GRAND FORKS, N.D. - The North Dakota football team is set to clash with UC Davis for the first time as Big Sky members. The two teams have some history, albeit brief, as the two met up once in the Division II playoffs in 2001 and four times as members of the Great West Conference from 2008-11.
Both schools joined the Big Sky prior to the 2012 season although UC Davis is a football-only member.
UND (3-7, 2-5 BSC) will also be the first league team to wrap up its regular season and Big Sky slate on Saturday. Kickoff vs. the Aggies (3-7, 3-3 BSC) is slated for 6:05 p.m. CT from Aggie Stadium.
• This is the first meeting between these two teams as Big Sky foes.
• UC Davis held a 3-1 edge in Great West matchups between 2008-2011 and holds a 3-2 lead in the overall series.
• Head coach Chris Mussman picked up his first win against the Aggies on the road in 2011 after dropping the first three contests. UND, who was ranked No. 22 in the country at the time, won that game 14-7 in a season where the Green and White would go onto share the Great West Conference title.
• The teams first met during the 2001 Division II playoffs when UND defeated UC Davis 14-2 in the semifinals en route to the national title that season.
• Both of UND’s two Big Sky wins this season have been by three points.
• There are 10 Californians on the UND roster and seven on the travel roster.
LIVE FROM DAVIS
Video: Watch Big Sky (www.WatchBigSky.com - FREE webcast)
Radio: 96.1 FM — Grand Forks — Pregame at 5 p.m. CT
Audio: UND Radio Network broadcast also available at www.UNDSports.com
Stats: Live stats available at www.UNDSports.com
Twitter: For live scoring updates and game notes follow @UNDFootball
NEXT OPPONENT: UC DAVIS
It has been a season of streaks for first-year head coach Ron Gould and his UC Davis football team.
UC Davis dropped its first four games - all non-conference affairs, but when Big Sky play started, the Aggies reeled off three wins in four tries to create a little momentum. As North Dakota found out, playing the top-tier of the Big Sky can quickly bring you back down to reality.
The Aggies have lost back-to-back games to Montana State and Cal Poly , but enter the UND game coming off a bye week.
Gabe Manzanares leads the Big Sky in rushing yards per game in league action, racking up 144.7 ypg. He is one of three Big Sky backs with more than 1,000 yards rushing already this season.
Unfortunately Manzanares' big yardage has not led to many points. Only Weber State (15.2 ppg) is scoring fewer points a game than the Aggies’ offense (15.9 ppg). UC Davis scored its most points of the season in a 34-18 victory over Northern Colorado (Oct. 19). The Aggies have scored 85 points (28.3 ppg) in their three wins and only 74 points in their seven losses (10.4 ppg).
Two of the Aggies three Big Sky wins have come against the same league foes UND has defeated in 2013 (Northern Colorado and Idaho State). UC Davis defeated Idaho State at home 30-13. The Aggies have also won a league game vs. Southern Utah, who is 4-2 in Big Sky play and sitting at seven wins overall. The victory over the T-Birds has been the most impressive of the Gould era as UC Davis held SUU to just a field goal in a 21-3 victory.
UC Davis is 10th in the Big Sky in rush defense, allowing 212.3 ypg, but UND is last in the league in rush offense, gaining 82.1 ypg.
SENIOR DAY SEND OFF
Senior Greg Hardin broke a pair of UND career records and caught the game-winning touchdown in a 24-21 victory over Northern Colorado on Senior Day. Hardin’s 11-yard touchdown catch capped a comeback from a 21-6 deficit.
The Bellevue, Neb., native finished the game with seven catches for 95 yards and broke UND’s all-time regular season record for career receptions, finishing the day with 205 and the program’s all-time overall record for receiving yards, finishing with 3,404. Current Saskatchewan Roughrider Weston Dressler held both of those marks entering the contests at 199 and 3,382, respectively.
Hardin goes into his final collegiate game with 31 career touchdowns, which is second among active FCS players and second behind Dressler (35) on UND’s charts. He has five 100-yard receiving games this season and is only 26 yards shy of posting his second straight 1,000-yard receiving campgain.
Hardin is averaging 97.7 yards per game (3rd in the Big Sky/12th in the FCS) this season despite being held without a catch vs. Montana State (Sept. 28). That was the only game in his career where he did not finish with at least one reception (40 games).
