Courtesy: Eric Classen,
Senior Chavon Mackey had two interceptions and four tackles in UND's 28-25 road win at Idaho State last Saturday.
Game Notes: EWU rolls into town for first time
Release: 10/08/2013
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North Dakota Football Game Notes

North Dakota welcomes No. 6/8 Eastern Washington to the Alerus Center for its 2013 Homecoming game on Saturday. The Eagles are making their first visit to Grand Forks in a series that began only last season. Kickoff is set for 2:35 p.m. CT.

• EWU won that initial meeting 55-17 on the red turf at Roos Field in Cheney.
• EWU head coach Beau Baldwin will lead his second team into the Alerus Center on Saturday. The Central Washington alum led his alma mater as the team’s head coach during a 2007 visit that UND won 35-28.
• The No. 6/8 Eagles will be the fourth straight ranked-opponent to play in the Alerus Center and second consecutive Big Sky co-champion. EWU was one of three league teams to finish 7-1 last season (Montana State and Cal Poly).
• EWU is the second team from the Evergreen State to draw a Homecoming assignment against UND. The Green and White defeated Western Washington 42-32 in a 2008 affair.
• UND’s all-time record in Homecoming games is 61-29-4 and the team is 7-5 in those contests played at the Alerus Center.
• The most points UND scored in a Homecoming game was 54 against Morningside in 2000. The 48-point triumph that day was also the largest margin of victory for UND on Homecoming.
• UND will look to snap a three-game Homecoming losing streak vs. the Eagles. The only other stretch where UND lost three straight Homecoming games was from 1968-70.

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No. 6/8 Eastern Washington is off to a 3-2 start and coming off a 41-19 victory over Weber State at home last Saturday in what was the Eagles’ Big Sky opener. Sophomore quarterback Vernon Adams accounted for five touchdowns in the victory over the Wildcats (4 passing, 1 rush) and 260 yards of total offense. Adams was recently added to the Walter Payton Award Watch List, which goes annually to the top player in the FCS. Adams earned national recognition in the opening weekend when the Eagles upset FBS-foe Oregon State, who was ranked in the top 25 entering the contest.

Head coach Beau Baldwin led the Eagles to the 2010 FCS National Championship and his squad reached last year’s semifinals where a wild fourth-quarter comeback fell just short in a 49-42 loss to Sam Houston State. In a rematch of that contest two weeks ago, the No. 4 Bearkats prevailed once again posting a 49-34 victory in the Lone Star State.

Baldwin has been impressive in six seasons at the helm of the team that plays its home games on red turf coined “The Inferno”. Baldwin owns a 47-21 record at EWU and went 10-3 in his one season as a head coach at Central Washington prior to taking over in Cheney. One of those three losses came at the Alerus Center when UND posted a 35-28 victory over Baldwin’s CWU squad in 2007.

The Eagles enter this contest leading the Big Sky in passing offense, averaging 332.6 yards per game. UND’s defense did limit the EWU’s air attack last season to a season-low 168 yards. Adams is the catalyst of the offense having already passed for 1,584 yards and 19 touchdowns. Receivers Ashton Clark (26 rec., 446 yards, 4 TDs) and Cooper Kupp (20 rec., 418 yards, 7 TDs) have been his primary targets. Kupp’s seven receiving touchdowns rank seventh in the FCS.

Defensively, the Eagles are yielding 415.8 yards per game and opponents are scoring 32.2 ppg.

There is no question senior Greg Hardin has put together one outstanding career resume in his three-plus seasons in Grand Forks catching passes and returning kickoffs. Hardin began the season within striking distance of a number of UND career records and reached one of those targest last Saturday at Idaho State when he caught eight passes for 126 yards to become the school’s all-time leader in regular-season receiving yardage with 2,978.

Hardin has six regular-season games to go to catch Weston Dressler for the overall record, which the Division II legend holds at 3,382. The current Saskatchewan Rough Rider standout added 463 yards to his career total during his Division II playoff appearances from 2004-07.

Hardin finished the game at Idaho State with 225 all-purpose yards and 99 of those came on what was his third career kickoff return for a touchdown. Hardin became the first player in UND history to do that. Tracy Martin is the only other player to have run two kickoffs back for touchdowns.

