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Bison happy to have linebacker Cox for all four quarters in rematch with Jackrabbits

FARGO -- The Dakota Marker has been hanging out in Brookings, S.D., for the last two years, the result of South Dakota State beating North Dakota State in a regular season football game. For Bison starters Dillon Radunz, Dan Marlette and Greg Men...

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North Dakota State linebacker Jabril Cox gives his game gloves to young fans after the 38-10 win over Deleware on Saturday at the Fargodome. David Samson / The Forum

FARGO - The Dakota Marker has been hanging out in Brookings, S.D., for the last two years, the result of South Dakota State beating North Dakota State in a regular season football game. For Bison starters Dillon Radunz, Dan Marlette and Greg Menard, they had no say in the outcome last year.

They were injured and missed the game. For linebacker Jabril Cox, he had a limited voice.

Cox was suspended for the first half after a targeting penalty against Northern Iowa the previous week. By NCAA rules, a player who commits the infraction in the second half of the previous game must sit out the first half of the ensuing game.

Just getting to the third quarter of the Bison-Jacks game was an adventure. Cox warmed up with his teammates like any other game, but couldn't be on the sideline in the first half. At first, he went to the locker room to try and watch the live video, but there was no Wi-Fi hookup.

The NDSU team bus didn't have W-Fii, either. So he and Marlette got in a car, drove to spot near campus where they could pick up high-speed internet and watched it there. Cox was in his game day uniform of a white jersey and green pants.

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"Sitting in a car with Jabril in the first half," Marlette said. "We were trying to dissect what was going on and it was a very average game for our defense. It was tough to watch."

The Jackrabbits won 33-21 at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium. Cox played in the final two quarters but had just two tackles.

"When we didn't have him for that first half, he was just kind of out of the game and there was no flow for him," said NDSU head coach Chris Klieman. "Having him obviously gives our defense a lift. I think Jabril is one of the elite players in college football."

Cox said it was certainly different beginning a game in the third quarter. He said sitting out the first half "humbled" him a bit.

"I wanted to go out and play a full game and do it for my team," he said. "It was hard getting things going. I know I'm more of a finisher instead of a starter so just doing that, it was tough."

He's been an impressive starter this year. Last week, he picked off Delaware's first pass of the game and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown. Two weeks ago, he returned an interception 43 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter against North Alabama.

It was the first time a Bison player had back-to-back pick-sixes since 1967. The pass coverage scheme is something Cox said he's been working on since last season.

"The growth has come from disguising my coverages," he said. "I know with the past two picks it was about disguise and baiting the quarterback."

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UP NEXT

Who: No. 3 South Dakota State at No. 1 NDSU

When: 2:30 p.m., Saturday

Where: Gate City Bank Field, Fargodome

TV: KVLY (NBC Network), Midco Sports

Radio: 107.9-FM, 1660-AM, 92.7-FM

North Dakota State's Jabril Cox returns a fumble as he stiff arms James Madison's Ishmael Hyman during the NCAA FCS championship game at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018. David Samson / The Forum
North Dakota State's Jabril Cox returns a fumble as he stiff arms James Madison's Ishmael Hyman during the NCAA FCS championship game at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018. David Samson / Forum News Service

Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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