GRAND FORKS, N.D. – The 114th meeting between No. 10 North Dakota (2-2, 0-1 MVFC) and No. 5 North Dakota State (4-0, 1-0 MVFC) was a stingy defensive affair with both teams failing to reach 300 yards of offense and scoring only one touchdown each in the second-best attended UND football game in Alerus Center history (12,846). However, the Bison’s three field goals to the Fighting Hawks one proved to be the difference as UND fell to its rival, 16-10.
“I was really proud of our guys today. We knew it was going to be a physical game and I think our guys really brought it, but we came up short,” said Head Coach Bubba Schweigert. “It’s really valuable that our program played with a lot of class and played hard and played the way the game is supposed to be played and I’m really proud of our guys for that. We played against a tough opponent and it was a good build up to the game and we handled it well.”
With a sea of Kelly Green and White behind them, the North Dakota defense took advantage of the atmosphere, applying constant pressure on NDSU quarterback Quincy Patterson and the backfield, stopping the Bison 11 times behind the line of scrimmage. Middle linebacker Devon Krzanowski racked up 10 tackles alongside middle mate Noah Larson, but Krzanowski amassed three tackles for loss with a sack to his credit.
North Dakota State was able to gain just enough yards offensively to get itself in field goal range on its second as Jake Reinholz put the Bison on the scoreboard with 4:55 left in the first quarter with a 45-yard field goal. UND responded on the very next drive as Bo Belquist hauled in a 30-yard touchdown in the front corner of the end zone, putting the Hawks in control, 7-3.
The Bison scored again on the very next drive as Reinholz knocked down a 34-yarder to make it a 7-6 game, where it stayed through halftime. The Hawks outgained NDSU 159-153 in offensive yards in the half, but the Bison controlled the clock thanks to their 102 rushing yards. The UND defense allowed 51 passing yards in the first half and only allowed six more the rest of the night as NDSU totaled 57 on the afternoon.
The Fighting Hawks found yardage in short bursts and converted five third downs to North Dakota State’s three, two turnover on downs – including one on UND’s 20-yard line – made the difference for NDSU. Reinholz converted his third field goal to put the Bison ahead with 6:54 remaining in the fourth.
The game’s only turnover on the edge of the Fighting Hawks red zone did not allow North Dakota to reclaim its lead late in the third period, shifting a little more momentum to the Bison. Fullback Hunter Luepke set up NDSU’s final touchdown, powering his way to the red zone, where Patterson finished it off for the Bison with his three-yard rushing score.
Adam Stage closed out the scoring with a 46-yard field goal with 16 seconds left in regulation.
In the postgame press conference, Coach Schweigert added, “we need to find a way to make some more plays. I made a decision to put our defense into a tough spot and our team responded well. It’s tough when you make those calls and when they don’t work, you got to live with it. It was a tough decision to put our defense in that spot, but we got to live with it. I don’t know if I’ll sleep tonight but we gotta live with it.”
Quarterback Tommy Schuster was 18-for-32 passing with 176 yards and one touchdown in the contest,
favoring Luke Skokna, Jack Wright, and Belquist, who combined for 14 catches led by Skokna’s six for 50 yards.
The Fighting Hawks will return to action on Oct. 1 in Vermillion, S.D., when it takes on South Dakota. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m.
NOTES: Otis Weah reached 1,000 career yards in the contest, finishing with 85 yards on 19 carries … Punter Cade Peterson placed two of his five punts inside the 20, including one at the one-yard line in the fourth quarter … The NDSU win was its first-ever in the Alerus Center and its first in Grand Forks since 1997 … Grand Forks native Ben Christian earned his first career start at left guard … The UND offensive line, who shifted Donny Ventrelli to right tackle, and Easton Kilty to right guard with Colin Lavell out, only allowed three negative plays and just its second sack of the season … Possession was nearly even in the final three quarters but favored the Bison, 23:02-21:58 … The loss to No. 5 North Dakota State was the Hawks first to a top-5 foe since Oct. 27, 2018 to No. 4 Weber State, 35-30 … North Dakota is now 8-2 against ranked foes at home and 1-2 versus those in the top-5.