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Senior De'mun Mercer had three catches for 32 yards in the opener at Utah.
Game Notes: UND opens home slate with Potato Bowl
Release: 09/05/2017
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GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- The Fighting Hawks enter the Potato Bowl and home opener against Missouri State ranked No. 11 in the both the STATS FCS Top 25 poll and FCS Coaches’ Top 25 poll. Kickoff against the Bears in the 52nd-annual Potato Bowl is scheduled for 4 p.m. The Fighting Hawks have played Missouri State only once before on the gridiron with the Bears blanking UND 38-0 in game three of the 2014 season.

The shutout at the hands of the Bears is the only one in head coach Bubba Schweigert’s UND tenure (36 games). He was shut out twice as the Minnesota-Duluth head coach (once by UND and once by St. Cloud State in 2014). UND is 4-4 against current Missouri Valley Conference foes since moving up to the Division I level.


• UND dropped three spots in the STATS poll and only one in the coaches’ poll after its 37-16 loss to No. 25 Utah (FBS) in last Thursday’s season opener.
• The game at Utah was UND’s first time playing a ranked FBS foe and only second against a Power Five program (Texas Tech; 2009).
• With last year’s 5-1 record in the Alerus Center, UND now owns an 81-23 record in the 16-year-old building. The Fighting Hawks are 13-4 at home under fourth-year head coach Bubba Schweigert.
• Missouri State will be the first of two Missouri Valley Football Conference opponents UND will face in 2017. The Fighting Hawks will travel to South Dakota next Saturday to wrap up its three-game, non-conference slate.
• Both of those games are part of the newly-established Big Sky-Missouri Valley Football Conference Challenge that will see eight intraconference-games played between members of the two leagues during the 2017 season (more information on page 4).
• UND is 9-0 in home openers during the Division I era, including a 47-44 double-overtime victory against South Dakota in last season’s Potato Bowl. The overall streak is currently at 30-consecutive victories with the last loss coming in 1986 to Texas A&M-Kingsville (67-44).
• UND moved to 5-5 in season openers at the Division I level following the 21-point loss to Utah. The setback also dropped UND to 1-9 all-time against FBS opponents.

UND opened the 2017 season with a 37-16 loss at No. 25 Utah on Thursday, Aug. 31. The Utes were the first ranked FBS foe that the Fighting Hawks have played since moving up to the Division I level 10 seasons ago.

After building an early 3-0 lead after capitalizing on an interception by Evan Holm, UND would remain within a score at halftime thanks to accurate kicking of senior Reid Taubenheim. The Farmville, Minn., native made all three of his first-half field goal attempts to keep the visitors within striking distance at 17-9 going into halftime.

The Utes would get the first 10 points of the second half and UND would only get as close as 11 points on its only touchdown of the game -- a 3-yard scoring strike from Keaton Studsrud to tight end Luke Fiedler.

Senior captain Jake Disterhaupt finished with a career-high 14 tackles in his first career start at inside linebacker. He was one of five Fighting Hawks to register a career-high in tackles: Charles Flowers (8), Holm (8), Jade Lawrence (7) and Carter Wilson (4).

• The Potato Bowl was created in 1965 by then UND Athletics Director Len Marti, head coach Marv Helling, assistant football coach Jerry Olson and sports information director Lee Bohnet.
• UND blanked Idaho State 41-0 in the first Potato Bowl game back in 1966 and owns a 40-11 all-time record in a game that will celebrate its 52nd anniversary on Saturday.
• The 41-0 blanking of the Bengals was the first of five shutouts that UND has registered during the Potato Bowl and the home team has outscored its opponents 1,638-775 in the 51 previous games.
• Last year’s 47-44 double-overtime victory over South Dakota marked the first overtime affair in a Potato Bowl. The Fighting Hawks erased a 20-point deficit in the final 18 minutes of the game to force the extra session.
• UND has won three-consecutive Potato Bowls and 20 of the last 23 games dating back to 1994.
• The honorary captain for today’s Potato Bowl USA game is Mark Dickson (1976-78).
• UND is now 5-5 in season openers after falling 37-16 at No. 25 Utah on Aug. 31. The loss to the Utes also dropped UND to 1-9 all-time against FBS foes.

TV: MidcoSN (Fox College Sports Central)
UND Radio: 96.1 FM (Grand Forks)
Live Video Stream: Pluto.TV (Ch. 240)
Live Audio Stream: and UND Sports Mobile
Live Stats:

UND returns to the road for its final non-conference game of the season at South Dakota on Saturday, Sept. 16. The Coyotes will be the second-straight Missouri Valley Football Conference opponent for UND, who will join that league in 2020. Kickoff against the Coyotes is set for 2 p.m. UND is 4-1 against USD at the Division I level and rallied for a 44-41 double-overtime win in last year’s Potato Bowl. USD won the last meeting between these two in Vermillion, taking a 27-17 decision in 2010.