Hardin is also putting together one of the best all-purpose yardage campaigns in UND history. He currently leads the Big Sky in all-purpose yardage, averaging 180.2 ypg and has accumulated at least 100 all-purpose yards in each game this season. Hardin’s average is the fourth best in the FCS and with 163 more all-purpose yards would become just the third player in UND history to amass 5,000 in regular season play.
Hardin has 818 kickoff return yards, 974 receiving yards and 10 rushing yards to bring his season total to 1,802. UND’s single-season record for all-purpose yards is 1,949 set by Ryan Chappel in 2007.
Senior defenders Garrison Goodman (San Ramon, Calif.) and Will Lewis (Pittsburg, Calif.) will be playing their final collegiate games on Saturday in their home state of California. Goodman, who leads all active UND players with 168 career tackles, hails from San Ramon, Calif. Lewis, who has started the last two games and had the game-clinching interception in Saturday’s 24-21 victory over Northern Colorado, is from Pittsburg, Calif. Both Goodman’s and Lewis’ hometowns are just about an hour drive from Aggie Stadium in Davis. There are 10 total players on the UND roster from the state of California. Seven are in line to make the trip to the Golden State for Saturday’s season finale.
MEMORABLE FIVE MINUTES FOR SENIORS
With the score 21-16 and Northern Colorado possesing the ball on its own 35-yard line with just under five minutes to play, the 2013 senior class made a memorable closing statement in their Alerus Center careers. The first of the big plays came from linebacker Dominique Bennett, who stripped UNC running back Tromaine Dennis of the football. Classmate Seth Stanchik pounced on the loose ball to give UND prime field position at the Bears’ 31-yard line. Five plays later, redshirt freshman Ryan Bartels found senior Greg Hardin in the back of the end zone on an 11-yard strike to give UND its first lead of the game at 22-21. A successful 2-point conversion put the home team up by three with just over two minutes to play on the clock. After UNC quarterback Seth Lobato moved his team to midfield, safety Will Lewis made sure his class would walk off their home turf victorious as he sealed the win with his third career interception.
BARTELS AND BACK-TO-BACK 300 GAMES
Redshirt freshman Ryan Bartels had not played in four games, but since relieving Joe Mollberg after the second series at Northern Arizona (Nov. 2), the UND signal caller has completed 70 of 106 passes for 711 yards and six touchdowns. He was named the Sports Network Co-Freshman of the Week after his performance at NAU when he set UND rookie records for completions (39) and yards (367) and finished with four touchdown passes to sophomore Kenny Golladay. In the 24-21 victory over Northern Colorado, Bartels engineered the game-winning touchdown drive with just over two minutes to play and finished with his second straight 300-yard passing game (31-for-47, 344 yards, 2 TDs). For the season, the Sycamore, Ill., native is completing 63.9 percent of his passes and is 2-2 as a starter.
THREE WITH FIFTY
UND is the only team in the Big Sky with three receivers ranked among the top 10 in the league in catches per game. The trio of Kenny Golladay (64), Greg Hardin (56) and Jameer Jackson (50) each have at least 50 catches, joining Idaho State as the only other league team to have three receivers with 50 or more grabs. Golladay’s 64 receptions are the third most in the Big Sky and is one reception shy of moving into UND’s top 10 list for single-season receptions.
JACKSON GRABS 11 IN RETURN TO ACTION
Sophomore Jameer Jackson missed the Northern Arizona (Nov. 2) game and was limited the week before at Portland State (Oct. 26), but had a fine return to action in the win over Northern Colorado. Jackson caught a career-high 11 passes for 89 yards and now has 50 catches on the season. It was the second time in his career he had double-digit catches (vs. Eastern Washington; 10-110).
GO-GO GOLLADAY HONORED BY CFPA
Sophomore Kenny Golladay had no idea he had broken a UND single-game record with 16 receptions for 123 yards at Northern Arizona (Nov. 2). He said he would have taken the win over the record, but his impressive feat earned him College Football Performance Awards National Wide Receiver of the Week. Golladay broke the old record of 15, which was held by three different former UND receivers. The latest with 15 catches was Weston Dressler, who had that total in a 2006 game at Nebraska-Omaha. Golladay also broke a UND regular season single-game record with four touchdown receptions. Nine different times had a UND receiver caught three touchdown passes in a regular season game, but never four. Senior Greg Hardin has four of those three-touchdown games to his credit. Jesse Smith had the only game with four receiving touchdowns in UND history, doing so in the playoff run for the 2001 Division II national title vs. Winona State.
