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Senior Dominique Bennett has three sacks in his last two games and 12.5 for his career.
Game Notes: SAC visits for ND Strong game
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Updated: Sunday 10/15/2013 13:15:18 (ET)
by UNDsports.com
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UND Game Notes vs. SAC

Grand Forks, N.D. -
For the second straight week, the North Dakota football team will welcome a first-time guest to the Alerus Center as Sacramento State visits the building for a Big Sky showdown. The Hornets last visit to Grand Forks was 34 years ago when the Green and White registered a 31-0 victory over the visitors from California at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2:35 p.m. CT.

THE BLITZ
• Sacramento State was the inaugural Big Sky opponent for North Dakota in 2012 as the Green and White embarked on a new era. But, it was the second time the two teams met on the gridiron. UND won the initial contest 31-0 in 1979 at Memorial Stadium.
• UND also won last year’s contest 35-13 as senior running back Mitch Sutton rushed for a season-high 162 yards and three touchdowns in the victory.
• The 22-point margin of victory by the Green and White marked the highest-ever by a league team in its first Big Sky game dating back to the league’s inception in 1963.
• UND rushed for 294 yards in the win over Sacramento State, which is the most since moving to the Big Sky Conference.
 
LIVE FROM GRAND FORKS
TV: Midco Sports Network (Channel 27, 622 HD)
Video: Watch Big Sky (www.WatchBigSky.com - FREE webcast)
Radio: UND Radio Network (96.1 FM — Grand Forks) Pregame at 1:30 p.m.
Audio: UND Radio Network broadcast also available at www.UNDSports.com
Chat: Chat live at www.UNDSports.com
Stats: Live stats available at www.UNDSports.com
Twitter: For live scoring updates and game notes follow @UNDFootball

UND-SACRAMENTO STATE SERIES
UND leads 2-0-0
UND vs. SAC (Grand Forks): UND leads 1-0-0
UND at SAC (Sacramento): UND leads 1-0-0

THE COACHES
Chris Mussman, UND (6th season)
UND/Overall Record 30-30/same
vs. Sacramento State 1-0

Marshall Sperbeck, Sacramento State (7th season)
SAC/Overall Record 33-41/142-94   
vs. UND 0-1

NEXT OPPONENT: SACRAMENTO STATE
Sacramento State saw an opportunity to move to 3-0 in Big Sky play slip away on its home field last Saturday when Northern Arizona rallied from a 17-point, second-half deficit to edge the Hornets 39-38. SAC scored 28 third-quarter points to build a 38-21 lead, but NAU would score the final three touchdowns of the game.

Junior quarterback Zac Safron is the catalyst of the Hornets’ offense and ranks second in the Big Sky with 17 touchdown passes.  Eleven of those have gone to junior college transfer DeAndre Carter, who has been a nice additions to the SAC receiving corps. Safron also has 287 yards rushing, including a 50-yard touchdown run against the Lumberjacks last week. Safron threw for 220 yards and rushed for 110 more in the loss.

SAC’s offense is averaging 27.1 points per game despite being shutout by two FBS opponents to start the season. If you take those two blankings out of the equation, the Hornets are scoring 38 ppg in their last five contests.

Senior running back Ezekiel Graham has missed the last two games with an ankle injury. He rushed for 140 yards against UND last season and remains the Hornets’ top rusher with 322 yards through five games.

Linebacker Todd Davis is the Big Sky’s leading tackler with 74 stops, while defensive end Darnell Sankey ranks among the top sack men in the league with 4.5 on the campaign. The Hornets are yielding 31.7 ppg, which is the third-highest clip in the Big Sky.

NORTH DAKOTA STRONG
During the entire month of October, the North Dakota Athletics department has been running the North Dakota Strong campaign to help raise funds and awareness for breast cancer research. Today’s contest vs. Sacramento State is the designated football game for the campaign. All proceeds from the campaign will be donated to the Mayo Clinic for breast cancer research and will benefit the community of Grand Forks, including patients of Altru Health System, a proud member of the Mayo Clinic Health Network. North Dakota Strong t-shirts are available for purchase at officially licensed UND retailers. The price of the shirt is $20 and all proceeds go towards the overall donation.

HARDIN GOES PAST 3,000
A week after setting UND’s career regular-season receiving yardage record at Idaho state, senior Greg Hardin moved closer to the overall record and past the 3,000-yard plateau for his career. Hardin and the man he is chasing, Weston Dressler, are now the only two receivers in UND history to eclipse that mark after his six-catch, 50-yard performance against Eastern Washington.

Hardin’s career total sits at 3,022 receiving yards with five games to go, while Dressler holds the overall mark at 3,382. Hardin is also chasing Dressler’s career receptions mark that currently stands at 199. With those six catches against the Eagles, Hardin brought his career total to 180 in that category.

