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Bison notebook: Malone starts slow, finishes with a bang

Rod Malone's first four carries on Saturday went for 1, 3, 2 and 0 yards, respectively. That was not a sign of things to come. The North Dakota State senior running back put a cap on an outstanding season, gaining 105 yards and scoring three touc...

Rod Malone's first four carries on Saturday went for 1, 3, 2 and 0 yards, respectively. That was not a sign of things to come.

The North Dakota State senior running back put a cap on an outstanding season, gaining 105 yards and scoring three touchdowns in a 58-24 victory over Concordia-St. Paul.

A slow start was typical of Malone's year. His best quarters were the third and fourth when he was able to combine his 211 pounds with impressive power.

Malone spent the better half of the season sharing carries with freshman Kyle Steffes. But when Steffes suffered a season-ending leg injury at the tail end of the University of North Dakota game, the ball belonged to Malone.

He finished with games of 225, 135, 210 and 105 yards -- an average of 169 yards a game.

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His season total -- 1,252 yards -- is the fourth best single-season output in school history.

Lamar Gordon had 1,495 in 1999, Jake Morris had 1,710 in 1997 and Gordon had 1,727 in 2000.

"The coaches did a good job of preparing everybody," Malone said. "Today, the offense dominated like we planned on."

McFrustrated

Concordia-St. Paul quarterback James McNear came in ninth in NCAA Division II total offense with an average of 305 yards a game. By the second quarter, he was scrambling for his safety.

"They're a great team," McNear said. "That's why they're going I-AA. A great team."

McNear left the game early in the third quarter after scrambling for nine yards. He lay on the turf before walking off.

Bears head coach Shannon Currier said McNear could have returned. But he wanted to give backup Nate Harrington a chance.

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"I got banged up but it was nothing that I hadn't experienced before," McNear said.

Said Bison safety Mike Sheppard: "We knew we had to come out aggressive against them. Their quarterback can move."

Cold shower

Bison head coach Craig Bohl got a gift from his players in the final minute. He was doused with ice water.

It was a career first for the veteran assistant coach. He's in his first year as a head coach.

"It hurt," Bohl said. "I about had a heart attack."

Under Bohl, the Bison accomplished a six-game turnaround. They were 2-8 last year and went 8-3 this season.

"We wanted to close out the regular season on a high note and I felt we did that," Bohl said.

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Etc. etc. etc.

Matt Gorman's 93-yard interception return for a touchdown was six yards short of tying a long-standing school record. Peter Gergen returned one 99 yards against DePaul in 1927. ... With Winona a certain bet to make the playoffs, the Bears will play in the Mineral Water Bowl, a game that pits the NSIC vs. the MIAA. ... It was the most penalized game the Bison have been involved in this year. The Bears were flagged 14 times for 144 yards and NDSU 11 times for 94 yards. ... John Bonicelli didn't attempt his first punt until 2:21 left in the third quarter. It was 44-10 by then.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546

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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