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Wayne Nelson / Forum News Service, Published September 07 2013

Zenner, South Dakota State run past UND

GRAND FORKS – For the first time in a while, it was prime time at the Alerus Center on Saturday night.

The University of North Dakota had hoped for top billing, but there was no question as to the headline act. It was South Dakota State’s Zach Zenner, a player who was as good as advertised.

Zenner led a dominating South Dakota State rushing attack, one that was the difference in the Jackrabbits’ 35-28 win – a game UND had hoped would elevate the program to upper-echelon status in the Division I FCS.

Instead, No. 6 SDSU left with its lofty ranking intact and UND still searching for its marquee win in the Division I era. But the consolation prize for UND was that it dug itself out of a 35-14 fourth-quarter hole and pushed the Jacks until the closing seconds.

“The one thing we learned about our football team is that we’ll battle,” UND coach Chris Mussman said. “But we didn’t play well enough early on. We made too many mistakes against a really good football team. We made critical errors, and they didn’t. In my mind, that was the difference.

“But once we started playing the way we’re capable of playing, we got ourselves back in the game.”

By that time, though, Zenner had put the 2-0 Jacks in good position.

Zenner, who led the FCS in rushing last season, tied his career high with 295 yards on 37 attempts.

His 46-yard run on fourth-and-inches early in the fourth quarter gave SDSU a 35-14 lead. He ran untouched into the end zone.

“That play was wide open,” said Zenner. “I just hit it.”

From that point, however, UND found a swagger, one it hopes will help as the program now prepares for Big Sky Conference play.

Joe Mollberg took over at quarterback for Ryan Bartels and led UND’s comeback, completing 15 of 23 passes for 259 yards and two scores.

But Jimmie Forsythe picked off Mollberg on UND’s final possession, ending the comeback bid.

“It was a missed read,” Mollberg said. “We had momentum, and I was trying to make a play to Kenny (Golladay) and keep it rolling.”

The interception came with 1 minute, 31 seconds to play, and the Jacks ran out the clock to win in Grand Forks for the first time since 1989.

S. Dakota State 7 14 7 7 – 35

North Dakota 7 0 7 14 – 28

First Quarter

NDAK – Hardin 39 pass from Bartels (Z.Miller kick), 12:44.

SDSt – Schneider 37 pass from Sumner (Syrovatka kick), 2:48.

Second Quarter

SDSt – Zenner 4 run (Syrovatka kick), 12:22.

SDSt – Zenner 23 pass from Sumner (Syrovatka kick), :49.

Third Quarter

SDSt – Zenner 1 run (Syrovatka kick), 9:35.

NDAK – Golladay 17 pass from Mollberg (Z.Miller kick), :58.

Fourth Quarter

SDSt – Zenner 46 run (Syrovatka kick), 13:33.

NDAK – Hardin 16 pass from Mollberg (Z.Miller kick), 8:43.

NDAK – Jackson 2 run (Z.Miller kick), 5:31.

A – 10,038.

SDSt NDAK

First downs 21 19

Rushes-yards 49-298 17-21

Passing 157 437

Comp-Att-Int 10-21-0 28-45-2

Return Yards 38 20

Punts-Avg. 7-35.1 6-38.2

Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1

Penalties-Yards 4-24 10-107

Time of Possession 35:37 24:23

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: S. Dakota State, Zenner 37-295, Gandy 5-14, Sumner 5-1, Team 1-(minus 2), Hubert 1-(minus 10). North Dakota, J.Miller 8-31, Hardin 1-7, Jackson 1-2, Golladay 1-1, Bartels 3-(minus 6), Mollberg 3-(minus 14).

PASSING: S. Dakota State, Sumner 10-21-0-157. North Dakota, Mollberg 15-23-1-259, Bartels 13-22-1-178.

RECEIVING: S. Dakota State, Schneider 4-91, Tiefenthaler 3-24, Zenner 2-31, Andrews 1-11. North Dakota, Golladay 8-117, Hardin 7-207, Jackson 6-60, Townsend 4-48, J.Miller 3-5.


Nelson is the sports editor of the Grand Forks Herald