Idaho State allowed zero points and just 150 yards in the second half to beat No. 22 North Dakota 25-21.
GRAND FORKS — The difference between a win and a loss came down to a loose ball.
Leading 14-6, No. 22 North Dakota had a chance to put a cushion between them and Idaho State. With the ball inside the Bengals 5, UND running back Brady Oliveira fumbled at the 4 going in, the Bengals recovered and used a three-play, 80 yard drive to change the dynamics of the 25-21 Fighting Hawks loss Saturday from the Alerus Center.
“It gave them (Idaho State) momentum and took it away from us,” Fighting Hawks head coach Bubba Schweigert said about that turnover. “We had all of the momentum up to that point. And they scored so quickly and that what was really disappointing. Three plays and they were in the end zone.
“It changed the momentum, it changed the game at that point.”
The drive started for UND (2-2) from their own 37 after Jordan Canady intercepted Bengals quarterback Tanner Gueller. The Fighting Hawks moved the ball to the Bengals 4 after Nate Ketteringham’s pass found Alex Cloyd for 28 yards. On the next play, Brady fumbles the ball and Idaho State’s Anthony Ricks recovered it the end zone for the Bengals touchback.
Idaho State’s first play from scrimmage was a 55 yard run by Ty Flannigan. Jame Madison followed that with a 23 yard scamper to UND’s 2. Madison crossed the goal line on the ensuing play and with Campbell Sheidow’s extra point, the Bengals went from potentially trailing by 15 to trailing by one.
“That’s why I don’t like this job,” Bengals head coach Rob Phenicie said with a chuckle about that momentum swing. “The thing with this is that our kids never flinched. It was like ‘we’re gonna stop them, something’s gonna happen. We’re gonna stop them.’ That’s something that we talk about don’t flinch and they didn’t.”
The Bengals (2-1) took the lead on their next possession after Sheidow made a 22 yard field goal but UND responded. After Evan Holm’s 48 yard kickoff return to the 50, Noah Wanzekcaught a 46 yard touchdown pass from Ketteringham that gave the Fighting Hawks the 21-16 lead with 3:20 remaining until halftime.
It was the last points UND scored.
“We came out there flat. We have to fix something,” Ketteringham said. He finished 19 of 38 for 224 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, the final one in the end zone on UND’s final play of the game.
“We have to fix something.”
“We had a good week of practice, we got off to a good start offensively. We were ahead at halftime and did not play great. It was a tale of two halves,” Schweigert said.
The Fighting Hawks scored on their first two possessions of the game, receiving the opening kickoff and going 81 yards in 11 plays with John Santiago running it in from 32 yards out. Ketteringham’s 5 yard touchdown pass to Travis Toivonen capped off a 12 play, 83 yard drive and gave UND the 14-3 lead. After gaining 319 yards of total offense in the first half, the Fighting Hawks were held to just 150 in the final 30 minutes.
“We didn’t change that much up, we just stuck to what we’re good at,” said Kody Graves, who had 10 tackles for the Bengals. “The first quarter was an adjustment but after we settled down we didn’t give up any points in the second half.”
Santiago had 13 carries for 111 yards and Wankez finished with five catches for 109 yards.
Flanagan rushed for 119 yards, Madison finished with 106 yards on the ground and Mitch Gueller had three catches for 108 yards and the go ahead score from 67 yards out in the fourth quarter to lead Idaho State.
Chris Harris can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter: @ChrisHarris_DLJ