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Wayne Nelson / Forum Communications Co., Published November 03 2012

Fumble key in UND's football win

GRAND FORKS – It hasn’t been a great season for the University of North Dakota defense, which ranks 12th in the 13-team Big Sky Conference.

So, there was reason for the defense to finally celebrate when it came up with one of its biggest stops of the season during UND’s

33-29 win against Southern Utah on Saturday at the Alerus Center.

With Southern Utah driving and UND holding a precarious four-point lead, UND linebackers Dominique Bennett and Cordero Finley put the finishing touches on the win in the game’s final minute before a season-low 7,144 fans.

The blitzing Bennett sacked SUU quarterback Brad Sorensen, causing him to fumble at the UND 34. Finley recovered. But the game wasn’t quite over as UND had to ride out a Hail Mary for the win – one that evened North Dakota’s record at 5-5 overall and 3-4 in the league.

“It was a great way for our defense to end, for as much as it’s been maligned internally and externally,” UND coach Chris Mussman said. “This was a big win for us.”

UND now has a chance to finish the season – its first in the Big Sky – with a .500 league record and a winning record overall.

“It’s been a roller-coaster ride this season but a win out there would be a nice end to the season,” Mussman said.

The game mirrored UND’s roller-coaster season. North Dakota dug itself a 15-0 hole in the first half before roaring back behind an electric 98-yard kickoff return from Greg Hardin and the possessed running of senior Mitch Sutton.

UND finally got the jump it needed when Hardin scored on the 98-yard return. The junior slipped a tackle near the UND

20-yard line, then went wide and turned on his speed in front of the UND sideline to out run the last few SUU defenders.

“That woke us up,” Mussman said. “That was the biggest thing; we finally had energy on the sideline.”

The third quarter belonged to UND, which scored on Braden Hanson’s 8-yard pass to Ethan Magstadt and again on Sutton’s 5-yard run. His scoring burst gave UND a 26-22 lead.

UND scored the game-winner on Jake Miller’s

36-yard burst off the left side with 10:01 to go.

S. Utah 3 19 0 7 – 29

North Dakota 0 13 13 7 – 33

First Quarter

SUt – FG Cook 35, 7:07.

Second Quarter

SUt – Moala 32 pass from Sorensen (kick failed), 11:17.

SUt – Wilson 5 run (run failed), 9:38.

NDAK – Hardin 98 kickoff return (Z.Miller kick), 9:20.

NDAK – Sutton 1 run (run failed), 2:03.

SUt – Crawford-Harris 4 run (Cook kick), :32.

Third Quarter

NDAK – Magstadt 8 pass from B.Hanson (kick blocked), 8:22.

NDAK – Sutton 5 run (Z.Miller kick), 2:43.

Fourth Quarter

SUt – H.Brown 15 pass from Sorensen (Cook kick), 11:30.

NDAK – J.Miller 36 run (Z.Miller kick), 10:01.

A – 7,144.

SUt NDAK

First downs 23 18

Rushes-yards 39-157 26-113

Passing 363 195

Comp-Att-Int 19-29-1 22-36-0

Return Yards 19 0

Punts-Avg. 4-41.8 6-47.3

Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-0

Penalties-Yards 8-84 7-41

Time of Possession 32:17 27:43

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: S. Utah, Wilson 31-156, Crawford-Harris 4-11, Ika 1-0,

Sorensen 3-(minus 10). North Dakota, Sutton 17-65, J.Miller 5-53,

B.Hanson 4-(minus 5).

PASSING: S. Utah, Sorensen 19-29-1-363. North Dakota,

B.Hanson 22-36-0-195.

RECEIVING: S. Utah, Moala 5-166, C..Morgan 4-38, Pedersen 3-89,

Wilson 3-32, McNabb 2-20, H.Brown 1-15, Crawford-Harris 1-3.

North Dakota, Hardin 6-48, Townsend 5-55, Jackson 5-45, Magstadt 3-17,

Golladay 2-27, J.Miller 1-3.

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Nelson is the Sports Editor for the Grand Forks Herald