Wayne Nelson / Forum News Service, Published November 09 2013
Late turnover propels UND to win over Northern ColoradoGRAND FORKS – For three-plus quarters, the University of North Dakota appeared to be headed for another home loss – one that could have turned out to be one of the more demoralizing setbacks in program history.
Instead, a dose of good fortune – rarely seen in this UND football season – struck at the right time.
UND capitalized on a late Northern Colorado turnover and scored the winning touchdown on Ryan Bartels’ 11-yard pass to Greg Hardin in the closing minutes as North Dakota downed the Bears 24-21 on Saturday before 5,984 fans – likely the smallest crowd to watch UND football in the 13-year history of the Alerus Center.
“It feels really good,” UND coach Chris Mussman said. “I’m really happy for the kids. That’s what it’s all about; singing the school song in the locker room.”
UND improved to 2-5 in the Big Sky Conference and 3-7 overall while the Bears dropped to 0-6 and 1-9. UND has struggled mightily at home this season, beating only non-scholarship Valparaiso.
A loss to the Bears, whose only win came against an NAIA program in August, could have sunk the season to a new low. Instead, UND had a chance to celebrate and also gave its 17 seniors a pleasant memory as they left the Alerus for the last time.
“Looking into the eyes of our seniors was awesome,” said Bartels, who threw for 344 yards and two touchdowns.
UND trailed 21-6 midway through the third quarter but managed to pull itself back into contention on a 26-yard Zeb Miller field goal and Bartels’ 31-yard scoring strike to Kenny Golladay.
UND, however, couldn’t sustain much offense in the fourth quarter. Its first possession went three-and-out and its second resulted in an interception, as Kyle Griffin picked off Bartels at the UNC 22.
Finally, however, UND got a break.
Tromaine Dennis, UNC’s bruising running back, fumbled at the Bears’ 31. Dominique Bennett forced the fumble on a straight-ahead run and Seth Stanchik pounced on it.
“He was trying to cut back and I was shadowing him,” said Bennett. “I hit him and the ball bounced out”
Five plays later, Bartels hit Hardin for the 11-yard TD. Bartels then found Golladay in the back of the end zone for the 2-point conversion and the small crowd finally got the chance to see UND catch a break on its home turf.
N. Colorado 7 0 14 0 – 21
North Dakota 0 6 10 8 – 24
NoCo – Lobato 1 run (Falloon kick), 5:09.
NDAK – Shaugabay 1 run (run failed), 13:34.
NoCo – Jefferson 23 pass from Lobato (Falloon kick), 12:29.
NoCo – Jefferson 35 pass from Lobato (Falloon kick), 10:11.
NDAK – FG Z.Miller 26, 7:04.
NDAK – Golladay 31 pass from Bartels (Z.Miller kick), 2:02.
NDAK – Hardin 11 pass from Bartels (Golladay pass from Bartels), 2:51.
A – 5,984.
First downs 17 22
Rushes-yards 29-105 23-4
Passing 289 344
Comp-Att-Int 18-33-1 31-47-2
Return Yards 29 11
Punts-Avg. 5-43.2 5-35.4
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-0
Penalties-Yards 6-75 4-26
Time of Possession 25:44 34:18
RUSHING: N. Colorado, Dennis 22-96, Lobato 6-9, Hildreth 1-0.
North Dakota, Shaugabay 9-11, Garman 5-8, Jackson 2-3, Sparks 1-0,
Team 3-(minus 6), Bartels 3-(minus 12).
PASSING: N. Colorado, Lobato 18-33-1-289. North Dakota,
RECEIVING: N. Colorado, Jefferson 8-171, Dennis 4-58, Wilbers 3-27,
Zamora 2-19, Leslie 1-14. North Dakota, Jackson 11-89, Hardin 7-95,
Golladay 6-95, Townsend 4-48, Shaugabay 2-15, Pecosky 1-2.
Wayne Nelson is the sports editor of the Grand Forks Herald