North Dakota football opens the 2018 season with another August victory, beating Mississippi Valley State 35-7.
GRAND FORKS — Another August game, the same success for North Dakota. Another contest, the same woes for Mississippi Valley State.
Nate Ketteringham threw three touchdown passes, ran for another and the defense accounted for seven sacks and the Fighting Hawks opened the 2018 season Thursday night with a 35-7 victory over the Delta Devils from the Alerus Center.
“I thought our guys did a lot of good things,” said UND head coach Bubba Schweigert. “Overall we won the football game here at home and we’re going to learn from it.”
The Fighting Hawks (1-0) came into the game winning seven of its past nine August games scoring an average of 43.2 points per. They fell short of that number, scoring their lowest point total in an August win since scoring 28 against Delta State in 2004 but it was enough against a game Mississippi Valley State team which lost last season’s opener to North Dakota State by 65 and which has only won three games in two seasons.
“It was 21-7 (at halftime) and we’re in a dogfight at that time. It was a two-score game,” Schweigert said.
Ketteringham threw two of his three touchdowns in the first half, connecting with Travis Toivonen from 40 yards out that completed a six play, 65 yard drive. Ketteringham would find Garett Maag in the end zone for a 16 yard touchdown that put UND up 21-0. However, the Delta Devils capped an eight play, 70 yard drive when Demarcus Frazier caught 29 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Chris Fowler, and adding the extra point cut UND’s advantage 14.
But Ketteringham’s third touchdown pass, this one to Luke Fielder from 16 yards out in the third essentially put the game out of reach. Ketteringham finished 19 for 30 for 225 yards. He also sneaked in from 2 yards out for a rushing touchdown in the first quarter.
“Basically I just wanted to go out there and execute,” Ketteringham said of his debut as the Fighting Hawks’ starting quarterback. “There was a little bit of nerves, but it was more of an anxiety to get going.”
“Hats off to North Dakota, they’re a well coached team, very disciplined but our coaches put us in a position and as players we have to take advantage of that,” said MVSU quarterback Chris Fowler, who finished with 263 yards passing. “I believe we beat ourselves.”
MVSU had two red zone chances to score in the first quarter. The Delta Devils (0-1) got the ball to UND’s 5 but a delay a game penalty followed by a sack made it fourth down from the 12. Ruben Piraquive’s field goal attempt failed as the ball hit the left upright. On the very next possession, Isaiah Robinson fumbled from the 2 and the Fighting Hawks recovered.
“We left 17 points out there early in the first half,” said MVSU head coach Vincent Dancy. “I’m very proud of my guys of what they did. They fought hard all game.”
Brady Oliveira had 14 carries for 108 yards, John Santiago had 161 all purpose yards and Noah Larson had six tackles for UND which will be on the road Sept. 8 at last season’s Fiesta Bowl participant Washington.
Chris Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @ChrisHarris_DLJ