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 187 to reach UND’s top 10 in career regular-season rushing yardage.

The North Dakota defense entered the Idaho State 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.

Senior Dom Bennett also got in on the defensive act, registering two sacks for the first time in his career. Coupled with one from Peters, the defense matched its sack total of three from the first three games.

Sophomore wide receiver Kenny Golladay shares the team with 25 receptions (Greg Hardin) and his third and final catch at Idaho State may have been the biggest of his young career. On a third-and-long with just under two minutes to play and Idaho State out of timeouts, Golladay made a 28-yard reception to ice the game. Golladay had back-to-back 100-yard receiving games earlier in the season vs. South Dakota State and Montana and ranks ninth in the Big Sky with a 71.2 yards per game average.

North Dakota failed to score in the red zone for the first time this season at Idaho State when senior Zeb Miller missed a 28-yard field goal in the opening quarter, but the offense’s 94.1 success rate still ranks fourth among FCS teams. UND is now 16-of-17 with 14 of those opportunities ending in touchdowns.

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 will not play an away game until an Oct. 5 trip to Idaho State. 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.

North Dakota is averaging a 32.4 points per game through five contests thanks most in part to 17 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 in each of the last two games thanks to a 13-yard fumble return by Alex Hickel against Montana State and Ben Peters touchdown when he fell on a loose ball in the end zone at Idaho State. Hickel’s defensive score was the first for UND since the 2011 season (vs. South Dakota).

UND has opened Big Sky play by rushing more often than passing in both the Montana State and Idaho State games. This is a trend reversal from last season when the Green and White only did that twice in eight league games (at Sacramento State and at Eastern Washington). The 165 rushing yards on the ground vs. Montana State were the most since UND’s Big Sky opener at Sacramento State in 2012 when Mitch Sutton and company churned out 294 yards. UND had 140 rushing yards at Idaho State. Senior Jake Miller is averaging 80 yards per game in those two Big Sky contests and has scored a touchdown in each contest.

UND quarterbacks coach Danny Freund and Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp both spent time this summer working together at the prestigious Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La.  Manning and Kupp both worked as camp counselors at the passing camp run by the Manning Family. Kupp, whose grandfather was a teammate of Archie Manning with the New Orleans Saints, has seen 20 of his catches during his redshirt freshman season go for scores.

For the first time this season against Idaho State, 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.

Freshman Mitch Meindel has done an admirable job replacing three-year starter Brett Cameron at the punting position. Through five games, he is averaging 43.0 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.

• UND is 67-16 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 21-11 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.

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.

The father-son tandem of Jerry and Steve Olson will serve as the honorary game captains for the 2013 Homecoming game vs. Eastern Washington.  The elder Olson was the head coach of the Fighting Sioux from 1968-77 and led UND to four North Central Conference Championships. Olson’s 1972 squad won the Camilla Bowl and NCAA West College Football Championship with a 38-21 victory over Cal Poly. The 1975 team lost to Livingston in the Division II Regional Playoffs. Steve was a linebacker on his father’s last UND team in 1977.

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 29.4 yards per kickoff return, which is tops in the league and 13th 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 14.2 yards per punt return and had a 64-yard touchdown in the season opener. UND is the only team averaging for than double-figures on each punt return. The 64-yard return by Golladay is the longest in the Big Sky this season.

After sitting out the opener vs. Valparaiso, sophomore Jameer Jackson has shown no signs of rust in his first three games back. Jackson equaled his career-high with nine catches against Montana (86 yards) and caught six passes for 60 yards and also added a 2-yard rushing touchdown in the South Dakota State game. Against Montana State, Jackson rushed seven times for 43 yards, caught three passes for 24 yards and hauled in his first receiving touchdown of the season. After catching four passes for 44 yards, he moved his season totals to 22 catches for 214 yards and a touchdown. Jackson was a Jerry Rice Award finalist in 2012 after finishing with a pair of 100-yard receiving games and two multiple-touchdown games. 

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.

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.

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).

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.

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. 

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.

Three true freshmen made their collegiate debuts in the season-opening win over Valparaiso and four total have played in the first five games. Fullback Dustin Iverson played on a 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. It was the second longest run from scrimmage for UND during the game. 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 made his first collegiate start at Idaho State and finished with six tackles. Against Montana State, he had eight.

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).

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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