Fighting Hawks blank Missouri State in Potato Bowl

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (UND Athletics) -- In Bubba Schweigert's third game as head coach at North Dakota back in 2014, UND was on the receiving end of a 38-0 Missouri State victory. Schweigert and the Fighting Hawks exacted a decisive measure of revenge on Saturday afternoon, pounding the Bears 34-0 in the 52nd annual Potato Bowl USA game.

Eleventh-ranked UND (1-1) broke things open with a 21-point outburst in the second quarter when sophomore wide receiver Noah Wanzek hauled in a pair of touchdown catches and John Santiago added a rushing score. That turned a 3-0 game into a 24-point lead for the home team, sending the Fighting Hawks to their fourth straight Potato Bowl win and their first Potato Bowl shutout since 2004.

"I won't say we expected a shutout, but that's the goal every time we go out there," Schweigert said. "It was a good team win. We still have some things to clean up, but anytime you can run the ball the way we did and stop the run like we did, you're going to give yourself a chance for a positive result and that's we got today."

The shutout was also the first of the Schweigert's UND era and first overall for the program since the 2012 season opener, a 66-0 blanking of South Dakota Mines.

UND had chances early to break the game up open, but two trips inside the Bears' red zone in the opening quarter only yielded a 25-yard field goal by Senior Reid Taubenheim. The second quarter was a different story, however, as the home team scored touchdowns on its first three possessions to make it a 24-0 contest by halftime.

The Fighting Hawks racked up 526 yards of total offense, keyed by Wanzek's career-high 117 yards on seven catches. Keaton Studsrud was his typical efficient self, completing 22 of 31 passes for 273 yards and those two scoring strikes to Wanzek.

Junior Brady Oliveira paced the ground game with 16 carries for 164 yards, while Santiago and sophomore James Johannesson both added rushing scores in the victory. Johannesson's 19-yard rumble where he dragged several Bear defenders into the end zone with him, capped the scoring for the Fighting Hawks.

Defensively, UND blanked a Missouri State team that totaled 43 points last week at FBS-foe Missouri. The unit also forced three turnovers, including a key stop in the third quarter where the Bears had penetrated all the way down to the UND eight-yard line. Jason Randall picked up seven yards and was closing in on the goalline when he was stripped by Charles Flowers and the loose ball was recovered by linebacker Tanner Palmborg.

Flowers and classmate Cole Reyes shared the team-lead with seven tackles as the defense yielded only 211 total yards. UND dominated the time of possession (36:11 to 23:49) and ran 28 more offensive plays than the Bears in the contest (76 to 48).

UND returns to action next Saturday at South Dakota in a game scheduled for a 2 p.m. kickoff from Vermilliion.