BARTELS NABS NATIONAL HONOR
Sports Network officials named North Dakota quarterback Ryan Bartels their co-National Freshman of the Week on Monday. Bartels shared the honor with Youngstown State running back Martin Ruiz. Bartels came off the bench and threw for a UND freshman record 367 yards and four touchdowns in a 48-27 loss to No. 14 Northern Arizona on Saturday. All four of his touchdown passes went to sophomore Kenny Golladay, who set the UND single-game record with 16 receptions. Bartels also completed a school freshman record 39 passes on 59 attempts in the contest. For Bartels, it was his first action since the Montana State game on Sept. 28. His completion and touchdowns totals in just over three quarters of work at the Walkup Skydome exceeded his season totals from two starts and two relief appearances in UND’s first four games (29-for-49, two touchdowns).
HOME RUN HARDIN
Senior Greg Hardin has racked up more than 4,800 all-purpose yards in his UND career and nearly 500 of those have come on plays of 80 yards or longer. On UND’s second possession of the Portland State game on Oct. 5, Hardin took a quick pass from redshirt freshman Joe Mollberg, used a great block from wideout Kenny Golladay and raced 80 yards past the Viking defense for the 30th receiving touchdown of his career. The 80-yard catch-and-run was the sixth play of his career that went for 80 or more yards (three receptions, three kick off returns).
MAGIC CARPET RIDE
• UND is 68-18 in 12 seasons at the Alerus Center, including a 10-0 mark in the Division II playoffs. UND has gone undefeated in the building during a season three times (2003, 2004 and 2006).
• Head coach Chris Mussman is 22-13 all-time at UND’s home facility and improved to 4-0 in season openers at the Alerus thanks to the 69-10 victory over Valparaiso last Thursday.
• In those 22 home wins under Mussman’s guidance, UND is averaging 39.4 ppg and the team is 18-1 at home when scoring 30 or more points. The only setback occurred last season when Northern Arizona defeated UND 45-38 on Oct. 13.
As the season has progressed, the North Dakota defense is showing signs of improving on a consistent basis. After yielding a combined 1,667 yards of total offense (555.6 ypg/51.0 ppg) in losses to ranked foes South Dakota State (455), Montana (609) and Montana State (603), the defense has only allowed 2,422 yards (403.6 ypg/29.0 ppg) in its last six games. Two games ago, UND’s defense held Portland State to a season-low 14 points in Big Sky play and the Vikings were scoreless through three quarters.
The numbers are down a bit from the previous seasons, but the North Dakota special teams unit has been one of the top-kick blocking groups in the FSC since moving up the Division I level in 2008. Redshirt freshman Mike Edwards picked up his second of the season by blocking an extra-point against Sacramento State (Oct. 19) and Ben Henson netted the first of his career at Portland State (Oct. 26) to bring UND’s season total to three. Edwards and Henson both have two blocks on the season and the UND special teams unit has blocked 37 over the past five-plus seasons. Junior center Shea Walker is the team’s active career leader with five, while senior linebacker Cordero Finley has three. Henson’s latest block was arguably the biggest of the season as it came last Saturday’s 3-point victory over Northern Colorado.
MILLER MISSES SENIOR DAY
Senior Jake Miller suffered a shoulder injury in the first half of the Northern Arizona game and missed the Senior Day win over Northern Colorado. Miller remains questionable for the season finale at UC Davis. Miller is currently tied for fifth all-time at UND with 23 career rushing touchdowns, including five this season. He surpassed the 2,000-yard rushing plateau for his career in the win at Idaho State. Through 41 career regular season games, Miller’s rushing total is at 2,106 yards, which is 94 yards from UND’s top 10 list in that category.
