North Dakota beats Northwestern State 27-20

NATCHITOCHES, La. -- As far as University of North Dakota safety Kris Ankenbauer is concerned, UND no longer is a team in transition to Division I football.

NATCHITOCHES, La. -- As far as University of North Dakota safety Kris Ankenbauer is concerned, UND no longer is a team in transition to Division I football.

"We knew this would be a step up in competition when we went Division I, but we just want to prove that we belong," Ankenbauer said.

Whether the Sioux have arrived as an established Division I FCS program is yet to be determined, but UND took a major step forward Saturday night -- surviving the Louisiana heat and humidity to take a 27-20 win against Northwestern State before 10,258 fans at Turpin Stadium.

"We came down here with the idea of beating a team that had seven wins last year and a team that is an established FCS program," UND coach Chris Mussman said.

The Sioux accomplished that mission behind a defense that gave up a lot of yards but managed to make big play after big play.


UND's inexperienced offense did just enough and the Sioux special teams came through as well in a game that saw the Sioux record two safeties, a field goal, a long touchdown pass and a 47-yard scoring run from redshirt freshman running back Mitch Sutton out of the Wildcat formation.

UND, in its second season as a Division I FCS program, improved to 1-1 and the win helped validate its strong showing two weeks ago against Texas Tech. The Sioux played well in their 38-13 loss to the Big 12 Conference team in Lubbock and didn't want to come out flat against competition on their own level.

"We don't think of ourselves as a transition team," UND junior nose guard Ty Boyle said. "Now, we want to be competitive."

UND's defense set the tone early.

Northwestern, 0-3, drove to the Sioux 1-yard line on its first possession. The Demons, looking for momentum, went for it on fourth down from inside the Sioux 1. The Sioux, however, stuffed quarterback Tyler Wolfe at the line of scrimmage. Linebacker Andrew Miller was credited with the stop, but there were a lot of white shirts around Wolfe.

"We expect the defense to get us out of tough situations," Sioux defensive lineman Devin Benjamin said.

The Sioux gained even more momentum after Ankenbauer recovered a fumbled punt near midfield after UND couldn't pick up a first down on its first possession. That led to Brandon Hellevang's 50-yard field goal late in the first quarter.

UND went up 9-0 when Sutton ran 47 yards for a score out of the Wildcat formation, which the Sioux used considerably against Northwestern's pursuing defense.


The Sioux defense bent but didn't break for the rest of the half. Adrian Reese's 54-yard touchdown pass from Wolfe cut UND's lead to 9-6 but the Sioux took a 16-6 halftime lead when Sutton threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Dressler with 7 minutes, 19 seconds left in the second quarter.

The score was set up by UND's defense. Northwestern gambled on fourth-and-inches from its own 17. But Wolfe again was stopped short of the first down, this time by Boyle.

"Our plan is to bend but don't break," Boyle said.

The Sioux did bend, allowing Northwestern to rack up 434 yards of offense -- 311 through the air.

Northwestern scored three touchdowns but one was set up by Wesley Eckles' 51-yard pass interception that gave the Demons a first down at the Sioux 3.

Bradley Brown's 3-yard scoring pass from Wolfe cut UND's lead to 16-13 early in the third quarter. But the Sioux responded with Sutton blocking a Northwestern punt near the goal line. The ball rolled out of the end zone and UND had a safety and 18-13 lead.

UND went up 25-13 on Jake Landry's 55-yard scoring strike to Ismael Bamba, who broke a tackle at midfield and used his speed to reach the end zone.

But there were some anxious moments late.


William Griffin's 9-yard scoring pass from Wolfe cut UND's lead to 25-20 with 1:35 to go. UND's special teams came through late, however. Tyson Heiser recovered Northwestern's onside kick. And Hellevang's pooch kick on fourth down pinned the Demons at their own 2 with just over a minute to play.

The strange sequence of scoring continued when Northwestern snapped the ball of out the end zone for another safety.

The Demons had nine turnovers in their first two games but only two against the Sioux.

"I believe in what we're doing," Northwestern coach Bradley Dale Peveto said. "We're working hard and I'm proud of how hard are guys are playing. But we need to execute better in critical situations. If we do that, we'll start winning some football games."

For the Sioux, it's back to the South this week when they'll play another Southland Conference team -- Stephen F. Austin.

"We gained some confidence tonight," Mussman said. "And, at least we know that we're not going to come out of this stretch 0-3."

The Grand Forks Herald and The Dickinson Press are both owned by Forum Communications Co.

UND 9 7 9 2 -- 27


NSU 0 6 7 7 -- 20

First quarter

UND-Brandon Hellavang 50 field goal, 4:10.

UND-Mitch Sutton 47 run (kicked blocked), 1:27

Second quarter

NSU-Adrian Reese 54 pass from Tyler Wolfe (kick blocked), 11:31.

UND-Ryan Dressler 17 pass from Sutton (Hellavang kick), 7:19.

Third quarter


NSU-Bradley Brown 3 pass from Wolfe (John Shaughnessy kick), 12:04.

UND-Team safety, 3:58

UND-Ismael Bamba 55 pass from Jake Landry (Hellavang kick), :12.

Fourth quarter

NSU-William Griffin 9 pass from Wolfe (Shaughnessy kick), 1:35.

UND-Team safety, 1:04.


First downs 9 20


Rushes-yards 34-96 39-123

Passing yards 173 311

Comp.-Att.-Int. 13-21-1 26-39-0

Total yards 269 434

Fumbles-lost 0-0 4-2

Penalties-yards 10-78 10-78

Punts-Avg. 9-43.9 4-29.5


RUSHING: UND, Sutton 15-76, Catlin Solum 6-16, Jarrel Davis 4-12, Ethan Magstadt 3-5. NSU, Griffin 18-81, Quentin Castille 15-41, Phillip Harvey 2-20.

PASSING: UND, Landry 12-20-1 156, Sutton 1-1-0 17. NSU, Wolfe 25-38 307.

RECEIVING: UND, Bamba 6-98, Dressler 3-28, Noah Dombrovski 1-23, Sutton 1-12. NSU, Darius Duffy 9-77, Griffin 4-35, Brown 3-38, Justin Aldredge 3-29, Reese 2-84.

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