GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Fresh off its best offensive output since the 2013 season opener, the North Dakota football team returns to action Saturday at No. 24 Montana in a Big Sky matchup on ROOT Sports. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. CT. The Grizzlies returned to the STATS FCS poll after a second-consecutive Big Sky road win, while the Fighting Hawks brought an end to a three-game slide.
• The Fighting Hawks snapped that three-game skid with an offensive outburst last Saturday that resulted in a 48-38 Homecoming victory over Northern Colorado.
• Those 48 points were the most score in Bubba Schweigert’s 41 games as UND’s head coach and most since a 69-10 victory over Valparaiso in 2013 (Aug. 29). It was the seventh time during Schweigert’s tenure that UND exceeded the 40-point plateau.
• The offense also piled up season-highs in total offense (562) and rushing yards (314). The 562 total yards has only been topped once during the Schweigert era (625 at Sacramento State; 2016) and the rushing yards is the fourth-best total.• Montana owns a 14-8-1 advantage in the all-time series with UND and has won four of the five meetings at the Division I level.The teams played to a 10-10 tie in their first meeting back in 1915.
• This will be UND’s third trip to Washington-Grizzly Stadium and the Fighting Hawks are still in search of their first win in the venue that was built in 1986. The teams did not play between 1974-2009.
• Montana won the last matchup 42-16, which was also played on the Grizzlies’ home turf. UND scored a touchdown on its opening play from scrimmage and led 10-7 midway through the second quarter, but the Griz would reel off five-straight touchdowns over the next 20 minutes to put the game away.
• Senior quarterback Keaton Studsrud missed that contest in 2015 with a shoulder injury. He returned the following the week and led UND to three-straight victories to close out the season. He has started 30 of UND’s last 33 games.
• The Griz will be the third ranked opponent UND has faced in 2017 after opening at No. 25 Utah (37-16; L) and falling at No. 17 South Dakota (45-7), who has now moved all the way up to No. 4 in both the STATS FCS and FCS Coaches’ poll.
LAST TIME OUT: UND 48, NORTHERN COLORADO 38
The Fighting Hawks snapped a three-game losing streak after registering a 48-38 win over Northern Colorado last Saturday at the Alerus Center. Senior Keaton Studsrud threw for 248 yards and added 97 on the ground, while sophomore Travis Toivonen added two ground scores on reverses from his wide out position. UND built an early 28-7 advantage only to see the Bears rip off 24-straight points to briefly reclaim the lead. The Fighting Hawks break a 38-38 tie by outscoring UNC 10-0 in the fourth quarter.
WHERE TO WATCH/LISTEN/TRACK
TV: ROOT Sports
UND Radio: 96.1 FM (Grand Forks)
Live Video Stream: N/A
Live Audio Stream: www.UNDSports.com and UND Sports Mobile
Live Stats: www.GoGriz.com
UND will return to the Alerus Center next Saturday for a contest against Sacramento State. Kickoff against the Hornets is at 12:30 p.m. CT and fans are encouraged to wear green for the annual “Green Out” game.
• With the 48-38 win over the Bears (Oct. 7), UND now owns a 64-31-4 all-time record in Homecoming contests.
• The 48 points were the most scored in a Homecoming game by UND at the Division I level and in the Alerus Center. The output was also the most in a Homecoming Game since a 54-6 victory over Augustana in the last one played at Memorial Stadium in 2000.
• The victory over the Bears improved UND’s record to 10-7 in Homecoming contests since moving into the Alerus Center in 2001.
With 12,342 on hand to watch the Montana State game (Sept. 23), the Fighting Hawks drew crowds of 12,000-plus in back-to-back games for the first time since the Alerus Center opened in 2001. That attendance figure also marked the first sellout since the 2009 season opener against South Dakota (12,431). Back in the inaugural season of UND’s indoor stadium, the NDSU game drew a single-game attendance record of 13,500 (Oct. 6) that still stands and two weeks later, 12,580 watched the UND-Omaha game (Oct. 20).
GROUND GAME FINDS AN OLD GEAR
After being held to 204 combined rushing yards in losses at South Dakota and to Montana State in the Big Sky opener, UND’s ground game has churned out a total of 608 yards in the past two games.
