GRAND FORKS, N.D. – The University of North Dakota extended its streak to 12-straight home wins and 35 consecutive home opening wins as the Fighting Hawks (2-1) shutout Drake (1-2) at the Alerus Center in the Hawks 38-0 victory. It was the first UND shutout since the 2017 home-opener in 2017 against Missouri State.
While the Hawks registered 527 yards of offense, they turned the ball over five times, including four fumbles while the defense intercepted three passes and Sammy Fort recovered a muffed punt return to lead to UND’s final score.
“I thought our defense played well and really led us tonight, but we got to do better on offense. We were moving the ball but we weren’t giving ourselves a chance,” said Head Coach Bubba Schweigert. “When you turn the ball over, it makes it really hard and it leaves a tough taste in your mouth. We’ll take the win, and I thought our guys played hard; we just got to have better discipline and take care of the ball.”
Luke Skokna and Isaiah Smith combined for 248 yards and two touchdowns with Smith leading the Hawks with 125 yards and a score on 12 carries. It was both backs first 100-yard rushing games. Defensively Jordan Canady and Jayson Coley each posted big returns from interceptions as the defense pressured the Bulldogs and stopped them behind the line of scrimmage seven times.
In the first two offensive series of the game, Skokna recorded a 51-yard touchdown run and followed up with a 48- yard rush on the next to quickly help the Hawks take an early 14-0 lead in the quarter. UND added 10 more points in the ensuing period as Adam Stage converted his fourth field goal of the season from 21-yards out and Smith recorded his first career touchdown.
North Dakota amassed 364 yards on 45 plays for an 8.1 yard per play average as the running back closed the first quarter with 101 yards on three carries and tallied 167 all-purpose yards in the opening half to surpass the career-high he set last week at Utah State. Defensively North Dakota held the Bulldogs to two first downs and 99 yards of offense, while forcing them to go 0-for-7 on third down conversions.
By the end of the third quarter, Skokna and Smith had both reached 100-yards rushing, becoming the first tandem since James Johannesson and Brady Olivera Oct. 20, 2018 to reach the plateau.
With numerous players getting reps in the final quarter, the Fighting Hawks defense was able to hold the Drake offense scoreless and limit them to a mere 163-yards of total offense. The Bulldogs were 2-of-17 on third down conversions when the final cannon sounded following Matt Koshiol’s shutout sealing interception in the end zone.
Following a bye week next Saturday, the University of North Dakota will open Missouri Valley Football Conference play when it hosts in-state rival North Dakota State on Saturday, Oct. 2.
NOTES: The Fighting Hawks debuted new green uniforms against Drake … The defensive shutout was UND’s first since Sept. 9, 2017 versus Missouri State (34-0) … This was the Fighting Hawks have intercepted three passes in two of its first three games this season … North Dakota has not lost a home-opener since 1986, a streak of 35-straight wins … UND has won its last 12 games at the Alerus Center … Luke Skokna rushed for 101 yards on three carries in the first quarter to record his first 100-yard game as a Fighting Hawk … He finished with 197 all-purpose yards, setting a new career-high one week after his previous best of 145 … Skokna’s 51-yard touchdown run was UND’s longest play from the line scrimmage this season … Weah did not suit versus Drake … Garett Maag registered his first touchdown of the season … Jack Wright led the UND receivers with 53 yard on three catches, including a team-best 30 yards on a catch … Austin Clementson registered his first rushing touchdown of the season … Tommy Schuster was 23-for-36 passing with 234 yards and two touchdowns … Wyatt Pedigo was a machine in the second half, recording a UND-best six tackles including one for loss … North Dakota led possession for the third-straight game this season with a final time of 31:42 … The offense featured a good balance with 288 rushing yards and 239 passing.