They’re number one for a reason, the Bison will hold on to the Dakota Marker for the fourth straight year.
No. 1 ranked North Dakota State walked into Coughlin-Alumni stadium last Saturday and took what belongs to them, the Dakota Marker. Making it the longest the Bison have had it in their possession over the course of the Marker’s history. No. 6 SDSU can’t help but tip their hat and praise NDSU on a hard-fought football game, toughing it out and slashing the Jacks in a 20-0 shutout.
As of late, the Jackrabbits have failed to put in a solid game on both sides of the field. This week the offense could hardly move the ball, while last week the Jackrabbits’ Zach Zenner moved the ball for 202 yards on the ground against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
“It was a hard fought game as we expected,” head coach John Stiegelmeier said. “I am not going to say North Dakota State walks on water, they’re a good football program, right now they are a better football program than we are because the won the football game … we got a lot of respect for coach Bohl, we got a ton of respect for our program also.”
The offense failed to establish a consistent flow throughout the contest, no rushing game, a struggling passing attack and no help from special teams.
“I felt like we had our chances, the defense got us turnovers,” quarterback Austin Sumner said. “We just couldn’t execute as well as we needed too. We felt like coming into it that we had things we would be able to do, execute it, just wasn’t working for us.”
The one thing the Jacks continued from last week was a few costly penalties. After an Andrew Brown interception on NDSU’s first possession of the second half, the Jacks were flagged for a holding penalty on the first play from scrimmage, Sumner scrambled for one yard on the second down, then got sacked for a six-yard loss on the third down, killing any momentum they may have had. It all started up front, the Bison defensive line disrupted the quarterback.
“I thought the defensive line did a great job,” Linebacker Grant Olson said. “To stop a back like him (Zenner) everybody really needs to be disciplined and be able to find their fits and know what they’re doing every single play, I think that just shows everyone was locked into the game plan.”
The Bison pressured Sumner and the offense all day assaulting them with seven sacks by games’ end. The tables of in-consistency keep turning for the Jacks at the conclusion of week five.
Zipping up Zenner
It’s no secret, the Jackrabbits will run the ball and do it often, however, Zenner is no match for the feisty Bison defense. Zenner couldn’t find a hole.
“I felt like they were filling hard and fast, coming downhill right away when they saw run,” Zenner said. “You don’t need to play perfect, but you need to play your best football.”
Through the first four games of 2013, Zenner has surpassed 100 yards every game and gotten over 200 yards in two of those contests. But, NDSU has held the all-star runningback to an eye-popping five yards on eight carries, his worst performance against the Bison in the four times playing them.
“Certainly was a game we thought would be a really hard-nosed physical game,” head coach Craig Bohl said. “I think the biggest difference in the ball game was we were able to neutralize their running game.”
Special teams breakdown
While the offense and defense have experienced peaks and valleys this season, special teams have remained consistently bad. The Jacks added a season high, 10 punts in which only three were downed inside the 20-yard-line. The Bison would have scored a touchdown on a punt return by NDSU’s Christian Dudzik if it weren’t for a block in the back penalty. The block occurred as Dudzik had appeared to have been far enough away to avoid the speeding defender, a costly penalty on the Bison and a lucky break for SDSU. One small positive, the special teams unit blocked an extra-point after the Bison scored their second touchdown with 10 minutes and a half left in the fourth quarter. However, football is an imperfect game and the season isn’t lost yet in the eyes of Stiegelmeier.
“I’ve got a Mello-Yello and the season’s not lost,” Stieglemeier said as he lifted up his cold Mello-Yello with a chuckle. “You keep it all in perspective, until you watch film … our guys are resilient, they’ll bounce back, make sure everyone’s heads are up.”