With All-American running back Otis Weah on the sideline, UND struggles to impress in 38-0 win over Drake

The Fighting Hawks committed five turnovers.

UND's Luke Skokna races down the sidelines for a 51 yard touchdown for the Fighting Hawks first touchdown against Drake in the Potato Bowl, Saturday, September 18, 2021. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

In the second quarter, UND safety Jordan Canady jumped a passing route and returned the play 76 yards, tripping up on his convoy of teammates at the 1-yard line.

The Fighting Hawks' ensuing drive started with a false start, followed by a short run, followed by a Quincy Vaughn fumble.

That's just the way it was Saturday in the annual Potato Bowl. Big plays but big letdowns filled the scoresheet as the No. 11 Fighting Hawks awkwardly arrived at a 38-0 trouncing of Drake at the Alerus Center.

"We'll take it," UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. "I thought defensively our guys were really good today. You've just got to play cleaner on offense. We didn't give ourselves a chance when you don't take care of the ball. It makes it hard and leaves a tough taste in your mouth or mind or whatever the heck it is. We have to clean it up for conference season, there's no question about that."

UND, which improved to 2-1 and won for the 12th-straight time in the Alerus Center, played without preseason All-American running back Otis Weah, who was on the sideline in street clothes.


"We made a decision that it was best for Otis and best for our team not to play him today," Schweigert said. "We'll get him back. We felt like, at this point, that's what we'll do. We had Isaiah (Smith) back and that played a factor."

Schweigert wasn't specific when asked when UND decided not to play Weah, who's 62 yards shy of 1,000 for his career.

"He practiced a little bit, but we wanted to keep him out," Schweigert said. "For the long-term and for the season, that's what we needed to do."

Despite playing without Weah, UND ran for 288 yards, led by Luke Skokna (eight carries, 123 yards) and Isaiah Smith (12 carries, 125 yards).

Smith, a redshirt freshman from Minneapolis, was playing in his first career game after being unavailable the first two weeks of the year.

UND dominated the Bulldogs of the Pioneer League in most statistical categories. UND had 24 first downs to Drake's six. UND outrushed Drake 288 to 77. Drake was 2-for-17 on third down. UND shut out an opponent for the first time since blanking Missouri State 34-0 in 2017.

But the Fighting Hawks turned the ball over five times, including two fumbles by backup quarterback Quincy Vaughn, who UND has used mostly in running situations. Vaughn was in street clothes on the sideline in the second half.

UND fumbled twice at the goal line, once by Vaughn and once by wide receiver Garett Maag with 12 seconds left in the first half.


"At the end of the day, our coach preaches ball security, and we just didn't get it done," Skokna said. "Way too many balls on the ground, and you know we want to be great and the enemy of great is good. So, yeah, we got the win but you know there's a lot to be fixed."

Skokna was one of UND's bright spots, starting the scoring with a 51-yard run to make it 7-0 midway through the first quarter. Then late in the quarter, Skokna's 48-yard run set up Tommy Schuster's 8-yard touchdown pass to Bo Belquist to make it 14-0 at the end of the quarter.

An Adam Stage 21-yard field goal and a Smith 4-yard touchdown run made it 24-0 at halftime.

Still, it was an unsatisfactory feeling at the break with Maag's fumble before breaking the goal line. Not that Drake could take advantage. The Bulldogs played without starting quarterback Ian Corwin.

Luke Bailey filled in for much of the game at quarterback, finishing 9-for-15 for 58 yards and two interceptions. Cross Robinson led the rushing attack with 11 carries for 39 yards.

UND's leading tackler was reserve linebacker Wyatt Pedigo, who made six stops. UND's defense collected three interceptions. Canady, Jayson Coley and Matt Koshiol each had picks for the Hawks.

"We had some good points and some lulls at some points," said Canady, who collected his eighth career interception. "You've got to execute throughout the full 60 minutes and just play better overall."


Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019 and 2022.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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