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Shaugabay making his case for top RB position

FNS Photo by Luke Franke University of North Dakota sophomore quarterback Joe Mollberg talks before the snap during the first scrimmage on Saturday at Memorial Coliseum in Grand Forks.

GRAND FORKS — A year ago, University of North Dakota running back Adam Shaugabay was the short-yardage specialist. In 45 rushing attempts, the Warroad, Minn., native had eight touchdowns.

In the team’s first live scrimmage of fall camp Saturday morning, Shaugabay made his case for a larger workload.

Shaugabay busted off a 59-yard touchdown run on third-and-19 and finished with 77 yards on 11 carries.

“Explosive play,” UND head coach Bubba Schweigert said. “He hit it hard. That’s what we want on offense. Defensively, we’re not happy about it. You can’t relax at any time.”

Shaugabay has emerged as the leading candidate for the starting running back spot at this point in fall camp. The team is looking to replace top back Jake Miller, who was a senior in 2013.

Junior college transfer Cedric Simmons, a highly touted offseason pickup, has sat out much of fall camp with a nagging leg injury. Another back in the mix, Jer Garman, suffered a minor injury early in the scrimmage and didn’t see much action.

“It was a stretch play, and I just read my blocks and got on my horse,” Shaugabay said. “As coach just said, it only takes one play to change the momentum of the game.”

Defense in charge

Shaugabay’s day was one of the few highlights for the offense as the UND defense controlled much of the scrimmage, led by strong showings from safety Cole Reyes and outside linebacker Brian Labat.

Reyes redshirted last season after a hand injury prevented the possibility of playing as a true freshman.

“It feels great to be able to play again, full speed,” said Reyes, who had one of the bigger hits of the scrimmage and also dropped what appeared to be a sure interception. “I’m happy to be back.”

Quarterback Joe Mollberg had the upper hand in the scrimmage in his starting battle with sophomore classmate Ryan Bartels.

Mollberg had two touchdowns passing and was 10-for-14 for 72 yards. He connected with fullback Dwayne Pecosky on a play-action pass on fourth-and-1, then later hit sliding tight end Kyle Ruhe in the back corner of the end zone for a 4-yard scoring strike.

UND’s kicking game struggled behind true freshman Reid Taubenheim, who missed on a pair of attempts.

Sophomore punter Mitch Meindel tried his hand at kicking and connected from 39 and 33 yards out.

“It’s the dog days of August now with two-a-days starting,” Shaugabay said. “It’s a long process, but it’s good to be back out here with the boys for one more go-around. We’re going to be ready to go in a couple of weeks.”

UND opens Aug. 28 at San Jose State.

Tom Miller

Miller has been with the Grand Forks Herald sports department for the past 13 years. He's also a Grand Forks native and UND graduate. 

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