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Bison's run of success continues with another FBS victory

MANHATTAN, Kan. – North Dakota State’s FBS magic continued Friday night at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Bison quarterback Brock Jensen scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with 28 seconds remaining to lift NDSU to a 24-21 dramatic comeback victory against Kansas State before a sellout crowd of 53,351 fans.

The two-time NCAA Division I FCS champion Bison (1-0) have won their last four games against FBS opponents. Kansas State was Big 12 champion and played in a BCS bowl game last season. The Wildcats were ranked one spot out of the FBS top 25 in the preseason. The game was played before the largest home-opening crowd in Kansas State history, and the second largest all-time.

“We had to score a touchdown, and it’s something we practice frequently,” Jensen said.

After the game, Bison head coach Craig Bohl talked about some advice he received from Appalachian State head coach Jerry Moore in the offseason. Moore led Appalachian State two three straight FCS national titles from 2005 to 2007. His team started the 2007 season with a dramatic win at No. 5-ranked Michigan.

“It’s hard to compare,” NDSU head coach Craig Bohl said. “We had Jerry Moore come talk to our football team and he was with us for three days. I have a note that he wrote that I kept and it said, ‘You have one shot at Kansas State. Make the most of it.’ ”

Friday’s game marked the first time Kansas State has lost a season opener with head coach Bill Snyder at the helm since 1989. Snyder had won his previous 20 season-opening games with the Wildcats.

The Bison haven’t lost a road game since Dec. 11, 2010 when they suffered a 38-31 overtime loss at Eastern Washington in the FCS playoffs.

NDSU capped its comeback against Kansas State with an 80-yard drive that took 18 plays and drained 8 minutes, 30 seconds off the clock. Jensen scored the winning touchdown on a QB keeper. He was initially stopped at the line of scrimmage before spinning and powering his way into the end zone. That gave the Bison a 24-21 lead with 28 seconds remaining and capped a string of 17 unanswered points.

Bison senior linebacker Grant Olson sealed the victory, intercepting Kansas State junior quarterback Jake Waters with 19 seconds remaining. After Jensen took a knee to run out the clock, the celebration was started. Bison players rushed to a section filled with NDSU fans moments after the game ended.

The Bison looked like they were about to melt away in the heat (the temperature was 98 degrees at kickoff) early in the second half.

Kansas State took a two-touchdown lead after backup QB Daniel Sams scored a 17-yard rushing touchdown. That gave the Wildcats a 21-7 lead with 9 minutes, 58 seconds to play in the third quarter.

“They played extremely hard and would not give in,” Snyder said of the Bison. “They came from two (touchdowns) down to win it in the second half.”

The Bison would score on their next three drives. Jensen started the comeback with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Vaadeland. That cut the Kansas State lead to 21-14 with 3:43 to play in the third. Vaadeland had dropped a pass in the end zone in the first half.

The Bison added an Adam Keller 41-yard field goal on their next possession. That made the score 21-17 with 12 seconds to play in the third quarter. That set the stage for the dramatic game-winning drive.

“I’d look to see a bunch of mad guys,” Snyder said of the Kansas State locker room after the game. “In all honesty, I didn’t see any.”

The Bison took a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter, taking advantage of a Christian Dudzik 49-yard punt return. Dudzik’s big play gave NDSU the ball at the Kansas State 23. Five plays later, Jensen took advantage of the field position and threw a 5-yard touchdown to wide receiver Ryan Smith with 56 seconds to play in the opening quarter.

Kansas State countered with its lone scoring drive of the first half early in the second quarter. The Wildcats covered 78 yards in four plays, all completed passes with quarterback Jake Waters finding wide receiver Tramaine Thompson free behind the Bison secondary to cap the drive. The TD pass covered 45 yards and tied the score at 7-7 with 10 minutes, 13 seconds to play in the second quarter. The scored stayed that way until halftime.

Eric Peterson | Forum News Service

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