Hardin also added 104 all-purpose yards to maintain his lead in the Big Sky rankings with an average of 202 ypg. Hardin’s average is the third best in the FCS. The Bellevue, Neb., native has 602 kickoff return yards, 592 receiving yards and 15 rushing yards to bring his season total to 1,212. UND’s single-season record for all-purpose yards is 1,949 set by Ryan Chappel in 2007.

For his career, Hardin has 23 games with at least five catches and 12 100-yard receiving games. He owns six of the top 22 all-time receiving yardage games in UND history, including the top of that list when he caught a career-high 12 passes for a Big Sky record 333 yards vs. Montana in 2012.

Hardin also became the only player in UND history to return three kickoffs for touchdowns with his 99-yarder at Idaho State. That was the second longest return in school history and he also has the third longest - a 98-yarder vs. Southern Utah in 2012.

SOPHOMORES SHINE
Sophomore wideouts Kenny Golladay and Jameer Jackson both registered a new career-high in receptions in last Saturday’s Homecoming loss to Eastern Washignton (Oct. 12). Golladay caught nine passes for a career-high 125 yards, while Jackson added a game-high 10 catches for 110 yards.  Jackson also moved past the 1,000-yard mark for career receiving with his yardage output against the Eagles (1,033). For Golladay, the 100-yard receiving game was his third of the season. Jackson, who had two 100-yard receiving games as a freshman, collected his first of the campaign. Golladay ranks eighth in the Big Sky in both receptions per game (5.7) and receiving yards per game (80.2), while Jackson is fourth in receptions per game (6.4).

BENNET RACKING UP THE SACKS
Senior Dominique Bennett has collected three sacks in the past two  games and leads UND with four on the season. Bennett’s also the team’s active leader in that category with 12 and is only 1.5 sacks away from entering UND’s all-time list for regular season sacks. He had a team-high 4.5 during his junior season in 2012. Bennett is currently third on the team with 28 tackles, which include a team-high six tackles for loss. He had five tackles, two for a loss, a sack and a forced fumble in the Eastern Washington game.

MOLLBERG AMONG TOP ROOKIE QBS
Redshirt freshman Joe Mollberg threw for a career-high 355 yards vs. EWU, completing 33 of his 45 passes. That 73.3 completion percentage has him tops among freshman quarterbacks in the FCS in that category at a 64.7 clip for the season (21st overall). Mollberg’s 1,226 passing yards is also the third most in the FCS among freshman signal callers.

FOURTH DOWN: NO PROBLEM
Head coach Chris Mussman has opted to go for it on fourth down seven different times this season and his offense has made his decision look the right one each time. Through the first five games, UND had only gone for it three times, but in Saturday’s Homecoming game with Eastern Washington, the UND offense went 4-for-4 on fourth-down conversions. UND is one of only five teams in the FCS to remain perfect on fourth down conversions.

RED ZONE SUCCESS
North Dakota failed to score in the red zone for the first time this season at Idaho State (Oct. 5) when senior Zeb Miller missed a 28-yard field goal in the opening quarter. That is still the only failed opportunity for the offense as the unit is converting at a 94.7 success rate. That figure  ranks fourth among FCS teams. After going 2-for-2 on trips inside the red zone against Eastern Washington, UND is now 18-of-19 with 15 of those opportunities ending in touchdowns.

SHORT-YARDAGE SHAUGS
Junior running back Adam Shaugabay has carried the football only 14 times this season, but the Warroad, Minn., native has found the end zone on five of those attempts. Shaugabay’s five rushing touchdowns are tied for the team lead (Jake Miller) and tied for fifth in the Big Sky. For his career, Shaugabay has seven rushing touchdowns on 36 attempts.

GOODMAN ANCHORS D
Senior Garrison Goodman led the team in tackles with eight against Eastern Washington, marking the third time in his five games he has done that. Despite missing the Montana game, Goodman shares the team lead in tackles at 34 with fellow inside linebacker Ben Peters. Goodman equaled a career-high 12 vs. Montana State and had nine takedowns vs. South Dakota State.

MAGIC CARPET RIDE
• UND is 67-17 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 21-12 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 21 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.

DOME SWEET DOME
UND will play nine of its 11 games indoors during the 2013 season, including the first seven contests. Five of those will be at the Alerus Center and UND did not play an away game until edging Idaho State 28-25 on  Oct. 5. The Bengals play their home games inside as well at Holt Arena. The only two outdoor games on the schedule are an Oct. 26 matchup at Portland State and the regular-season finale at UC Davis on Nov. 16. UND has a road game at Northern Arizona, who also plays their home games indoors at the Walkup Skydome.