KUKSA OUT FOR THE SEASON
Head coach Chris Mussman announced last week that freshman safety Cam Kuksa would be sidelined for the remainder of the season with a neck injury. The injury occurred at Portland State last week - a game that Kuksa finished with a career-high 13 tackles. Kuksa was inserted into the starting lineup four games ago and totalled 33 tackles in those starts. Kuksa, who missed the opener, moved up to second on the team in total tackles with that performance at PSU. Kuksa was the only true freshman to start a game for UND this season. Fellow classmate Dustin Iverson is the only true freshman playing on offense. Defensive tackle Marcus Cheatom has appeared in nine of UND’s 10 games this season.
Sophomore safety Devin Coyle is starting to train for quite the adventure and it’s all for a good cause. Coyle and two of his friends from his hometown of Mandan, N.D. will take some time this summer to bike from North Dakota’s capital of Bismarck all the way to St. Petersburg, Fla. The trio are embarking on the 2,000-mile trek and Bike2Believe Tour to bring awareness and raise support for cancer. Coyle and his friends plan to launch a website to track their progress and collect donations.
RED ZONE SUCCESS
North Dakota has converted 25 of its 28 opportunities inside the opponent’s red zone into points this season. The conversion rate of 89.3 percent is third in the Big Sky and 11th overall in the FCS. Twenty of those 25 scores have gone for touchdowns. UND was a perfect 14-for-14 through the first four games before coming up empty on its first trip inside the red zone at Idaho State on Oct. 5. UND went 2-for-3 inside the red zone at Northern Arizona in its last outing.
Junior running back Adam Shaugabay has carried the football only 35 times this season, but the Warroad, Minn., native has found the end zone on seven of those attempts. Shaugabay’s seven rushing touchdowns lead the team. For his career, Shaugabay has nine rushing touchdowns on 57 attempts.
DOME SWEET DOME
UND played nine of its first 10 games indoors during the 2013 season, including the first seven contests. Besides the upcoming game at UC Davis, the only other outdoor game was a 14-10 loss at Portland State on Oct. 26.
North Dakota is averaging a 24.4 points per game through 10 contests and has seen each unit on the team score multiple touchdowns. The offense has scored 27 touchdowns, but both the special teams and defense have also found the end zone. The special teams scored twice in the season-opening win over Valpo thanks to a 90-yard kickoff return from Greg Hardin and a 64-yard punt return by Kenny Golladay. Hardin provided the third special teams touchdown of the season at Idaho State with a 99-yard kickoff return. Meanwhile, the defense has found pay dirt twice this season with fumble returns for scores against Montana State and Idaho State.
MILLER ON MITCHELL AWARD WATCH LIST
Senior Zeb Miller was one of 35 placekickers throughout all levels of college football to be honored for his performance both on and off the field during the first two months of the season. Miller, who went 6-for-9 on field goals and 23-for-24 on PATs in UND’s first eight games, is a candidate for the Fred Mitchell Award. For the season, Miller is 7-for-11 on field goals and 27-for-29 on PATs. The award is given annually to the nation’s top place-kicker based on performance on the field and in the community. Miller has made 42 field goals during his career, which ranks fourth among active players in the FCS and fourth on UND’s all-time career charts.
Senior Greg Hardin and sophomore Kenny Golladay have the UND kickoff and punt return teams ranked near the top of the Big Sky standings through eight games. Hardin is averaging 24.8 yards per kickoff return, which is third in the league. He is one of two Big Sky players and one of eight in the FCS with a pair of kickoff returns for touchdowns this season. Golladay is averaging 12.6 yards per punt return and had a 64-yard touchdown in the season opener. The 64-yard return by Golladay is the longest in the Big Sky this season.
The North Dakota defense entered the Idaho State game having forced just two turnovers (fumbles) through four games, but the unit doubled that total against the Bengals. The four forced miscues are the most for a UND defense since collecting three interceptions and a fumble in a 2011 (Oct. 29) contest at Northern Colorado.
Senior Chavon Mackey, who was starting at cornerback for the first time this season, collected the first interception of the season for UND in the second quarter and added his second of the game in the third. Mackey only had two interceptions in 35 career games entering the contest. Both of Mackey’s interceptions came just a play and two plays, respectively, following a UND turnover.
Sophomore Dayo Idowu was in on the next two turnovers, picking off Justin Arias in the third quarter, then deflecting a pitch in the fourth quarter that resulted in linebacker Ben Peters falling on the eventual game-winning touchdown in the end zone. For Idowu, the interception and forced fumble were both the first of his career.
