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Hawks come up short: No. 4 Weber State holds off No. 22 UND, 35-30

UND's Noah Wanzek catches a touchdown pass at the goal line in the first half as Weber State defenders Jawian Harrison Jr. and Jeremy Maxwell look on Saturday. Eric Hylden / Forum News Service1 / 6
UND defenders Hayden Blubaugh, Otis Weah and Tyron Vrede celebrate a stop Saturday. Eric Hylden / Forum News Service2 / 6
UND's Garett Maag is cheered on by teammates on the sidelines as he scores a touchdown in the first half Saturday. Weber State's Jawian Harrison Jr. Eric Hylden / Forum News Service3 / 6
Weber State defenders Keilan Benjamin (1) and Jordan Preator (24) tackle UND's Noah Wanzek Saturday at the Alerus Center. Eric Hylden / Forum News Service4 / 6
Weber State's Josh Davis is tackled by UND's Mason Bennett and Austin Cieslak Saturday. Eric Hylden / Forum News Service5 / 6
UND's Evan Holm sprints to the endzone as Weber State's kicker, Trey Tuttle, watches in the first half. Eric Hylden / Forum News Service6 / 6

GRAND FORKS — A run-stopping defense and a methodical offense.

It was the formula the University of North Dakota utilized to run off three consecutive easy victories over Northern Colorado, Montana and Sacramento State.

On Saturday, Oct. 27, Weber State gave the Fighting Hawks a dose of their own medicine.

No. 4 Weber State held No. 22 UND to 105 rushing yards and the nation’s worst third-down offense entering the game went 8-for-16 on third down to beat the Hawks 35-30 at the Alerus Center.

“I don’t feel any different about our football team than I did last night,” UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. “I love our team. We came up short against a really good football team.”

Weber State quarterback Jake Constantine, who was benched momentarily last week, was 27-for-41 passing for 318 yards and three touchdowns.

“Big time, right?” Weber State coach Jay Hill said. “He took care of the ball. He threw out of bounds when he had to.”

Twice Weber State, which holds its highest ranking in school history, led by two touchdowns. Each time, UND came charging back.

With 12 minutes, 28 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Weber State redshirt freshman running back Josh Davis (28 carries, 107 yards) scored on a 3-yard touchdown run to push the Wildcat lead to 35-23.

From there, the Wildcats were milking the clock as UND used all three timeouts. Weber set up for a 46-yard field goal with three minutes remaining.

UND’s Deion Harris blocked the attempt. Jaxson Turner snagged the loose ball and as he fell to the turf, pitched backward near a few UND defenders.

Donnell Rodgers picked up the loose ball and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown to cut the Weber lead to 35-30.

The Wildcats would recover the ensuing onside kick, but the Fighting Hawks’ defense came up with a three-and-out to get the ball back in need of a miracle.

Starting from their own 13 with 38 seconds left and no timeouts, the Hawks couldn’t muster a comeback.

UND quarterback Nate Ketteringham was sacked on second down by Adam Rodriguez.

With nine seconds left, Ketteringham ran for an 18-yard scramble but his bulldozing run into the sideline ticked off the final seconds 60 yards from the end zone.

“After a loss, we’re all pretty upset, but we know we have a lot of upside” said UND wide receiver Noah Wanzek, who had 111 receiving yards and a touchdown. “There are three games left to be in position we want to be. We have 24 hours to get rid of this.”

UND dropped to 5-3, while Weber State improved to 6-2.

The Hawks were led in rushing by James Johannesson, who led UND’s 480-yard rushing performance a week ago. The junior had 11 carries for 42 yards. UND’s longest run of the day was Ketteringham’s last-second scramble for 18 yards.

The UND offense was limited to 321 yards of total offense, buoyed by two special teams touchdowns, including a 99-yard return by Evan Holm, a momentum-stuffing score after Weber State built an early 14-0 lead.

“Every time we’ve been here, the game is the same,” Hill said. “It’s an absolute dogfight. I’m proud of our guys. We had a fast start, North Dakota roared back. We pulled away, they come back. I’m proud of our resiliency. That’s a dang good football team we just beat.”