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Jacks' drive a thing of beauty

Brookings, S.D. North Dakota State coach Craig Bohl wouldn't bite. Surely, he was asked. He had to have some appreciation for South Dakota State's game-winning drive Saturday night. "No, I'm disappointed. Maybe from a fan's perspective you can lo...

Brookings, S.D.

North Dakota State coach Craig Bohl wouldn't bite.

Surely, he was asked. He had to have some appreciation for South Dakota State's game-winning drive Saturday night.

"No, I'm disappointed. Maybe from a fan's perspective you can look at that and appreciate it, but we had a chance to make some plays and didn't make them," Bohl said.

That much is true.

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At several points during the Jackrabbits' 14-play, 80-yard drive, Bison defenders had shots at sacking SDSU quarterback Brad Nelson.

Twice NDSU could have stopped SDSU on do-or-lose fourth down plays. No fewer than four NDSU players could have tackled Chris Molitor inside the 10-yard line to keep the Jacks' receiver from scoring the winning touchdown.

Do any one of those things, it's likely the Bison walk out of Coughlin-Alumni Stadium with a victory.

Instead the Bison did none of them. And they bussed up Interstate 29 in the October dark as 24-21 losers in the inaugural Dakota Marker game.

Cooked-up rivalry or no cooked-up rivalry, this turned out to be one helluva football game.

"This is about the kids," SDSU coach John Stiegelmeier said. "And tonight they made a ton of memories."

Which is funny. Because until SDSU took possession at its own 20 trailing 21-17 with 2:34 remaining, the game was ready to go into the books as nothing particularly special. There had been no defining moment, no standout player, no singular stretch, and no conspicuous statistic.

It was a brawl. Not pretty, not especially memorable, but one team was going to win.

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Then came the drive that will be remembered in Brookings for some time.

Twice the Jackrabbits converted on fourth down, the first when Nelson hit Brian Janecek on a seven-yard pass, and the second when Nelson found Solomon Johnson for seven more yards. That moved the ball to the SDSU 43.

A couple of more dinks and dunks, with Jacks' receivers wisely running out of bounds, got SDSU to the Bison 37.

On third and 4 from there, NDSU gambled and sent a blitz. That left the Bison defensive backs in one-on-one coverage and Nelson lofted a long spiral to the end zone intended for Josh Davis. The ball fell harmlessly incomplete in the end zone, but Bison cornerback Scott Walter was flagged for pass interference.

The 15-yard penalty advanced the ball to the 22 with 53 seconds left.

After an incompletion, the rarely used Molitor became the surprising hero.

Nelson escaped pressure and side-armed a pass to Molitor, who was crossing the field in a sprint. Molitor caught the ball at the 12 and had four Bison defenders -- Brian Erenberg, Matt Gorman, Jayd Kittelson and Kole Zimmerman -- bearing down in a hurry.

Some how, some way, Molitor escaped. And to the surprise of 12,323 in attendance, he ran into the end zone.

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"I just saw the end zone, I didn't see any of the players around me. I only saw what was in front of me," Molitor said. "Our coach says make one move and get five yards. I got the five yards and just kept on chugging."

For NDSU, this was another stinging defeat on the road. The Bison have four losses on the road over the last two seasons.

Two came in overtime last year. The two this season have been by a total of five points. All, needless to say, have come down to the wire.

For SDSU, this was a game never to be forgotten.

"This is one of the biggest moments of my life," said Nelson, the senior quarterback. "We were behind but didn't give up. We kept plugging away, taking what they were giving us and moving closer.

"It is great for this program to beat NDSU in the first game of the border battle. Å It's a great start to the rivalry."

It all came down to an impressive drive that covered nearly the entire field in less than two minutes. Understandably, those connected to NDSU didn't see the beauty in it.

But - and you'll to trust us on this coach Bohl -- it was something to be appreciated

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