Special teams make big late game plays to help lift the Fighting Hawks over Bobcats and remain unbeaten at Alerus Center.
GRAND FORKS — The Alerus Center has been kind to North Dakota up to this point of the 2019 season. Coming into their game against ninth-ranked Montana State, the Fighting Hawks were 3-for-3 in home games.
And the ‘Hawks got something ‘special’ on Saturday, Oct. 26 to make it 4-for-4.
A defensive sequence that began with a Cade Peterson 57 yard punt that pinned the Bobcats at their 1, ended with a Jayson Coley blocked punt recovery in the end zone that led to the Fighting Hawks escaping with the 16-12 win, their third victory over a Football Championship Subdivision Top 25 team this season and all inside the Alerus. Montana State was the highest ranked opponent to lose in Alerus since UND moved up to FCS.
“What was really good to see was the special teams really come through for us down the stretch,” said Fighting Hawks head coach Bubba Schweigert.
The Hawks (5-3) who led the entirety of the game since trailing 3-0 in the first quarter, lost the lead when Troy Andersen punched the ball in from the 1 with 8 minutes, six seconds remaining in the game. The score was set up after Andersen broke a 49 yard run on the previous play to get to the 1-yard line. The Bobcats (5-3) went for the two-point conversion but failed leaving the door the open for UND.
“That’s the thing to do,” said Bobcats head coach Jeff Choate on the two-point attempt. “It’s a two point game so you go for two so a field goal doesn’t win the game for them and I know that they are good in that situation.”
The Bobcats’ defense held on UND’s ensuing possession, but Peterson’s punt rolled all the way to the 1 — his third punt inside the 20 for the game. Three plays later, Alex Cloyd beat his man on the edge, blocked Jered Padmos’ punt and Coley hopped on the live football for what proved to be the winning 6.
“We called a block scheme and I was right off the edge. I saw that he had me man to man, I did a little move on him and got right by him,” Cloyd said. When asked where the ball hit him, Cloyd pointed to his right upper wrist.
“I think our guys are developing a belief which is really important for the football team but we obviously we can do some things better,” Schweigert said. “I’m really proud of my guys.”
Nate Ketteringham was 27-for-36 passing for 220 yards. Travis Toivonen had 84 yards receiving, including a 36 yard touchdown reception in the first quarter that was thrown by Brock Boltmann on a wide receiver pass that gave the Fighting Hawks the 7-3 lead.
UND held the Bobcats 21 points under their season average. Neither team turned the ball over.
“Congratulations to the University of North Dakota. It was a hard fought game, a tough environment, thought those guys had a good plan. Offensively, we struggled the entire day; we really didn’t find our traction regardless of what we tried to do,” Choate said.
The Fighting Hawks will return from the bye week to travel to Ogden, Utah to play Weber State on Nov. 9th.
Box score can be found here.
Chris Harris can be reached at email@example.com.