UND Defeats NAU, 37-22, in 57th Annual Potato Bowl USA Game
No. 17/15 North Dakota (2-0) defeated Northern Arizona (0-2), 37-22, in the 57th annual Potato Bowl USA Game on Saturday afternoon. The Fighting Hawks electrified the Alerus Center in the third quarter, scoring 17 points. After leading 13-3 at intermission, North Dakota came out firing on all cylinders in the third quarter and pushed its lead to 30-9 before heading into the final stanza.
Quincy Vaughn scored the first touchdown of the quarter midway through the period with a one-yard rush. Northern Arizona then trimmed the deficit to 20-9 before attempting a two-point conversion. The attempt was snuffed out by Elijah Beach, who ripped the ball out before Ted Mullin raced the rest of the way for a successful conversion attempt for UND. Less than three minutes later, Tommy Schuster found Wesley Eliodor for a 45-yard touchdown pass. The Hawks then put together a successful two-point conversion of their own, when Isaiah Smith dove over the pile to bring the score to 30-9. Schuster then scored with his legs on a one-yard scamper early in the fourth quarter and NAU put together two scoring drives in the final four minutes to bring the final tally to 37-22. Schuster was efficient in the game, going 21-for-30 for 259 yards passing and a touchdown.
Bo Belquist was his favorite target, hauling in eight receptions for 123 yards. Red Wilson was also a popular target with five grabs for 50 yards. Eliodor scored the lone receiving touchdown on a 45-yard catch and had three grabs for 56 yards. It was a backfield by committee for UND, with six different Hawks recording carries for 150 yards and four touchdowns.
Gaven Ziebarth was the top contributor with 12 rushes for 69 yards and a score. Defensively, the Fighting Hawks were paced by Wyatt Pedigo with eight tackles, a sack and 2.5 tackles-for-loss. Twenty-three UND players recorded a tackle in the win. In the game, North Dakota edged Northern Arizona in offensive yardage by a 448-445 margin. The Hawks racked up 298 yards through the air and 150 yards on the ground. Comparatively, the Lumberjacks put up 274 yards passing and 171 yards rushing. UND led 13-3 at intermission. The first score of the game came off a two-yard Ziebarth rush. That scoring drive ate up nearly seven minutes of clock. UND then attempted a two-point try that was unsuccessful. NAU made a 26-yard field goal in the early moments of the second quarter. On the next UND possession, Vaughn powered ahead for a one-yard rush to push the lead to 13-3 with 5:44 left before intermission.
Josh Navratil slammed the doors shut on NAU’s final drive before intermission, recording a strip-sack of Kai Millner that was recovered by Jake Saltonstall and returned 32 yards.
Trey Feeney then came in for the final play of the half and found Belquist on the Hail Mary for a 39-yard gain that made it all the way down to the NAU 9. North Dakota will visit Boise State at 11 a.m. (CT) on Saturday. The game will be televised on Fox Sports 1 and carried on the Home of Economy Radio Network.
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