Marcus Traxler Editor-in-Chief

 Like the heaviest rock, there was no moving the NDSU defense Saturday for the Jackrabbits.

With little offense to speak of – more than 300 yards less than their per game average on offense – and a defense that could only hang on for so long, the Bison pulled away with two fourth quarter touchdowns to win the Dakota Marker for the fourth straight year, 20-0, in front of a record crowd at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium of 16,498. 

The Jackrabbits rushing game was nonexistent, much like it was in the two games in Fargo in 2012. This time, All-American running back Zach Zenner, who was averaging 185 yards per contest entering the game, ran for just four yards on eight carries. As a team, including the Bison’s seven quarterback sacks, the Jackrabbits had -32 rushing yards. 

At the same time, SDSU’s defense stood strong enough to keep the Jacks in the game, holding the two-time defending FCS national champions to seven points through three quarters. But NDSU ran the ball 55 times for 262 yards for the game and wore through the SDSU defense with two scores in the final quarter. The shutout marked the first time since 2005 that the Jackrabbits had been held scoreless and it was first time SDSU had been shutout in Brookings since 1991. 

“I felt for three quarters it was a tough and hard-fought game, which we expected,” SDSU coach John Stiegelmeier said. “But we couldn’t get anything going offensively and then we quit tackling and playing defense in the fourth quarter.”

SDSU had 12 drives in the game and 10 of those finished with punts, including seven 3-and-outs. 

“I felt like we had our chances,” Sumner said. “We had great field position. Just couldn’t finish it.”

NDSU’s defense felt like it had a pretty good handle on what the Jackrabbits would do. 

“We play them every year, so we’re accustomed to how they play,” defensive lineman Danny Luecke said. “They know what we do, and we know what they do. It comes down to executing.” 

SDSU forced the only turnover of the game – an Andrew Brown interception in the third quarter – and could have had a few more after nearly missing a blocked punt before halftime and with a John Crockett fumble being recovered out of bounds by SDSU’s Winston Wright in the fourth quarter. 

NDSU quarterback Brock Jensen, who moved to 35-5 for his career as a starter for the Bison, scored the first and final touchdowns for the green and gold and each were 1-yard touchdown runs. The first put the Jackrabbits behind in the second quarter, 7-0 and the second finished SDSU’s hopes for good with 4:44 left in the game.

It’s the fourth straight Dakota Marker loss for the Jackrabbits and their third in the last two seasons, after getting knocked from the playoffs a season ago, 28-3.

“We can beat them,” Stiegelmeier said, when asked if the Jackrabbits felt like they missed their chance to beat NDSU. “I am not going to say that North Dakota State walks on water. They’re a good football program but so are we. Today, they were a better program than we were.”

The good news for the Jackrabbits is the season is not over. At 3-2, they fell just one spot in the media poll this week in FCS, down to No. 7 and with rocky Southern Illinois coming into Brookings this weekend, it’s a good chance for the Jackrabbits to get back to winning ways. Nevertheless, the 78-pound quartzite rock will rest in Fargo for another year. 

“The rock’s coming back to Fargo and it feels good,” Jensen said.