UND scores late TD to beat Bengals
POCATELLO, Idaho -- This is a script we haven't seen for a long time: North Dakota's defense repeatedly bailing out an inconsistent offense.
UND's defense, which struggled mightily in its last two games, rebounded in a big way as it came up with three interceptions, two sacks and a fumble that was recovered for a touchdown en route to a 28-25 victory over Idaho State on Saturday afternoon before 7,567 fans in Holt Arena.
UND improved to 1-1 in the Big Sky Conference and 2-3 overall. More important, North Dakota halted a three-game losing skid that included a pair of blowout losses against Montana and Montana State.
"There were a lot of times we did step up," UND linebacker Garrison Goodman said. "That's the defense we have to have every game. This year and last year, the offense has been holding its end of the bargain. Today, I think we held ours. Hopefully, we can start to complement each other more."
The key defensive play came with less than six minutes to play in the fourth quarter when linebacker Dayo Idowu batted away a pitch attempt by Idaho State quarterback Justin Arias. The loose ball was eventually recovered by linebacker Ben Peters in the end zone for a 28-17 lead.
"The defense, for the most part, was pretty good today," UND coach Chris Mussman said. "I was happy for our defensive players to have a game like this. We put it on the defense's shoulders in the second half and the kids rose to the occasion."
Chavon Mackey led the defensive effort in his first start at cornerback this season after making the move from safety. Mackey, who had been a cornerback the previous three years with the program, came up with two interceptions.
Linebacker Dom Bennett also had two sacks and a pass break up while making seven tackles, one behind team-leader Peters, who finished with eight.
The defensive effort might have been for naught had UND not capitalized on a crucial third-down play in the closing moments.
After Arias' touchdown pass to Luke Austin trimmed UND's lead to 28-25 with 2:07 to play, North Dakota faced a third-and-7 from its own 23.
The Bengals had one timeout remaining. After two Jake Miller runs up the middle were stuffed, UND opted to go to the air. Quarterback Joe Mollberg found Kenny Golladay for a 28-yard passing gain. The first down sealed the win.
"We had to make a play," Mussman said. "We had two plays called. We had either a draw or if they press us and play man, we need to stand up and throw. We had to seal the game. It was a great ball by Joe and a great run and catch by Kenny."
Golladay finished with three catches for 39 yards and three rushes for 10 yards.
"I just got to make a play when my number's called," Golladay said. "I peaked at the corner. The corner took a step outside during the cadence. So I knew if I made a move outside and then went inside, he'd be dead."
Greg Hardin paced the UND offense after not catching a pass last week for the first time in his career. Hardin had eight catches for 126 yards. He also had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown early in the third quarter.
The offense, though, stumbled through two Mollberg interceptions and a number of false start penalties. As a team, UND was flagged 14 times for 121 yards. ISU, meanwhile, had only three penalties for 20 yards.
But the Bengals had their share of self-inflicting problems. Arias threw three interceptions, despite throwing for 365 yards. The Bengals also had a number of bad snaps.
Idaho State dropped to 2-3 on the year, with the only wins coming against Division II opponents.
"It's a step forward in terms of the closeness, but it was a very winnable game and we hurt ourselves way more than they did," said Idaho State coach Mike Kramer.
UND 0 14 7 7 -- 28
ISU 0 7 3 15 -- 25
UND-Jake Miller 6 run (Zeb Miller kick), 12:29
ISU-Justin Arias 20 pass to Cameron Richmond (Brendon Garcia kick), 8:28
UND-Adam Shaugabay 3 run (Zeb Miller kick), 1:08
ISU-Garcia 51 FG, 11:11
UND-Greg Hardin 99 kick return (Zeb Miller kick), 10:57
ISU-Arias 20 pass to Chad Hansen (Garcia kick), 10:22
UND-Ben Peterson 5 fumble recovery (Zeb Miller kick), 5:53
ISU-Arias 3 pass to Luke Austin (Arias pass to Richmond), 2:07
TEAM STATISTICS UND ISU
First downs 17 27
Rushes-yards 36-140 21-6
Passing yards 234 365
Comp.-Att.-Int. 18-27-2 40-66-3
Total yards 374 371
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-1
Penalties-yards 14-121 3-20
Punts-Avg. 5-43.2 4-39.5
RUSHING: UND, Jake Miller 17-67, Mitch Meindel 1-24, Jer Garman 5-22, Joe Mollberg 6-18, Kenny Golladay 3-10, Adam Shaugabay 2-4. ISU, Xavier Finny 11-70, Aaron Prier 2-8, Justin Arias 7-(minus 62).
PASSING: UND, Mollberg 18-27-2, 234. ISU, Arias 40-66-3, 365.
RECEIVING: UND, Greg Hardin 8-126, Jameer Jackson 4-44, Golladay 3-39, Blair Townsend 1-13, Dwayne Pecosky 1-12, Miller 1-0. ISU, Luke Austin 11-98, Broc Malcom 11-69, Finney 6-59, Cameron Richmond 5-52, Josh Cook 4-47, Prier 1-20, Chad Hansen 2-20.