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For 1 play against Youngstown, NDSU was 'Fullback U'

Bison formation that had four fullbacks in the game at one time created social media buzz

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North Dakota State's Hunter Luepke breaks away on a touchdown run against Youngstown State during their football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Fargo.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum
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FARGO — There are college football teams who don’t have fullbacks on the roster, but there was North Dakota State, with four of them. All in the game at the same time.

The formation that resulted in Hunter Luepke’s 13-yard touchdown run against Youngstown State got the attention of football folks on social media. If NDSU was Quarterback U when Trey Lance was leading the Bison to an FCS national football championship in 2019, then the Bison may be Fullback U this season with Luepke leading the way.

Luepke scored, but NDSU also had Hunter Brozio, Logan Hofstedt and Luke Waters in the game, with Brozio and Hofstedt being lined up more as tight ends on the left and right ends, respectively. Quarterback Cam Miller gave a quick underhanded toss to Luepke, who followed Waters and was barely touched on his way to the end zone.

The blocking scheme worked to perfection.

“We have four really good football players, guys who are pretty selfless in that room,” said NDSU head coach Matt Entz.

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He pointed to Waters, a senior transfer from Iowa Western Community College. Waters played four snaps against the Penguins with his block on Luepke’s play being a key component to making it work.

“The young man is owning his role and doing a great job,” Entz said. “He’s a backup on some special teams; that is a great example of what Bison pride is in my opinion. Comes to work every day. You could say that about Hunter Brozio, you could say that about Logan Hofstedt and you could say that about Hunter Luepke.”

The plan was a spinoff from a play NDSU used the prior week at the University of South Dakota. The look was similar to the split-back formation of Bison veer offense days of old.

“I’m sure a lot of traditionalists and people who remember football out at Dacotah Field probably brought back some fond memories for them,” Entz said.

There were days in NDSU’s Division I West Coast offense when the fullback never carried the ball all season. In Luepke’s case, he has been lined up more as a tailback on his running plays, but he’s still identified as a fullback, especially when it comes to evaluating his pro prospects.

What was once an experiment in the spring 2021 season because the Bison were thin at running back because of injuries has turned into a weapon.

“He’s just a good football player,” Entz said. “If I could change the position on our football roster, it would just say ‘football’ behind it. That’s what he plays.”

NDSU didn’t escape the Youngstown game pain-free. Defensive end Jake Kava suffered an undisclosed upper body injury. Entz didn’t know the details as of early Monday afternoon. Running back Kobe Johnson sprained his ankle, but he’s listed as day-to-day heading into Saturday afternoon’s Missouri Valley Football Conference game at Indiana State.

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With Kava’s status unknown, Entz said redshirt freshman Kole Menz from West Fargo Sheyenne may be in line for playing time. Junior Dylan Hendricks, who’s battled injuries so far in his entire Bison career, was available against Youngstown and may also see the field.

Hendricks suffered a severe hamstring injury in practice the week of the season opener against Drake University (Iowa).

“It was one of those freak deals,” Entz said. “But he’s working his way back and he’s hungry. He wants to play but at the same time we have to control that energy and the reps for him at practice for fear of not re-injuring that thing.”

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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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