Clash of Division I FCS titans
FARGO -- North Dakota State got an unexpected visitor the first time it played at Northern Iowa as a Division I Football Championship Subdivision program. Former Bison standout linebacker Joe Mays took advantage of an NFL bye week in 2008 and fle...
FARGO -- North Dakota State got an unexpected visitor the first time it played at Northern Iowa as a Division I Football Championship Subdivision program. Former Bison standout linebacker Joe Mays took advantage of an NFL bye week in 2008 and flew to Cedar Falls.
One of the first players he talked to when he walked into the locker room was linebacker Preston Evans. The freshman just had his redshirt pulled that week and was inserted into the starting lineup.
"He pulled me aside and he talked about how it's my time to get going now," Evans said earlier this week. "He said he didn't play as a freshman, so he talked about how I'm doing big things and that I'll be all right. Those were key words for me."
Mays finished his Bison career in 2007 and played the 2008 season with the Philadelphia Eagles. He's currently the starting middle linebacker for the Denver Broncos and is second on the team in tackles after six games.
Evans has been a mainstay in the middle heading into today's clash between No. 2 UNI and No. 3 NDSU at the Fargodome. But he'll never forget that first start at the UNI-Dome.
"It was pretty crazy out there," he said. "Looking up in their stands, they had the keys jingling and those guys were jumping around in front of us. It was a big moment and pretty dear to me."
Van Voorhis has family connection to last win
NDSU is 0-3 in the Division I series with the Panthers, meaning the last victory over the Panthers was in 1982.
That was a 12-7 win at Dacotah Field, and at least one Bison player doesn't have to look far for a connection. Sophomore safety A.J. Van Voorhis' father, Tom Van Vooorhis, played safety against the Panthers.
UNI had made the move to Division I-AA a few years earlier. It was the second time in two years the Bison played a team from a higher division.
"I remember the coaches talking about how big of a recruiting deal it was," Tom said.
The Bison played at I-AA Northern Arizona the prior season.
The '82 Panthers were a big, physical team that was insistent on running the ball, Van Voorhis said.
"They had a 240-pound fullback and I broke my hand," he said. "I don't even know if they threw any passes. That was the point they were trying to make; that they were bigger. It was no aerial show."
Panthers tackle excels just days after surgery
UNI got somewhat of a super-human performance from defensive tackle Ben Boothby last week. He had surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus on Monday - and was not only in the starting lineup against Southern Illinois, but excelled with eight tackles in a 17-10 Panthers win.
"To Ben's credit, he trains real hard," said UNI head coach Mark Farley. "His physical makeup helps him come back quicker. He trains in a way that he could have that type of injury and come back the next week."
Boothby was unavailable for comment because of a team policy prohibiting reporters from outside the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area from talking to players during the week.
Etc. etc. etc.
r Former Bison center Mike Favor will be honored at halftime for his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame last summer.
r It will be the sixth time in Missouri Valley Football Conference history that two teams ranked in the top five will play each other.
r NDSU leads FCS in scoring defense at 11.6 points a game and UNI is second at 13.3.
Kolpack is a sports writer for The Forum