College Sports Journal
FARGO, ND — It's a rarity in football to get a second shot at another team.
It's even rarer to get a second shot at your rival.
It's even rarer of all to get a second shot at your rival in the same venue where you lost to them before.
To top it all off, it was the unexpected 100th all-time meeting beween the two programs.
That's the opportunity that presented itself to South Dakota State when they took on the defending FCS champion North Dakota State Bison at the FargoDome in the playoffs this Saturday.
After a missed 43 yard field goal by North Dakota State, the Jackrabbits would quiet the dome temporarily with a Sumner-to-Hubert 49 yard reception, leading to a 26 yard South Dakota State field goal and a 3-0 lead.
It wouldn't stay quiet for long, however, as it would be the last points South Dakota State would have the rest of the game.
The Bison made the Jackrabbits pay for the slightest mistake in a second quarter where they'd score 21 unanswered points which allowed them to coast to a surprisingly easy 28-3 victory.
The first touchdown came after South Dakota State's score, as Bison quarterback Brock Jensen hitwould find a wide-open tight end Garrett Bruhn on 12-yard touchdown pass on the yellow carpet of the FargoDome end zone. Bison running back John Crockett rushing featured prominently on that drive, who would finish the afternoon with 11 carries for 90 yards.
Driving in Bison territory and facing a 4th and 1 and the decible level rising, Bison defensive end Cole Jirik would find Austin Sumner and sack him for a 5 yard loss – and turn over the ball on downs.
Again, North Dakota State would make their historic rivals pay – this time on a trick play. From a "bunch formation", Jensen faked a run right, but running back Ryan Smith zipped right around the left end for a 32-yard touchdown run, capping a 6-play, 52 yard drive.
“Ryan stood there with the ball for a couple seconds," Jensen said after the game. "He took off and there was no one within 40 yards of him. All 11 guys for South Dakota State thought I had the ball.”
With the Bison in near-complete control in the din of the Dome, Sumner would try to find wideout Aaron Rollin on a deep pattern – but superstar cornerback Marcus Williams kept perfect stride with him and nabbed interception near midfield to the delight of the Bison fans.
Eight plays later, after a methodical drive, Jensen scored on a 2-yard run, and just like that it was 21-3.
“Our guys are vets in the playoffs. There’s just a different look in their eye,” Bison head coach Craig Bohl said in the postgame press conference. “Once we get to postseason play they’re kicking it into a different gear.”
The Bison defense did the job as well in the second half, shutting out the Jackrabbits while allowing an insurance touchdown, another 9 yard toss to Bruhn, who saw his first action since October 6th with a high ankle sprain.
The Bison defense held South Dakota State running back Zach Zenner to 46 net rushing yards and the enitre Jackrabbit offense to 219 total yards.
The 100th meeting between the two programs was memorable for one side, at least.
"We had opportunities, we just didn’t capitalize,” Jackrabbit quarterback Austin Sumner said. “You’ve got to give credit to their defense. They’re a solid group of guys and they’re well coached.”