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Bison players say they've moved on from early-week distraction

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FARGO—The week started with a rarity in the Chris Klieman era of the North Dakota State football program: The head coach announced three players were dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules.

What those violations are remain unknown, but the Bison players this week say they've already moved on and all eyes are on the Division I FCS playoffs. No. 2-seeded NDSU hosts the University of San Diego in a second-round game Saturday at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.

For instance, Tre Dempsey, one of the Bison captains, said he told other players to maintain their sense of responsibility.

"And if you make choices that aren't the best choices, there are consequences to them," Dempsey said. "So I always say, be a Bison and think like a Bison and try to represent this program as best you can."

The three players—freshman receiver Sean Engel, freshman quarterback Henry Van Dellen and senior safety Darren Kelley—were all backups and probably weren't going to factor in the outcome. Junior receiver Dallas Freeman, eighth on the team in receptions with five, was suspended for the San Diego game.

Engel's father, Joel Engel, sent Forum Communications the following message Wednesday morning: "Sean made a poor decision and we support the staff's decision. Sean is leaving on good terms and has the school's support in finding a new opportunity. We both felt a change would be in the best interest of both."

It was the first time in more than five years that NDSU dismissed scholarship players. Klieman on Monday had no further comment. Neither Fargo, Moorhead or NDSU campus police departments have any record of arrests on the players.

"We're going to move on," said Bison quarterback Easton Stick. "We're worried about the guys in our locker room and that's all we can worry about. We have a great group in there and that's what we'll focus on."

Said backup quarterback Cole Davis: "It's been an unfortunate deal that happened, but we're ready to go with the guys we have in the locker room and looking forward to playing on Saturday."

Senior offensive guard Austin Kuhnert said it's not the first time the team has faced an obstacle and won't be the last.

"It is what it is, we've faced adversity before and whenever Murphy knocks on the door, you punch him in the mouth," said Kuhnert, referring to the old adage of anything that can go wrong will go wrong. "That's what we go by so it's another thing we've faced as a team. We've gotten past it and we're moving forward."