FOUR TRUE FRESHMEN SEE ACTION
Three true freshmen made their collegiate debuts in the season-opening win over Valparaiso and four total have played in the first seven games. Fullback Dustin Iverson played on special teams and carried the ball twice for three yards vs. Valpo. Defensive tackle Marcus Cheatom also saw action in a reserve role and had two tackle assists. Freshman punter Mitch Meindel made the box score, but for duties other than punting. Meindel only went back to punt once in the opener, but instead of punting, he took off running after an errant snap. Meindel gained a first down on the play after scampering for 17 yards. Freshman safety Cam Kuksa was suspended for the opener for a violation of team rules, but made a solo tackle in his first collegiate action vs. SDSU and added four in the loss to Montana. Kuksa has since started four games and ranks second on the team with 46 tackles.
In the last three seasons, only four UND players have played during their true freshman season: Jake Miller (RB; 2010), R.J McGill (WR; 2010), Jer Garman (RB; 2011) and Kenny Golladay (WR; 2012).
LEE BOHNET HONORED
Longtime UND sports information director Lee Bohnet had the press box at the Alerus Center named after him in a special ceremony held Saturday morning at the current home of UND football. Bohnet, who passed away in 1999 after a long illness, became the first sports information director (SID) in UND history after he was hired by athletic director Glenn “Red” Jarrett in 1953. A World War II veteran, Bohnet worked in the SID role for 35 years until his retirement in 1988. Known for his in-depth researching and undaunted loyalty to the Fighting Sioux, Bohnet is a member of the UND Athletics, College Sports Information Directors of America and North Central Conference Hall of Fames. He wrote the book “A Century of UND Sports”, which chronicled the history of the athletic department’s first 100 years of existence and found no greater joy than when UND defeated its fiercest rivals on the gridiron, court or ice. Bohnet was also the co-creator of the Potato Bowl USA game that has been annual affair for UND since 1966. He will have a plaque placed in the Alerus Center press box to celebrate his legacy as one of the best SIDs in the history of college athletics.
PERMANENT CAPTAINS FOR 2013
Senior linebacker Garrison Goodman and senior wide receiver Blair Townsend were voted permanent team captains for the upcoming 2013 season. Goodman appeared in only seven games a season ago, but still ranked fourth on the team in tackles. Townsend had his most productive season to date, catching 27 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns.
UND attempted 396 passes during the 2012 campaign, which is a mark only topped once in program history by the 1986 squad (433). The 1986 campaign was also the only other season in UND history where the offense attempted more passes than rushes before 2012. UND rushed 349 times during its inaugural Big Sky season, which was 47 fewer times than the quarterbacks put the ball in the air. So far in 2013, that trend has continued. UND has thrown 382 passes through 10 games, which averages out to 38.2 pass attempts per game. At that rate, UND quarterbacks would attempt 420 passes in 2013. The team has only rushed 295 times.
MCGILL TO REDSHIRT
Head coach Chris Mussman announced at the end of fall camp that senior wide receiver R.J. McGill will take his redshirt this season and have one season of eligibility left in 2014. McGill suffered a season-ending knee injury vs. Cal Poly in the fifth game of the 2012 campaign and had to have another minor procedue done to his knee in late August.
WHERE IT RANKED
The UND offense scored its most points since moving to the Division I era in the 69-10 season-opening victory over Valpo. It was also the most points scored by UND since defeating Morningside 69-0 in 1972.
• The 69 points were also the third most scored by a FCS team and most by a Big Sky team during the opening weekend.
• Senior wideout Greg Hardin’s 163 receiving yards were the fourth most among FCS receivers in the opening weekend and his 253 all-purpose yards were the second most.
• Redshirt freshman Ryan Bartels pass efficiency was 259.2, which was tops in the Big Sky and would have been tops in the FCS, but he fell short of the minimum requirement of 15 attempts (10-for-12).
