Fargo

The job of kicker is getting so unpredictable at North Dakota State that one of these games, Jake Reinholz may invent a new way to score in the game of football. Fake field goals. Two-point conversion runs.

Who knows what’s next. It happened with Reinholz in three of his last four games highlighted by the 2019 FCS national championship game against James Madison. The Bison lined up for an apparent field goal in the second quarter when holder James Hendricks took the snap, stood up, ran to his left and scored from 20 yards away.

It was a big play in NDSU’s 28-20 victory.

“He’s just an all-around Swiss Army knife, it’s what I keep hearing about him,” Reinholz said of Hendricks, who has since graduated. “That’s exactly what he was. He could hold, he could run, he could pitch the ball, throw the ball; anything we need.”

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Reinholz, a junior, is turning into a kicker’s version of a Swiss knife. He scored seven points last week in NDSU’s spring-opening 25-7 win over Youngstown State at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.

He was named the Missouri Valley’s Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance, which included a two-point conversion run after NDSU’s first touchdown. His 28-yard field goal gave the Bison an 11-0 halftime advantage, a two-possession lead they would never relinquish.

He added two extra-point kicks and averaged 62.8 yards on five kickoffs with two touchbacks.

Reinholz has bided his time. He redshirted in 2017 and was the backup to senior Cam Pederson in 2018. He won the job in fall camp of 2019 and got that season off to a banging start with a two-point conversion run against Butler University (Ind.) after NDSU’s first touchdown.

That play was similar to the Youngstown play in that NDSU turned a funky extra-point formation into Reinholz’s two-point run. But he was injured on the ensuing kickoff at Target Field in Minneapolis and did not return until the title game in Frisco, Texas.

Reinholz suffered a rupture of the quad tendon, an injury most likely caused by overuse. He was hoping to return to the lineup after eight weeks but it took until the JMU game before he was fully cleared.

“Luckily, I was at least able to make a recovery and make it back for the championship game,” he said.

So, in order of appearance, Reinholz had a two-point run against Butler in 2019, a fake field goal that went for a touchdown against JMU in January of 2020 and a two-point run vs. the Penguins last weekend. The only game he was a part of it that didn’t have a fake was last fall’s lone game against Central Arkansas.

Reinholz said the fakes were the brainchild of former offensive line coach AJ Blazek, who is now at Vanderbilt. The Youngstown and Butler two-point plays were essentially the same. On the extra point kick, half the team spread to the left and the other half to the right. If the holder, James Kaczor, didn’t get a defensive formation he liked, the Bison would have gone for the kick.

“Coach Blazek was big on the gate formation after touchdowns,” Reinholz said.

It helps to have a former offensive player as the holder. Hendricks started his NDSU career behind center. Kaczor was a running back in high school at St. Cloud Tech (Minn.).

Both Hendricks and Kaczor pitched the ball to Reinholz. A kicker scoring in ways other than a kick is a treat.

“I’d say so,” Reinholz said. “There are not too many opportunities for us to do stuff like that.”

Not bad for a kid from a family known more for soccer. Reinholz was a lethal scorer in that sport in high school at Fargo Shanley, scoring an uncanny 39 goals his senior year. He had 78 goals and 27 assists as a four-year starter.

His sister, Anna Reinholz, was a four-year soccer letterwinner at NDSU and was part of two Summit League regular season title teams in 2014 and 2017. His brother, Evan, played soccer at Shanley.

“That was my sport, I loved that sport,” Jake said.

But one day as a sophomore at Shanley, he decided to tag along with Matthew Wolbaum from soccer to football practice. Wolbaum did both and was the Deacons’ kicker.

“I ended up liking it, was decent at it at the time and stuck with it,” Reinholz said.

He’s now part of a veteran Bison kicking group that includes senior long snapper Ross Kennelly and senior punter Garret Wegner.

“I love it, I don’t have to worry much about it,” said NDSU head coach Matt Entz. “The only thing I have to worry about is they get a little goofy at times but I think that’s the life of a specialist.”

And for Reinholz, a specialist in scoring in other ways than kicking a ball. A football.