(Grand Forks, ND) — It was a game of special teams Saturday afternoon at the Alerus Center, as the UND Fighting Hawks and NDSU Bison combined for four field goals in a 16-10 Bison victory in Missouri Valley Football Conference action.
In front of a capacity crowd, the two teams took a majority of the first quarter to feel each other out, with both teams trading punts. UND looked in prime position early to potentially escape with a win, but fell short in the end.
“I was really proud of our guys today,” UND head coach Bubba Schweigert said after the game. “We knew it was going to be a physical game, and I think our guys really brought it today and played physical football, and we came up short.”
But it was Cade Peterson’s 42-yard punt with 9:02 to go that set up the eventual first score of the game. An initial rush by Bison quarterback Quincy Patterson, eating up 27 yards, set up a first down from the North Dakota 38-yard line. Nine plays later, after a Cam Miller completion to Noah Gindorff, Jake Reinholz got the Bison on the board with a 45-yard field goal.
UND took the lead on the next drive, an eight-play, 73-yard drive capped off by a Tommy Schuster 30-yard pass to Bo Belquist. Adam Stage’s extra point kick put the Fighting Hawks up 7-3 with 1:26 to go in the first quarter.
The special teams barrage continued early in the second quarter, as Reinholz put the Bison within one point after a 34-yard field goal, capping a drive that spanned only 32 yards on seven plays in just under three minutes.
NDSU took the lead, for good, with 4:34 left on another field goal. Reinholz nailed a field goal from 30 yards out, giving the Bison a 9-7 lead with under five minutes to go in the third quarter.
Field position then was the name of the game until NDSU’s final scoring drive began with 5:47 to go in the fourth quarter. Eight plays later, Patterson found the end zone from three yards out. The extra point was good, giving NDSU a 16-7 lead in the closing minutes of the contest.
But UND would not go away.
“We need to find a way to make some more plays,” Schweigert said. “I made a decision to put our team in a tough spot. I thought our defense responded well when I wanted to do that.”
What was an original return to the UND 28-yard line turns into a start on the UND 43-yard line after NDSU was assessed a 15-yard personal foul penalty. The drive came with just 1:07 left.
In just 51 seconds, UND was able to bring the ball to the NDSU 28-yard line, setting up a successful 46-yard field goal by Stage, bringing the Fighting Hawks within six.
An attempt at an on-side kick was unsuccessful, and the Bison took the victory formation final knee at the UND 42-yard line to end the contest.
UND edged the Bison in total offensive yards, 289-280, with the Fighting Hawks hurling the ball in the air for 176 yards, compared to NDSU’s 57.
Patterson finished 4-of-10 passing for 48 yards for NDSU, while Schuster finished 18-of-32 passing for 176 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Patterson led all rushers in the game with 92 yards and a touchdown for NDSU, while Otis Weah finished with 85 yards rushing for UND. Noah Gindorff finished with four receptions for 58 yards for NDSU, while Luke Skokna had six receptions for 50 yards.
NDSU will host Northern Iowa next Saturday at 1 p.m. at the FargoDome, while the Fighting Hawks will travel to Vermillion next Saturday for a 2 p.m. matchup against the Coyotes of USD.