Junior Reid Taubenheim led the Big Sky with 16 made field goals during the 2016 season and now has 48 makes for his career after a 3-for-3 start at Utah (Aug. 31). That total is the fifth most in program history and his 47 makes in the regular season are the fourth most in program history. His 48 makes are the most among active FCS players.

The fact that Utah rushed for 272 yards against North Dakota was surprising on many fronts. Even though it was an FBS offense, the Utes became just the fourth team since head coach Bubba Schweigert took over the program in 2014 to rush for 200-plus yards in a game. Utah’s 272 is the most rushing yards allowed during his tenure and most since Missouri State put up 235 ground yards in the 2014 meeting. The Bears visit Grand Forks on Saturday.

UND is usually the team putting up 200-plus ground yards in a game as Paul Rudolph’s offense has reached that plateau 17 times over the past three-plus seasons, including a trio of 400-plus rushing yardage outputs. The Utes’ defense limited UND’s vaunted rushing attack to just 55 yards in the opener -- it’s fewest yards rushing since putting up 67 in last year’s season opener at Stony Brook.

Eight players on the current UND roster played against Missouri State four seasons ago in Springfield, Mo. Senior fullback Kyle Norberg had just moved to running back and rushed five times for 24 yards in the 38-0 loss to the Bears. Classmate Jake Disterhaupt made four tackles from his reserve outside linebacker spot, while senior defensive ends Drew Greely (two tackles) and Brandon Dranka (three tackles) both made multiple tackles as well. Long snapper Jacob Holmen (11 punt snaps, 1 placekick snap), placekicker Reid Taubenheim (missed 29-yard FG), wide receiver Josh Seibel and cornerback Deion Harris also saw action against the Bears.

The shutout at the hands of the Bears is the only one in head coach Bubba Schweigert’s UND tenure (36 games). He was shutout twice as the Minnesota-Duluth head coach (once by UND and once by St. Cloud State in 2014).

The North Dakota football team will have two repeat captains in 2017 in seniors Cole Reyes and Keaton Studsrud. That duo will be flanked by clasmmate Jake Disterhaupt and junior running back John Santiago to form head coach Bubba Schweigert’s quaret of captains this season.

Besides appearing in the national polls, the North Dakota football team has also seen several of its players receive preseason accolades from various media outlets and organizations.

Senior safety Cole Reyes and junior running back John Santiago each found their names on multiple Preseason All-America teams. Reyes was named to the STATS FCS and Athlon Sports Preseason All-American First Team. He was also named the Big Sky Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and landed on the Preseason All-Big Sky Team.

Santiago was pegged to the same two Preseason All-America squads as a kick returner and was a unanimous selection on the Preseason All-Big Sky Team at running back. Reyes and Santiago were joined on the Preseason All-Big Sky Team by cornerback Deion Harris, running back Brady Oliveira and offensive guard Demon Taylor.

Defensive backs and Colorado natives Hayden Blubaugh and Ty Shannon both made their collegiate debuts in Salt Lake City against Utah. Blubaugh played as a reserve cornerback and kick returner, while Shannon played some safety late in the fourth quarter. Classmate Izzy Adeoti also made the trip, but the rookie wide receiver did not see any game action.

Ten more Fighting Hawks joined Blubaugh and Shannon in making their UND debuts against the Utes. Redshirt freshman Ryan Tobin, was the only one among that dozen to garner a start as he debuted at left guard. The remaining nine players to make UND debuts were outside linebacker Jaxson Turner, safety Tamas Stewart, running back James Johannesson, tight end Hunter Pinke, outside linebacker Ray Haas, outside linebacker Andre Steiger, inside linebacker Corby Richman, offensive lineman Nathan Nguon and tight end Logan Alm.

Four defenders joined Tobin in making their first career starts in Salt Lake City. Junior Austin Cieslak started at defensive end and picked up a TFL on the first play of the game. Jade Lawrence (outside) and Donnell Rodgers (inside) garnered starts at linebacker and Evan Holm started at cornerback.

Lawrence finished with a career-high seven tackles, including a team-best two for a loss. Rodgers added four tackles and a sack, while Holm had a career-high eight tackles and corralled the second interception of his career against the Utes.

-- UND --

2017 Football

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