Ten Years Gone: DJ's run over the Dukes

The rivalry with North Dakota State and James Madison began ten years ago this December.

North Dakota State running back D.J. McNorton
North Dakota State running back D.J. McNorton places the ball in the endzone after a 60 yard touchdown run against James Madison December 3, 2011. / Forum File Photo

The Football Championship Subdivision playoffs may seem like old hat nowadays to North Dakota State fans, but ten years ago it was a new idea.

The Bison clinched their first Missouri Valley Football Conference title in November of 2011 and received the number two overall seed. NDSU was paired up with the winner of Eastern Kentucky and James Madison.

The Dukes even then were known for their football prowess, having played in the national semis just three years earlier against Montana. JMU made easy work of EKU and earned a trip to Fargo.


NDSU's offense had moments throughout that season where they couldn't be stopped and others where it was a struggle to score. This game was scoreless into the second quarter when Sam Ojuri was able to find the endzone to give the Bison a 7-0 lead.

The Dukes answered right before the half ended on a Justin Thorpe 20 yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Smith that tied the game up at 7. But JMU had a terrible kickoff that gave the Bison at midfield. Brock Jensen completed a 13 yard pass to Warren Holloway to the Dukes 13. Ryan Jastram came in and booted a 53 yard field goal and the Bison took a 10-7 lead into the locker room.

NDSU seized on the momentum in the second half as Ojuri scored again to extend the Bison lead to 16-7. After another long Jastram field goal to make it 19-7 early in the 4th quarter, JMU pounced.

The Dukes pulled out a trick play as Thorpe went out at wide receiver and caught a 35 yard touchdown pass from Kerby Long and just like that the game was 19-14 NDSU.


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Senior DJ McNorton was ready to take over after that. On the next play, McNorton got loose to the outside and scampered 60 yards down the sidelines for a touchdown to give NDSU a 26-14 lead.

McNorton finished with season high 154 yards on the ground to secure NDSU's win and advance them into the quarterfinals.

McNorton joined Dom Izzo on his Ten Years Gone segment to look back at this game and the tone it set for the rest of the 2011 playoffs.

Dom Izzo is the Sports Director at WDAY-TV. He began working for WDAY in 2006 as the weekend sports anchor and was promoted to Sports Director in 2010.
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