Head coach Chris Mussman has two new coordinators calling plays on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball in 2013. Long-time coordinators Greg Breitbach (offensive) and Mike Mannausua (defensive) left the program following the 2012 season. Breitbach is now the head coach at Millersville (Pa.) University - a Division II institution, while Mannausau took over as the Assistant A.D. and executive director of the Champions Club at UND. Their replacements weren’t hard to find, in fact both were just down the hallway as assistant head coach and linebackers coach Josh Kotelnicki was elevated to defensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Luke Schleusner takes over the reigns as offensive coordinator. Kotelnicki and Schleusner are no strangers to the program as both were key contributors to the 2001 Division II national championship won by UND and both have been on Mussman’s coaching staff. Kotelnicki is entering his eighth season overall on the coaching staff, while Schleusner begins his third. Safeties coach Benny Boyd will take over as the special teams coordinator – a post that Kotelnicki held since the 2008 season.
After landing on The Sports Network All-America Third Team last season (65 catches, 1,145 yards and 15 TDs), senior wide receiver Greg Hardin garnered plenty of preseason accolades and deservedly so. Hardin was on five preseason All-America Teams (Beyond Sports Network, 1st Team; The Sports Network, 2nd Team, Phil Steele’s, 2nd Team WR and KR, USA College Football; 1st Team and College Sports Journal; 2nd Team). Hardin is also one of 41 FCS players on the Senior Bowl watch list for an invite to that prestigious event and College Football Performance Awards officials have him on their watch lists for wide receiver and kickoff returner of the year accolades. Classmate Zeb Miller was named to the CFPA’s watch list for the organization’s Placekicker of the Year Award and is on the Fred Mitchell watch list for a similar honor. He was also named a preseason All-American by Phil Steele’s (3rd Team) and College Sports Journal (Third Team).
NO FBS GAMES IN 2013
After playing at least one game against a FBS opponent in each of the last four seasons, UND will take a one-year break from playing a team from the highest level of college football. The 2013 schedule worked out to where UND will have seven home games, including non-conference games against Valparaiso, South Dakota State and Montana. UND will resume playing FBS teams in 2014 and has at least one of those opponents scheduled through the 2018 season. Three of UND’s last five games against FBS foes have been decided by eight points or less, including a 49-41 loss at San Diego State in 2012.
2014: Sat., Aug. 30 at San Jose State (Mountain West)
2015: Sat., Sept. 5 at Wyoming (Mountain West)
2016: TBA vs. Bowling Green (MAC)
2017: Thur., Aug. 31 at Utah (Pac-12)
2018: Sat., Sept. 15 at Washington (Pac-12)
FCS teams are allowed to play 12 games this season, but UND and Northern Arizona are the only two in the Big Sky that opted to play 11. The remaining 11 league teams all have full schedules. Like UND, NAU is also playing a non-conference game against a Big Sky foe when the Lumberjacks play at UC Davis on Sept. 14.
COACHING STAFF SHUFFLE
With the elevations of Josh Kotelnicki to defensive coordinator and Luke Schleusner to offensive coordinator, head coach Chris Mussman had some openings to fill on his coaching staff. He filled those by hiring Mike Cunningham to coach the offensive line, former UND safety Joel Schwenzfeier to coach the running backs and Truman State graduate Jason Thier to coach the inside linebackers. Cunningham comes to UND after a seven-year stint with Mankato State where he coached the O-line and was also the running game coordinator since 2009. For Schwenzfeier, this is his first collegiate coaching job, while Thier arrived in Grand Forks after two seasons as the defensive coordinator at Montana Western (NAIA). Assistant Coach Kyle Myers was elevated to a full-time post as well prior to spring football and will coach the defensive line after coaching the outside linebackers in 2012.
TOP 50 BIG SKY MOMENTS
The Big Sky Conference is celebrating 50 years of sponsoring men’s collegiate sports this year by selecting the top 50 student-athletes and moments during the league’s first half-century. UND has only been a Big Sky member for just over a year now, but southpaw Braden Hanson managed to put UND on the “Top 50 Moments” list with a jaw-dropping performance in the 40-34 victory over Montana last season. Hanson’s Big Sky record 660-yard passing game came in as the No. 46 moment. The left-handed transfer from North Carolina spent only one season in Grand Forks, but left his name in both the school’s and Big Sky record books. Hanson completed a UND record 42 passes that day and his 660 yards are the most ever by a left-handed quarterback at any level of NCAA Football. The Alerus Center faithful were also treated to a record-setting day by one of Hanson’s receivers as Greg Hardin broke the Big Sky’s single-game receiving record by hauling in 333 yards on 12 receptions. It was also Hardin’s third three-touchdown game of the season.
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