COLLECTIVE EFFORT
North Dakota is averaging a 29.3 points per game through six contests thanks most in part to 18 touchdowns by its offense. But, both the special teams and defense have also found the end zone on multiple occasions. 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 ECLIPSES 2,000-YARD MARK
Senior running back Jake Miller moved into the top 10 for career regular season rushing touchdowns at UND after scoring three in the season-opening win vs. Valparaiso. Miller has added two more rushing scores since then and is currently tied for fifth on the all-time charts with 23. Miller, who only had two rushing scores a season ago, also posted his sixth 100-yard rushing game against Valpo, carrying 17 times for 108 yards. Miller’s last rushing touchdown was a seven-yard scamper against Idaho State where he rushed 17 times for 61 yards and surpassed the 2,000-yard plateau for his career. Miller now has 2,012 rushing yards and needs 154 to reach UND’s top 10 in career regular-season rushing yardage.

HONORARY GAME CAPTAIN
Dale Neppel will serve as the honorary game captain for Saturday’s game against Sacramento State. Neppel was a three-year letterwinner from 1962-64 and received his 50-year Letterwinner pin earlier this year. Neppel was a team captain on the 1964 team that posted an 8-1 record under head coach Marv Helling and won the North Central Conference title thanks to a 48-0 shutout of Augustana in the regular-seaosn finale. Neppel played both ways at UND. He was both a linebacker on defense and a center on offense.

MOLLBERG GOES THE DISTANCE
For the first time this season against Idaho State (Oct. 5), one of UND’s two redshirt freshman quarterbacks went the distance, taking each snap from under center. After splitting reps for the most part in the opening four games, Joe Mollberg took all 63 snaps in the win over the Bengals. He completed 18-of-27 passes for 234 yards and is now completing 61.2 percent of his attempts this season. For classmate Ryan Bartels, it marked the first time he did not see the field as Mollberg started for the third straight game. With 871 passing yards, Mollberg ranks fifth among FCS freshmen this season in that category.

MINDFUL MEINDEL
Freshman Mitch Meindel has done an admirable job replacing three-year starter Brett Cameron at the punting position. Through six games, he is averaging 42.2 ypp, which would easily place him UND’s top 10 for single-season punting average. He has also landed 13 of his 20 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line and has a long of 62 yards this season. But, even more impressive than his punting prowess so far has been his ability to turn potential negative plays into positives for UND. Twice already this season Meindel has taken poor snaps and  rushed for first downs (vs. Valpo and at Idaho State). In fact, Meindel’s two carries have gone for 41 yards.

MILLER ON MITCHELL AWARD WATCH LIST
Senior Zeb Miller was one of 26 placekickers throughout all levels of college football to be honored for his performance both on and off the field during the month of September. Miller, who went 3-for-5 on field goals and 17-for-18 on PATs duirng the month, is a candidate for the Fred Mitchell Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top place-kicker based on performance on the field and in the community.  Miller has made 41 field goals during his career, which ranks fourth among active players in the FCS and fourth on UND’s all-time career charts.

RETURN GAME
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 five games. Hardin is averaging 27.5 yards per kickoff return, which is second in the league and 14th overall in the FCS. He is the only Big Sky player and one of two in the FCS with a pair of kickoff returns for touchdowns this season. Golladay is averaging a league-best 15.9 yards per punt return and had a 64-yard touchdown in the season opener. His 111 punt return yards are the most in the Big Sky as well. UND is the only team averaging more than double-figures on each punt return. The 64-yard return by Golladay is the longest in the Big Sky this season.

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.

GROUNDBREAKING FOR UND ATHLETICS HIGH PERFORMANCE CENTER
A groundbreaking ceremony for the UND Athletics High Performance Center was held  on Thursday, Sept. 5  at the outdoor practice field, south of Memorial Stadium. The facility will serve as an indoor training facility and be available for each of UND’s 19 athletic teams and includes a 100-yard artificial turf field, a 300-meter, eight-lane track, spectator seating, a state-of-the-art academic center, a sports medicine facility and a weight room.

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.

ADAMS MAKES UND DEBUT
Offensive lineman Dustin Adams made his UND debut against Montana in a reserve role on the offensive line. Adams, a Minot, N.D., native, transferred to UND from Northern Illinois after redshirting with a knee injury last season. 

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.
• Hardin’s 90-yard kickoff return was one of four scored in the FCS.
• Sophomore wideout Kenny Golladay’s 64-yard punt return was one of five scored in the FCS. It was Golladay’s first career punt return.
• 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).

NEW COORDINATORS
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.

PRESEASON PUB
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).

UNCHARTERED TERRITORY
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 202 passes through six games, which averages out to 33.6 pass attempts per game. At that rate, UND quarterbacks would attempt 370 passes in 2013.

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.

-- UND --

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