LOGAN, Utah – The University of North Dakota got off to a hot start in its first FBS game since 2018, scoring 21 points in the first quarter against host Utah State (2-0). However, UND (1-1) could not establish its run game and build momentum as the Aggies outscored the Fighting Hawks 21-3 in the second half to win its home-opener, 42-24.
“Utah State will challenge you. You really got to be focused against a team like that and we made some mistakes,” said Head Coach Bubba Schweigert. “In the second half we just didn’t get any momentum. They had it most of the half, and we got a couple of stops and forced them to kick a field goal, but other than that we just didn’t have any momentum.”
Quarterback Tommy Schuster passed for a career-high 348 yards while completing 29-of-43 passing. Garett Maag led the Hawks with 81 yards receiving while Luke Skokna finished close behind with 77. The UND defense recorded eight tackles for loss on the night while recording one takeaway, an interception by C.J. Siegel that set up a North Dakota score. Ty Shannon led UND with eight tackles, including 1.5 for loss.
The lightning delay and power outage did not seem the Fighting Hawks, who went down the field 71 yards on seven plays and 2:45 as UND called a 13-yard reverse pass by Brock Boltmann to Bo Belquist for the score. Belquist extended the drive on third and 10 on a naked bootleg call, running to the corner flag, stumbling during the route but regaining his composure to put the Hawks in the red zone.
USU quickly responded with a touchdown of their own on the next drive. However, the undaunted Hawks once again reached the end zone as Schuster found Adam Zavalney for the second time this season to break the tie, 14-7. Zavalney jumped into traffic from the middle of the end zone to make the grab.
The Fighting Hawks doubled their lead on the next drive as it passed for 40 yards, and Weah broke away for a 16-yard dash on the first play of the drive. Quincy Vaughn recorded his second career touchdown pass on first and goal from the three yard line, rolling to his right and finding Tyler Burian for his first career score.
North Dakota’s three passing touchdowns in the first quarter were all recorded by different passers.
While the opening quarter was all North Dakota, Utah State responded in the second half with 13 unanswered points to make it a 21-20 ball game at halftime.
The second half opened with fireworks as Siegel intercepted USU quarterback Logan Bonner inside the 30-yard line to give North Dakota a short field to work with, setting up a 29-yard Adam Stage field goal to make it a four-point game, 24-20. On the next offensive play, Utah State took its first lead of the game on a 75-yard touchdown pass up the home sideline to put the Aggies in front with 9:52 left in the third quarter, 27-24.
Momentum continued to sway in Utah State’s favor on the next offensive possession as it went down the field in 10 plays to force a fourth and two play from the UND three. The Aggies attempted to draw UND offsides, but the disciplined defense held its ground, pressured Utah State on an errant pass attempt to the corner of the end zone, and assumed possession.
North Dakota could not take advantage of the change of possession, despite two catches by Zavalney for 36 yards, though it did push Utah State to its own 19 on the ensuing punt by Cade Peterson. The Hawks had another chance to hold the Aggies to a turnover on downs on fourth and two from the three again, but USU would reach the end zone to take a two-score lead. USU continued to build its lead in the final period, scoring one more time to finish the night with 42 points.
NOTES: Following the national anthem, a lightning delay was announced 9:55 before kickoff (7:51 p.m. Central time) … After an anticipated start of 9:17 p.m. Central time, all the lights at Maverik Stadium went out … The game kicked off at 9:29 p.m. CT … The University of North Dakota is now 4-for-4 in scoring after recording a takeaway converting for 20 points … Brock Boltmann recorded his second career touchdown pass on a 13-yard reverse pass to Bo Belquist, his fourth career touchdown and first of the season … The Fighting Hawks three touchdowns in the first quarter were completed by three different passers – Boltmann, Tommy Schuster, and Quincy Vaughn … Tyler Burian caught his first career touchdown on Vaughn’s pass attempt … Adam Zavalney finished with a career-high five catches and 65 yards … Finishing with 17 carries and 46 yards, tonight was the first time in Otis Weah’s career in which he did not score a touchdown when he records touch, breaking a streak of nine-straight games … The University of North Dakota is now 1-10 versus FBS foes since making the jump to FCS in 2008.