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Stevenson part of '69 NDSU title team recently honored

National championship team inducted into Bison Athletic Hall of Champions

October 8, 2009
Matt Mullally

Time causes memories to fade, but the fall of 1969 remains vivid in the mind of Rugby's Wayne Stevenson.

Stevenson was a sophomore member of the North Dakota State University football squad that year which posted a 10-0 record in 1969 and earned the program a national championship.

The team was was inducted into the Bison Athletic Hall of Champions earlier this month Stevenson and several of this teammates attended the induction ceremony at the college. It was an opportunity to reminisce about that season and their time together at the university. The team was also recognized at halftime of the Bison's Oct. 3 home game.

Although the fullback never played a down that season, as two upperclassmen were ahead of him on the depth chart, Stevenson was a member of the Bison practice squad and dressed for every home game.

He did make the travel squad to the Camellia Bowl played in Sacramento, California where NDSU thumped Montana 30-3 in a meeting of the nation's top two small college programs. That season NDSU also captured its sixth straight North Central Conference title.

"What's interesting is the players back then weren't as big as they are now,' Stevenson said. "I think the biggest lineman we had was 240 pounds."

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the program under the direction of coach Ron Erhardt, enjoyed quite a run. From 1968 to 1971, NDSU went an impressive 35 games without a defeat.

The following year, Stevenson, A 1968 Rugby graduate who earned a full scholarship, became a starter in the Bison backfield. He rushed for a career-high 174 yards and three touchdowns in a victory over Mankato, Minn. State. At the time that total tied a school record for most rushing yards for a game. Stevenson said the Bison implemented the triple option offense which was still relatively new to the college game.

"I had some pretty big holes to run through (that game),' Stevenson recalled.

That season NDSU posted a 9-0-1 record, returning to the Camillia Bowl where it again defeated Montana 31-16. However, Montana was already crowned national champion in the polls, Stevenson remembers. Associated Press sportscaster and sportswriters voted prior to the game, selecting Montana as the No. 1 team in the final polls.

In 1971, Stevenson started much of his senior season as well, highlighted by another strong game against Mankato, rushing for three touchdowns. One of his teammates was George Gilmore, a defensive end, also from Rugby.



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