The junior tandem of John Santiago and Brady Oliveira has accounted for 456 of those. Oliveira has ecliped the 100-yard mark in both contests, while Santiago managed 70 yards and a touchdown against the Bears after rushing for a season-high 170 in the loss at UC Davis (Sept. 30).
The All-Big Sky duo has rushed for 100 yards in the same game twice now during their careers after achieving that feat against the Aggies (first was vs. Montana State; 2015). Santiago now has 14 career 100-yard games and Oliveira has eight.
Santiago’s 81-yard touchdown run against UC Davis (Sept. 30) matched his career long set against Northern Colorado during his freshman season.
CLOYD, PINKE ADD SCORING PUNCH
A week after fellow tight end Hunter Pinke found the end zone for the first time on a 36-yard reception, sophomore Alex Cloyd had a scoring grab in the 48-38 win over Northern Colorado. Cloyd’s grab came from 21 yards out and he added a 37-yard catch later in the game to finish with a career-best 58 receiving yards.
Pinke’s scoring grab came on his first career catch and he added a 14-yard reception against the Bears. Cloyd and Pinke have seen their playing time increase with junior Luke Fielder sitting out the previous two games.
JUCO-transfer Tamas Stewart made his first career start against UC Davis (Sept. 30), filling in for injured All-American Cole Reyes. He played a majority of the Montana State game (Sept. 23) as well for Reyes and registered 10 tackles in back-to-back games. He played at UC Davis in front of several family and friends as the Rialto native was back in his native California for the tilt. Stewart was one of four Fighting Hawks to net double-figure tackles in the contest. Redshirt freshman Jake Rastas led the way with a career-high 13 tackles, while senior captain Jake Disterhaupt and true freshman Hayden Blubaugh also had 10 tackles a piece.
Disterhaupt leads the team with 51 tackles, but was out of action in the Homecoming win over Northern Colorado (Oct. 7). Classmate Oscar Nevermann made his first career start in place of Disterhaupt and helped UND limit the Bears to a season-low 18 yards on 22 carries. Blubaugh, a true freshman, also made his first career start against UNC and finished with six tackles.
This week’s injury report features 11 names that have started multiple games in their careers or were counted on to be in the 2017 two-deep entering the campaign. All-American Deion Harris was lost for the season before it started and fellow All-American and reigning Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year Cole Reyes has missed the last two games and will be out against at Montana (Oct. 14). Sophomore linebacker Donnell Rodgers (Missouri State; Sept. 23), senior wide receiver Josh Seibel (fall camp) and junior wide receiver Luke Stanley (preseason) are all out indefinitely. and six more are considered questionable for this Saturday’s game against Montana.
Five of them all have at least one start under their belts in 2017 (tight end Luke Fielder; 4), inside linebacker Jake Disterhaupt; 5, fullback Kyle Norberg; 1 and offensive lineman A.J. Stockwell; 3). Senior offensive lineman Mat Cox retured to action against the Aggies (Sept. 30), while redshirt freshman linebacker Cam Hunt was taken off the injury report and made his UND debut against the Bears (Oct. 7).
Redshirt freshman Cam Hunt provided a boost to the inside linebacker position that has been ravaged by injuries. After missing the first five games with an injury of his own, the Carmel, Ind., native picked off a pass on just his third collegiate snap and added a tackle for loss later in the contest. UND turned Hunt’s pick into a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage to push its lead to 21-7. Hunt was named UND’s 2016 Defensive Scout of the Year during his redshirt season.
Senior Chuck Flowers is one of five UND defenders to start every game this season and in his first year as a start, the Chino Hills, Calif., native ranks second on the team in tackles with 42 and closed out the Northern Colorado game with an interception in the end zone. A blitz by Flowers also forced the errant throw that resulted in Cam Hunt’s second-quarter interception.
STUCK IN NEUTRAL NO LONGER
UND’s offense had managed only six first-quarter points through its first four games, but junior John Santiago quickly matched that total on the Fighting Hawks’ second play from scrimmage at UC Davis when he raced 81 yards for a touchdown to equal his best career run (vs. UNC; 2015). The Fighting Hawks finished with 10 points in that quarter and added 14 against Northern Colorado.
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