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UND FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Defensive scores spark Potato Bowl victory

Senior Luke Mathewson (45) leads the team in a prayer after beating University of South Daktoa at Saturday's Potato Bowl at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)1 / 11
Sophomore running back John Santiago attempts to push through USD's Tyson Graham (8) and Jacob Warner in the first half of Saturday's Potato Bowl at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)2 / 11
Nick Schmitz (90) celebrates with the fans after a win over University of South Daktoa at Saturday's Potato Bowl at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)3 / 11
Deion Harris (19) spreads his arms out after scoring a University of North Daktoa’s touchdown from an interception in the second half of Saturday's Potato Bowl against University of South Daktoa at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks N.D. (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)4 / 11
Donnell Rodgers (44) screams in joy after a win over University of South Daktoa in Saturday's Potato Bowl at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)5 / 11
UND fans make noise during a USD third down in the first half of Saturday's Potato Bowl at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D . (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)6 / 11
Junior Cole Reyes (8) runs unopposed after an interception for a University of North Daktoa touchdown in the first half of Saturday's Potato Bowl against the University of South Daktoa at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)7 / 11
UND fan Loyall Jahnke waves a new Fighting Hawks flag at the end zone during Saturday's Potato Bowl against the University of South Daktoa at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)8 / 11
Quarterback Keaton Studsrud looks down field for an open receiver in the second half of Saturday's Potato Bowl against the University of South Daktoa at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)9 / 11
Wide receiver Luke Stanley celebrates his long catch for a Fighting Hawks first down in the second half of Saturday's Potato Bowl against University of South Daktoa at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald10 / 11
University of North Daktoa’s Alec Carrothers attempts to sack University of South Daktoa’s quarterback Chris Streveler in the second half of Saturday's Potato Bowl at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks . Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald11 / 11

The UND football program's performance through the first three weeks of the 2016 season has seen its ups and downs, but one aspect of the Fighting Hawks' year has remained consistent.

UND consistently has added scoring from its defense.

The Fighting Hawks scored on defense for the third straight week as both safety Cole Reyes and cornerback Deion Harris returned interceptions for touchdowns during a 47-44 double-overtime win over South Dakota in the Potato Bowl on Saturday at the Alerus Center.

"Scoring on defense really gives our team momentum," UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. "It helped us win the football game today."

It was the first time in the Division I era—beginning in 2008—that UND has scored two defensive touchdowns in a game.

UND's defense registered a safety against Stony Brook and Harris returned an interception 63 yards for a score last week at Bowling Green.

Reyes scored for the first time in his career in the opening quarter against South Dakota. He returned it 33 yards for a 7-3 lead.

Harris also scored from 33 yards out, which cut the lead to 34-33 with 3:28 left in the fourth quarter before Reid Taubenheim's extra point tied the game.

"I was reading the quarterback and saw him eyeing my side the whole time," Harris said. "I saw (the wide receiver) break outside, and I said 'I'm breaking with you.'"

Harris is the first UND defensive player to score twice in a season since cornerback Dominique Hawkins did it in 2009.

"When you play a good team and give up two defensive scores, chances are you're not going to win and that caught up to us today," USD coach Bob Nielson said.

USD quarterback Chris Streveler, a transfer from the University of Minnesota, finished 16-for-29 passing with two interceptions. He passed for 215 yards and four touchdowns, while also running 19 times for 90 yards.

"Chris made some bad decisions," Nielson said. "Chris also made a lot of good plays. He'll take this loss as hard as anyone."

UND sees large crowd

UND had all of the right factors working together for a chance of strong attendance, and the crowd delivered.

The game was the home opener, it was played against an opponent with a long history against UND and the game marked the 51st annual Potato Bowl.

The announced attendance was 11,477, the largest crowd in seven years. UND's last crowd that large was the 2009 home opener against South Dakota (12,431).

Studsrud still hit and miss

UND quarterback Keaton Studsrud continued a trend of having his best quarter in the fourth.

Studsrud was 6-for-11 for 74 yards and one touchdown and also had an important 37-yard run that led to a Reid Taubenheim field goal to bring UND within 34-27.

Studsrud finished 12-for-25 with one interception, two touchdowns and 177 yards. He ran 13 times for 48 yards.

"He made some good throws, but we have to be good for four quarters," Schweigert said. "It's a big game for us next week when we start Big Sky play and we have to play four quarters."

Briefly

The Big Sky Conference went 3-0 against the Missouri Valley Conference on Saturday. Cal Poly beat South Daktoa State 38-31 and Eastern Washington beat Northern Iowa 34-30 ... The honorary captain for the game was former UND defensive back Donovan Alexander (2004-07) ... UND quarterback Keaton Studsrud was intercepted for the first time this season (127 passes) against South Dakota ... UND running back Oscar Nevermann carried just one time for a 2-yard loss but was injured on the play and was on crutches on the sideline for a majority of the game ... UND true freshman tight end Alex Cloyd saw his first game action against the Coyotes. He had one catch for six yards ... Reyes sat out much of the second half with an apparent leg injury ... UND played an overtime game for the first time since the 2008 finale at South Dakota. UND is now 7-3 all-time in OT games and has won six in a row ... UND improved to 39-12 all-time in Potato Bowl games ... South Dakota hasn't won in Grand Forks since 1985.

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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