Ground game dominates in blowout win at Northern Colorado

GREELEY, Colo. (UND Athletics) -- Visiting North Dakota used a methodical offense and a stifling defense to dominate Northern Colorado, 38-13, Saturday afternoon at Nottingham Field. UND, playing without star John Santiago, got big contributions from Brady Oliveira (123 yards rushing, 2TD) and James Johannesson (career-high 141 yards rushing) to record its second straight road win.

Santiago sustained an injury in last week's game against Idaho State and was a gametime decision Saturday. He ultimately did not play and gave way to Oliveira and Johannesson to do the damage. The duo combined for 264 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns as the Fighting Hawks out-gained the Bears, 474-201.

North Dakota (3-2) took the opening kickoff and drove the field methodically, piling up five first downs and covering 15 plays to go 71 yards. Brady Leach capped it off with a career-long field goal of 37 yards and UND had a 3-0 lead after that 8:18 drive.

Near the end of the quarter, UND was forced to punt but Jaxson Turner jumped on a fumbled punt return deep in UNC territory to set up a great scoring chance. Nate Ketteringham took the third down play himself up the middle, barreling through to make it 10-0.

UNC got its first good fortune on the ensuing possession as a defensive pass interference call wiped out a Hayden Blubaugh interception and long return to give the Bears a first down at midfield. The home team would turn it into points as Trey Riek 1-yard plunge put the Bears on the board, 10-7, with 10:13 to go in the half.

North Dakota continued to chew up game clock, going 85 yards in three-and-a-half minutes. Brady Oliveira scampered 15 yards to finish the drive and UND gained a 17-7 advantage. After the UND defense forced another punt, the Fighting Hawks pieced together a 12-play drive that spanned 68 yards and ended with another Ketteringham rushing touchdown for a commanding 24-7 lead at the break.

The halftime numbers were gaudy as the North Dakota defense didn't allow a pass completion until the final minute of the half as Keaton Mott went 2-for-11 for just 17 yards passing the entire half. Meanwhile, Ketteringham was 8-for-12 with 111 yards passing and two rushing touchdowns in a half that saw UND own the ball for 21:15.
UND just kept it conservative in the second half, throwing just four times in the final 30 minutes and allowing the chains to be moved along the ground.

Ketteringham finished 9-for-16 passing for 123 yards and two rushing touchdowns.

North Dakota has a bye week before hosting Montana Oct. 13 at the Alerus Center.

*North Dakota has won six straight in the series with Northern Colorado.
*Mason Bennett went into the game tied atop the FCS leaders in sacks and added one more to his total today.
*UND's marching band, the Pride of the North, made the trip to Greeley.