HUNSVILLE, Texas (UND Athletics) -- North Dakota rallied in the final quarter to snap host Sam Houston State's 21-game home winning streak Saturday evening, 24-23, at Bowers Stadium. Noah Wanzek's 8-yard, fourth-down touchdown catch proved to be the difference with 4:44 remaining and the Fighting Hawks defense made it stand up.
Sam Houston State (1-1) doesn't lose at home often, in fact, the Bearkats held the FCS' longest home winning streak heading into Saturday's game. The fourth-ranked 'Kats are the highest-ranked team that North Dakota has beaten in its NCAA Division I history.
UND's recipe was old school North Dakota football-- run the ball, win the time of possession battle, force field goals instead of touchdowns and no huge plays. North Dakota's balanced attack offensively produced 189 yards in the air and 187 on the ground while the Hawks' defense allowed just four third-down conversions in 13 attempts.
North Dakota (2-1) took the opening kickoff 70 yards on 10 plays and chewed up 4:45 to take the early lead. The finishing touch was a 3-yard plunge into the endzone by senior Brady Oliveira, part of a combined 156 first-half rushing yards for the Fighting Hawks.
SHSU had an answer on the next drive, going 83 yards over 13 plays before a Kyran Jackson 1-yard run on fourth-and-goal. The UND defense looked poised to turn the Bearkats aside at the goalline during that drive as Jordan Canady made a stop right outside the plain then UND turned aside a handful of attempts deep before the Bearkats were finally able to get in for the score.
Austin Cieslak blocked a 49-yard field goal attempt to setup a 60-yard dirve for the Hawks in the second quarter. Brady Leach's boot from 26 was good and North Dakota reclaimed the advantage. After a quick three-and-out, UND again marched methodically down the field, rushing nine times and sprinkling in a pair of pass completions to take a 10-point lead. James Johannesson barreled his way down to the nine then bullied down to the one where Nate Ketteringham finished the job from a yard out for North Dakota's largest lead of the night.
SHSU was able to tack on a field goal before the half to make it 17-10 at the break. UND out-gained the Bearkats, 240-158 and controlled the time of possession battle, owning the ball for more than 18-and-a-half minutes.
In the third, the home team posted 13 points to jump out to a 23-17 advantage. Two of those scoring drives, though, could have easily been worse if not for big stops to force field goal attempts. With the score tied, 17-apiece, SHSU got a blocked field goal deep in UND territory, taking over at the 4-yardline but couldn't punch it in. The Bearkats settled for a 34-yard field goal then got another field goal after getting down to the UND 6 but failing to get in the endzone.
Those would prove costly for SHSU, who has qualified for the NCAA playoffs in each of the past seven seasons, including five appearances in the semifinals or later. With little over nine minutes remaining, UND set out on a 12-play, 84-yard game-winning drive.
Sophomore Izzy Adeoti had a huge 48-yard catch to flip the field position early in that possession. Ketteringham then found Wanzek on 4th-and-3 for a 4-yard gain. After Ketteringham rushed for eight yards to setup 1st-and-goal, SHSU was forced to burn a pair of timeouts on the third and fourth down plays. Wanzek sprung free in the corner of the endzone where Ketteringham fired a strike that Wanzek dove to snare while keeping his body inbounds. Brady Leach tacked on the extra-point and the upset was brewing at full boil.
The UND defense got a quick turnover on downs stopping a 4th-and-2 to just a one-yard gain and UND needed only to run out the clock. James Johannesson did the honors, rushing three times to get the first down and then Brady Oliveira had the final two carries before the victory formation signaled UND's biggest win since joining the FCS.
North Dakota had four players rush for over 40 yards with Santiago carrying 13 times for 58 yards. Oliveira added 53 yards and a score while Johanneson toted it nine times for 45 yards and a touchdown with Ketteringham pitching in 43 yards on seven carries.
Ketteringham completed 16-of-29 for 189 yards and the winning score, stretching his streak of attempts without an interception to 89 consecutive (three games).
Noah Larson led all UND tacklers with nine total tackles. Evan Holm registered four pass breakups, including several key ones in the final stages of the game.
North Dakota returns home to host Idaho State in the annual homecoming game and the 53rd Potato Bowl. Kick is set for 4:00 p.m.
*UND snaps the nation's longest home winning streak at 21 games, handing the Bearkats their first loss at home since Sept. 19, 2015 to Lamar.
*The Fighting Hawks also captured their first triumph against a ranked foe since Oct. 1, 2016 vs. Cal Poly and the first away from Grand Forks since Oct. 3, 2015 at Portland State.
*The No. 5 ranking is the highest-rated opponent that North Dakota has defeated in the DI era (2008-present).
*Izzy Adeoti finished the night with 82 yards receiving, a career high.
*Santiago recorded 158 all-purpose yards to push him over 6,000 for his distinguished career.