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Then it was Erhardt's turn to suffer. State won the toss and elected to kick off—into the wind. The call came close to wrecking State. Early in the game Conrad lofted a long punt with the wind that landed on the Bisons' one and bounced straight up. A State man fielded it and stepped into the end zone. Safety.
Down two points now and still in a hole, the Bisons went back to punt—into the wind. Up the middle came North Dakota's Roger Bone. Boink! Six plays later the Sioux had a field goal.
Nor was State through paying for its gaff. Still in the first period Colehour spotted his fullback, Pete Porinsh, 12 yards downfield and—zip—right on the button. Porinsh, who had managed to break the same leg three times two years ago, leading doctors to predict he would have trouble walking again, was running. He cut to the middle and went 59 yards for the touchdown.
Now the Bisons became untracked, parlaying a brutal frontal assault by Rota and his running mate, Mike Belmont, who comes from White Plains, N.Y., with roll-out passes by Hanson to the same two. State scored and the half was almost over, but the game was on.
North Dakota did not make the mistake of kicking into the wind to open the third quarter, but perhaps it should have. All the Sioux could get for their 40 knots was another field goal, and then the Bisons had their turn.
Rota and Belmont kept right on catching Hanson's passes, usually on third and long yardage plays, and the Bisons not only scored a touchdown, they got the two points as well. It was all even at 15-15 coming into those last four minutes. Then North Dakota bobbled a punt on its own 20 and died.
Right? Wrong. The field-goal try was wide. Conrad got off a remarkable 44-yard punt into the wind, and North Dakota was out of trouble.
Right? Wrong. State brought the ball right back to the Sioux 19, and the only thing that could stop the Bisons was—it happened. North Dakota's safety, Keith Boleen, intercepted Hanson's pass on the two and the Sioux were saved.
Right? Wrong. Three plays got nothing and Conrad stepped back to punt. Some punt. It sailed upfield 20 inglorious yards and out of bounds, stopping the clock. Disaster? Of course not. Boleen intercepted another Hanson pass in the end zone. The Sioux had done it.
Right? Wrong. The referee said Boleen was back of the end-zone line. No interception. Enter the Bisons' Dick Blazie, 6 feet 3, 205 pounds and a sophomore, to try a 29-yard field goal. It was the slowest, wobbliest, leakiest, most weather-beaten kick ever lofted in North Dakota. It was perfect, for at least half of the state.