FARGO-The decision was made Thursday that North Dakota State wide receiver Darrius Shepherd and his injured hamstring was going to be good for just one half in Saturday's FCS quarterfinal game with South Dakota State. It wasn't the first time Shepherd was in that situation.
An injured shoulder rendered him useful for just one half last year when NDSU hosted Northern Iowa. So Klieman picked the second half. He made the same decision against the Jackrabbits, opting to play his leading pass catcher in the final two quarters.
Shepherd responded with four receptions including a 67-yard touchdown and the Bison defeated SDSU 36-10 before 18,286 fans at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.
"We simply didn't think he could last a whole game," Klieman said. "Lo and behold, the selection was made for the second half, so we warmed him up."
Shepherd was the first Bison player out of the halftime locker room, stretching in the north end zone for a few minutes. His touchdown came midway in the fourth quarter that put the game out of reach at 36-10.
"He's a playmaker," said quarterback Easton Stick. "We got the ball in his hands a couple of times and he made the plays. He's beat up but he thought he could give it a shot."
NDSU linebacker Pierre Gee-Tucker, meanwhile, warmed up prior to the game but came out in street clothes just prior to the national anthem. Gee-Tucker suffered a sprained MCL in his knee in the last regular season game.
Klieman said cornerback Jaylaan Wimbush suffered an unspecified injury and didn't know any further details.
Crowd played a factor for Bison
It was a noisy facility over the course of the afternoon, and the Bison coaches and players said it made a difference. It was the 46th straight game NDSU has drawn at least 18,000 fans.
"Hats off to the crowd, it was a huge factor," Klieman said. "They had a lot of miscommunication trying to communicate with the wide receivers and they couldn't. Getting the home field advantage was critical in this game."
Running back King Frazier appeared to play off the noise in his 101 rushing yards.
"It's the passion and the energy in the game," Frazier said. "It hits you in big plays like that. It was a fun atmosphere and fun to be part of."
Goedert said he was trying to punch ball
NDSU safety Tre Dempsey picked off a Taryn Christion pass in the latter stages of the third quarter, a play where Dempsey returned it 10 yards to the SDSU 30-yard line. It was what happened immediately after the play that was the subject of a post-game press conference question for SDSU tight end Dallas Goedert.
He appeared to throw a punch at Dempsey while the safety was the ground, a play that was caught on camera. Goedert, however, said he was trying to rip the ball from Dempsey and called it a "football play."
"I don't think it was dirty at all, I punched the ball," Goedert said.