I have had Aug. 30, 2013 circled on my metaphorical calendar for a pretty long time. I suppose that’s like many North Dakota State fans when the road game at Kansas State first appeared on the schedule, but for me, it had nothing to do with any plans to go to Manhattan, Kan.
The surest sign of the end of summer – and vacation season for me – is the start of high school football season. While there are a handful of Tuesday and Thursday games on opening week, the first big night is that last Friday in August, when most of the teams in our area take the field for the first time.
That’s when our training of new sports clerks gets accelerated. That’s when between 9 and 10:30 p.m. the phones ring off the hook and you literally lose 90 minutes of time, like in those “X-Files” abduction episode (If you’re under the age of 30 or not a nerd, I don’t expect you to get that reference.).
And you’re telling me that to go along with the high school football opener, NDSU is opening its season on that Friday night? And against the reigning Big 12 champs and a BCS bowl team from a year ago? I’ve been thinking for months, “Aug. 30 could be the craziest night of work we’ve ever had.”
Fun to reflect on now. The moment when NDSU QB Brock Jensen plunged into the end zone for the winning score and I knew that, yes, we will again be going nuts with our section. Or when my colleague Andrew Gottenborg blurted out “Manhattan Magic” and I knew we had our headline. Or when part-timer Madalyn Laske – in the middle of a barrage of football box score calls – picked up the phone, then turned to me and said she had a call from Connecticut for me and page designer Michael Smith asked, “Is it ESPN?,” which I laughed off.
Turned out it was ESPN, and they wanted our sports cover, which at the time was completely blank. Seeing the completed cover on “SportsCenter” at 1:30 a.m. was a great capper to the night and one of the coolest moments of my career (I included a photo of it below if you didn’t catch it).
Looking back on the game, I think the ESPN moment sums up these upsets pretty well. I feel like NDSU knocking off Kansas State was a huge upset, but the term “Shocker” in the InForum.com sports headline almost feels sarcastic. After all, the Bison have won four straight games against FBS teams and have a 7-3 mark versus that level. Are we really shocked anymore?
That isn’t to take anything away from the win. And without a doubt, the Wildcats were the strongest of those 10 opponents. They’ve had some roster turnover just like any team has, but they’re still the defending Big 12 champs, and they still went to a BCS bowl game last season.
It’s a monumental win for NDSU. But from my standpoint, it’s not the win that is surprising. It’s always the national attention that comes with the win.
It’s seeing NDSU lead off “SportsCenter” and having the Bison be the top story on a number of national sports websites. That’s always the real shocker. Because even though I picked the Wildcats to win, I certainly wasn’t stunned that the Bison pulled it off. It’s hard to be stunned by any win they pull off anymore.
It was a wild night to be a part of. Thanks to Gottenborg, Smith, Laske, Glenn Pursley, Colton Pool and Tom Mix for pulling it off on our end. Don’t forget to check out Heidi Roepke‘s outstanding A1. And thanks to Carrie Snyder for the amazing photo, and to Kevin Schnepf, Jeff Kolpack and Eric Peterson for great reporting in a very small window of time to do it.
Hayden Goethe is the Assistant Sports Editor at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. You can follow him on Twitter @hgoethe