Special teams, turnovers key in UND win over Robert Morris

GRAND FORKS -- As a fifth-year senior, University of North Dakota wide receiver R.J. McGill has been around long enough to place Saturday's Potato Bowl matchup with Robert Morris in perspective.

GRAND FORKS - As a fifth-year senior, University of North Dakota wide receiver R.J. McGill has been around long enough to place Saturday’s Potato Bowl matchup with Robert Morris in perspective.

“We won,” he said. “It wasn’t the best win or the best way to win, but we won.”

Spot on.

UND used strong special teams and timely turnovers to overcome a lackluster offense in a 16-13 victory over the Colonials of the Northeast Conference in front of 9,118 fans at the Alerus Center.

UND (1-1 overall) has now won 28 straight home openers.


UND recovered three fumbles and blocked two kicks to offset being outgained 363-268 in total offense.

“Offensively, we have to get better,” said Bubba Schweigert, who picked up his first win as UND’s head coach in his first season. “We did things that hurt ourselves and had nothing to do with our opponent. We have to keep striving to get better. We have to eliminate mistakes. We had trouble with snaps. We had trouble with penalties. That’s the hurdle: We’re shooting ourselves in the foot.”

UND true freshman kicker Reid Taubenheim, who hit the first four field goals of his career before missing one in the fourth quarter Saturday, connected on field goals of 20, 45 and 35 yards.

UND’s defense was a bit of the bend-but-don’t-break variety. Robert Morris running back Rameses Owens ran for 199 yards on 39 carries for a team that finished Week 1’s loss to Eastern Kentucky with 28 total rushing yards.

UND lost the time of possession battle by more than nine minutes.

“Their running back ran hard,” UND senior cornerback Alex Tillman said. “Give him credit, but I thought we played pretty tough.”

UND trailed twice in the game, once in the first quarter and once in the third quarter. RMU opened the game in spread-out, hurry-up offense that was highlighted by a Duane Mitchell 6-yard touchdown catch from Luke Brumbaugh for a 6-0 edge.

Brumbaugh, who threw it 51 times last week, wasn’t quite so pass happy against UND. He was 13-for-24 passing for 149 yards and a touchdown.


After falling behind 13-9 early in the third quarter (Owens 2-yard touchdown run), UND retook the lead for good on a McGill 32-yard touchdown catch from Joe Mollberg to make it 16-13 with 7:22 left in the third quarter.

UND could never put the game out of reach, however. After failing to run out the clock on its last drive, UND punted the ball back to RMU with a little more than two minutes to go.

RMU, which had no timeouts remaining, failed to gain any yards on four plays - a series that ended with a bad quarterback snap on fourth down that was recovered by UND true freshman defensive lineman Brandon Dranka.

UND kneeled out the remainder of the clock.

“Our defense and special teams played well,” said McGill, who finished with three catches for 65 yards. “Offensively, we need to find our rhythm. (The problem is) the little 5-yard penalties. That takes away all of our rhythm.”

UND was penalized eight times for 70 yards, while RMU was flagged six times for 48 yards.

UND’s offense gained 113 yards on the ground, led by Cedric Simmons, who finished with 13 carries for 42 yards.

Mollberg, who was plagued by a handful of poor throws as well as a few drops from his targets, was 8 for 21 passing for 155 yards, one touchdown. He also ran the ball eight times for 21 yards.


UND was just 3 for 15 on third down compared to RMU’s 8-for-18 showing on third down.

RMU            6       0       7       0       -    13

UND            0       9       7       0       -    16

First quarter

RMU–Duane Mitchell 6 pass from Luke Brumbaugh, 1:52.

Second quarter

UND–Reid Taubenheim 20 FG, 9:40.

UND–Taubenheim 45 FG, 6:18.

UND–Taubenheim 35 FG, :24.

Third quarter

RMU–Rameses Owens 2 run (Hunter Khaleghi kick), 9:28.

UND–R.J. McGill 32 pass from Joe Mollberg (Taubenheim kick), 7:22.

Fourth quarter

No scoring

TEAM STATISTICS       RMU            UND

First downs                      19                 10

Rushes-yards                  56-214          34-113

Passing yards                  149               155

Comp.-Att.-Int.                 13-24-0        8-22-0

Total yards                       363               268  

Fumbles-lost                    3-3                1-1

Penalties-yards                6-48              8-70

Punts-Avg.                       7-33.4           8-41.3


RUSHING: RMU, Rameses Owens 39-199, Ryan Thermil 10-19, Duane Mitchell 1-10, Jordan Blackmon 1-0, Jamison Williams 1-(minus 1), TEAM 2-(minus 3), Luke Brumbaugh 1-(minus 10). UND, Cedric Simmons 13-42, Adam Shaugabay 2-38, Joe Mollberg 8-21, Jer Garman 7-9, R.J. McGill 1-5, Dwayne Pecosky 1-1, TEAM 2-(minus 3).

PASSING: RMU, Brumbaugh 13-24-0 149. UND, Mollberg 8-21-0 155; Tyrhe Ivery 0-1-0 0.

RECEIVING: RMU, Mitchell 6-61, Williams 2-43, Owens 1-38, Blackmon 1-4, Chaq Nettles 2-2, Justin Kempka 1-1. UND, McGill 3-65, Brandon Walker 1-40, Kyle Ruhe 1-30, Pecosky 2-13, Garman 1-7.

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