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Hazelton Set Defensive Foundation for Bison Playoff Run

Hazelton Set Defensive Foundation for Bison Playoff Run

Former Bison defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton officially accepted the same position with Kansas State on Tuesday. Hazelton, who was at Wyoming for the past two years, will be reunited with Wildcats head coach Chris Klieman, who was the defensive backs coach at NDSU in 2011 when Hazelton was the Bison d-coordinator. He looks a little different now with the ZZ Top beard and several gray hairs, but when Hazelton was with NDSU for five years, he perhaps orchestrated one of the more notable defensive efforts in NDSU’s Division I FCS national title run.

Hazelton called the defensive shots in the 35-7 win over Georgia Southern that sent the Bison to the title game and their first championship over Sam Houston. It was a momentous game on several accounts, the Eagles at the time being one of the two benchmarks in FCS football along with Appalachian State. It was a meeting of the new guy on the block, NDSU, against the old guard of the FCS. Moreover, it was up to Hazelton to find a scheme to hold down Georgia Southern’s triple option.

Hazelton looked like a mess that week, like a guy who hardly slept. He probably didn’t.

NDSU held the Eagles to 186 yards rushing, an average of 3.9 yards per carry. The key was safety Colten Heagle, who the Bison coaches called the “alley runner.” It worked. Heagle finished with 15 tackles after returning from the lineup with a wrist injury. He played the GSU game with a large protective padding on his left hand, yet it was hardly noticeable. The defensive play of the game, however, was probably provided by linebacker Brandon Jemison. With the Eagles facing a fourth-and-goal at the Bison 3-yard line, and NDSU holding a 20-7 lead, Hazelton called for a linebacker blitz and Jemison dropped running back Dominique Swope for a five-yard loss.

“It was tough,” head coach Craig Bohl said of the defensive gameplan. “It stresses you a lot because it’s a different style of football. There was a lot of stress that went into it.”

One look at Hazelton during that week was all you needed to know.

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