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Wayne Nelson / Forum Communications Co., Published October 20 2012

UND QB, receiver have record days during victory over Montana

GRAND FORKS – The University of North Dakota’s electrifying, record-setting 40-34 win Saturday against Montana may or may not be the program’s signature win of the Division I football era.

That will be debated later.

What’s not for debate is UND’s most productive performance in the Division I era.

UND quarterback Braden Hanson threw for 660 yards – UND and Big Sky Conference single-game records. His top receiver, Greg Hardin, caught 12 passes for 333 yards, also UND and Big Sky single-game records.

And when Hardin hauled in a 32-yard scoring strike from Hanson with 12 seconds to play for the winning touchdown, UND broke a three-game losing streak and found renewed life in the Big Sky as the Green and White improved to 2-3 in the league and 4-4 overall before 9,296 fans at the Alerus Center.

Regardless, the win was one of the biggest in program history.

“Knowing the history and tradition of Montana, this is a huge win for us,” UND coach Chris Mussman said. “It’s a very special win. Our kids grasp it and I hope the community grasps it as well. You know what? We can be a pretty good football team if we play with focus. And we played with focus today.”

Montana coach Mick Delaney, with years of college coaching experience in his pocket, also saluted UND’s passing game, especially the play of Hanson – the North Carolina transfer.

“Their quarterback played as good a game today as any quarterback in college football,” Delaney said.

Hanson completed 42 of 61 passes, finishing with five touchdown strikes. His last one to Hardin was designed to pick up a few yards to move UND closer to field-goal range. Instead, it set off a wild celebration on the UND sideline. Hardin caught the ball in the middle of the field and slipped the grasp of a Montana defender and raced to the end zone.

“It was a five-yard in route,” Hardin said. “Really, we were looking to gain some yards and get better field position. Braden really put it on me. The guy slid off me; I saw an open field because they were blitzing and headed for the end zone.”

Hardin ran into the Big Sky record books with the catch. And it capped an amazing passing day for Hanson and his receivers – Hardin, Blair Townsend (13 catches, 152 yards), Jameer Jackson (8-124) and Kenny Golladay (7-39).

Hardin, a preseason first-team Big Sky selection, never thought he’d finish with 333 yards.

“That’s a number you can’t even put up in video games,” Hardin said.

In typical Big Sky fashion, the game resembled a roller-coaster ride.

Montana 7 10 17 0 – 34

North Dakota 17 14 0 9 – 40

First Quarter

NDAK – Townsend 5 pass from B.Hanson (Z.Miller kick), 12:29.

NDAK – Hardin 39 pass from B.Hanson (Z.Miller kick), 8:24.

Mont – Canada 21 run (Lider kick), 4:05.

NDAK – FG Z.Miller 33, 1:36.

Second Quarter

Mont – Carver 58 pass from Smithwick-Hann (Lider kick), 13:03.

NDAK – Hardin 43 pass from B.Hanson (Z.Miller kick), 11:46.

Mont – FG Lider 44, 8:59.

NDAK – Golladay 5 pass from B.Hanson (Z.Miller kick), 5:16.

Third Quarter

Mont – S.Gratton 15 pass from Smithwick-Hann (Lider kick), 9:44.

Mont – FG Lider 28, 6:16.

Mont – Henderson 27 pass from Smithwick-Hann (Lider kick), 6:05.

Fourth Quarter

NDAK – FG Z.Miller 34, 2:00.

NDAK – Hardin 32 pass from B.Hanson (run failed), :12.

A – 9,000.

Mont NDAK

First downs 27 29

Rushes-yards 37-163 24-44

Passing 358 660

Comp-Att-Int 32-49-0 42-61-3

Return Yards 50 0

Punts-Avg. 9-43.8 5-42.4

Fumbles-Lost 2-2 0-0

Penalties-Yards 3-42 8-54

Time of Possession 30:03 29:57

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: Montana, Canada 14-91, Nguyen 13-73, Smithwick-Hann 3-9,

McKinney 5-2, Henderson 1-(minus 2), Team 1-(minus 10). North Dakota,

J.Miller 12-46, Sutton 7-3, B.Hanson 5-(minus 5).

PASSING: Montana, Smithwick-Hann 26-39-0-306, McKinney 6-10-0-52.

North Dakota, B.Hanson 42-61-3-660.

RECEIVING: Montana, Henderson 8-112, S.Gratton 5-82, Hardy 5-34,

Saylor 5-30, Carver 3-85, Walcott 2-11, Nguyen 2-8, Warren 1-2,

Canada 1-(minus 6). North Dakota, Townsend 13-152, Hardin 12-333,

Jackson 8-124, Golladay 7-39, J.Miller 2-12.

Nelson writes for the Grand Forks Herald