UND Football Remains Perfect at Home With Win Over No. 9 Montana State
The Fighting Hawks defeated the Bobcats 16-12
GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Three ranked opponents have entered the Alerus Center this season, and for the first time in the program’s Division I history, three ranked opponents have fallen. Senior Alex Cloyd blocked a punt in the end zone that freshman Jayson Coley recovered with just 4:21 to play in the fourth quarter to help seal a 16-12 win over ninth-ranked Montana State on Saturday afternoon at the Alerus Center.
Cloyd, who scored a game-winning touchdown last week at Cal Poly, busted right through the middle of the MSU punt formation and was able to deflect the kick off his right hand and into the end zone, where Coley pounced on the loose ball for the score. This, following a 57-yard punt by Cade Peterson that pinned the Bobcats on the goal line.
On the ensuing Montana State (5-3, 2-2 Big Sky) possession, the UND (5-3) defense held strong with a stop on fourth down to seal the victory in front of 8,594 screaming fans.
MSU’s rushing offense took its toll on the UND defensive line that was down a pair of starters with 219 rushing yards, but the Fighting Hawks kept the Bobcats out of the end zone until the fourth quarter. The Cats, who had been averaging 50 points per game in three previous contests at the Alerus Center, were held to just 97 yards through the air to mark the fourth time this season UND has held its opponent to under 100 yards passing. Donnell Rodgers and Noah Larson were strong once again from the linebacker spot, each tallying 13 tackles to lead the team. Rodgers also finished with a sack and tackle for loss.
On the offensive side, UND turned to the passing game as Nate Ketteringham finished 27-of-36 for 220 yards while Brock Boltmann completed his lone pass for a 36-yard score to Travis Toivonen. Noah Wanzek led the green and white with six catches while Toivonen hauled in four for a game-high 84 yards and the touchdown. The Hawks could not muster much on the ground, however, as James Johannesson finished as UND’s leading rusher with 41 yards on 11 carries. As a team, UND finished with 60 yards on the ground.
Both teams finished with 316 total yards with Montana State holding a slight advantage in total plays and time of possession. For the fourth time in five games, UND did not force a turnover, but did stop the Bobcats on a fourth down and forced a missed field goal. The Hawks lost one fumble to move to -6 in turnover differential this season.
It was a sluggish start offensively for both sides, as MSU could only muster three points in the opening quarter, but UND was able to take the lead on its second drive when Toivonen followed his 24-yard catch from Ketteringham with a 36-yard catch-and-run off a double pass from Boltmann to put the Hawks in front, 7-3, after 15 minutes of play.
Miscues plagued the Fighting Hawks on offense for the rest of the first half, as a lost fumble and turnover on downs in Montana State territory ended promising drives. Tristian Bailey drilled a 39-yard field goal at the buzzer to cut the UND lead to one at the halftime break.
Each team held the ball only twice in the third quarter, with UND marching into MSU territory on both possessions, but only came away with three points as Brady Leach connected on a 28-yard attempt to extend the advantage to 10-6 after three quarters.
Montana State finally popped off a long run when Troy Andersen took the snap out of the wildcat formation down to the 1-yard line before he found pay dirt on the next play to give the Bobcats their first lead, 12-10, with just over eight minutes to play.
On the ensuing possession, UND looked poised to re-gain the lead, as Ketteringham found Wanzek for a 26-yard gain, but the Hawks were unable to do anything with the remainder of the drive and were forced to punt. Peterson then boomed a 57 yarder that was downed at the goal line to force the Cats to work out of the shadow of their end zone with 6:34 remaining.
The UND defense stood tall by stuffing three straight runs to force a MSU punt from deep in its end zone. There, Cloyd came through with the clutch block that Coley recovered for the score and the lead with just over five minutes on the clock.
After a MSU first down, Jade Lawrence came up with a huge sack on 2nd-and-5 before an incomplete pass and a final attempt that ended up short of the sticks gave the ball back to UND with the visitors unable to stop the clock.
North Dakota will enjoy an open week before heading to battle No. 4 Weber State on Nov. 9 in Ogden, Utah.
NOTES: UND moves to 3-0 at home vs. ranked opponents for the first time in program history and 4-0 at home for the third time in the DI era (2008 and 2016) … Donnell Rodgers and Noah Larson shared the lead with 13 tackles apiece … The 16-point output is the most in a win for UND since Sept. 20, 2014 vs. Stony Brook (13-3 W) … Evan Holm made his 2019 debut at defensive back after missing the first seven games with an injury … Graham DeVore and Griffin Lickfeldt returned from injury and each made their first-career starts … The No. 9 ranking held by Montana State is the highest win at home since Dec. 6, 2003 vs. North Alabama (No. 2).