Nelson is the sports editor of the Herald
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CEDAR CITY, Utah - After Saturday's game, UND's lack of depth at running back doesn't seem to be that big of an issue. Jake Miller again carried the load, rushing for 161 yards and two touchdowns in UND's 26-20 Great West Conference football win against Southern Utah. Miller was in the spotlight for the third straight week with starting tailback Mitch Sutton out with an injury. Sutton pulled his hamstring at Fresno State two weeks ago.
UND 26, Southern Utah 20 Key play: Jake Miller's 3-yard scoring run for a 26-13 UND lead. Key player: Miller, 161 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns CEDAR CITY, Utah - After fumbling the football a few minutes earlier, UND running back Jake Miller had only one goal. He wanted to hang on to the ball. Miller hung on. More importantly, so did the Sioux as they held off No. 19 Southern Utah 26-20 on Saturday before 4,987 fans at Eccles Coliseum.
CEDAR CITY, Utah -- Southern Utah was headed nowhere when the Thunderbirds played at UND five games into the 2010 season. Once the Thunderbirds arrived at the Alerus Center, their game, as well, went nowhere for the first 15 minutes. The Sioux bolted out to a 14-0 lead and seemingly were headed for an easy win. But things turned in a hurry for SUU, which rallied for a 31-21 win -- a turnaround that propelled the Thunderbirds to the Great West Conference title and a 6-5 season.
Life on the road hasn't been easy for UND since the Sioux became a Division I Football Championship Subdivision program in 2008. The Sioux are 4-10 in Division I FCS road games -- their last win coming at the end of the 2009 season when UND rallied for a 17-16 win at Central Arkansas. A win Saturday at Southern Utah in the Great West Conference opener not only would help ease the program's road woes but it also would be the closest thing to a program-defining win for UND since the Sioux moved up to Division I football. "Our program needs to build," UND coach Chris Mussman said.
When talking college football in Utah, BYU and the University of Utah command nearly all of the attention. Southern Utah? "Most of the high school coaches in this state still think we're a Division II program," said Southern Utah coach Ed Lamb. Not anymore. Not after SUU's convincing 41-16 win at UNLV on Saturday night, a win that accentuates SUU's label as the preseason favorite to win the Great West Conference. SUU opens Great West play Saturday at home against UND. How the 3-1 Thunderbirds -- ranked No.
At halftime, UND was firmly in control, holding a 30-7 lead over Black Hills State. The Sioux players, however, had to wait a minute or two before heading to their locker room. They had to listen to a tongue-lashing from UND coach Chris Mussman. At the 50-yard line, Mussman had his team huddle and it was obvious he wasn't congratulating his team on a 23-point advantage. "We jumped them at halftime," Mussman said. Statistically, the first half belonged to UND.
On the first play, UND's Broc Bellmore stripped the ball from Black Hills State running back Trent Butler. Sioux linebacker Johnnie Daniels scooped up the ball and ran 28 yards for a touchdown. That was the only break UND needed against overmatched Black Hills State, a team making the transition from NAIA to Division II.
Justin Belotti went to Sioux Boosters this afternoon thinking he and his fellow UND senior teammates would be recognized by UND fans. He believed a quick recognition and a thank you to Sioux fans would be the extent of his involvement at the noon luncheon. Instead, Belotti was on center stage at the Alerus Center. To his surprise, the senior safety from Kenosha, Wis., received a standing ovation after he was recognized for being named to the elite 2011 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team -- a national college football award given to student-athletes who make outstanding contributions in the areas
A week ago, UND had Fresno State on the ropes before falling 27-22 against the Football Bowl Subdivision program from the Western Athletic Conference. In the following days, UND was praised for its effort and also earned a No. 21 ranking in the Football Championship Subdivision coaches' poll -- a first for the transitioning Division I program. On Saturday, the Sioux will play Black Hills State in the 46th annual Potato Bowl. Black Hills also is a transitioning program, making the jump from NAIA to Division II.
Since joining the UND football staff this summer, Luke Schleusner has been reminded about "The Catch" perhaps once a week. This week, he's heard a lot more about the catch he made in 2001 -- a play that is one of the biggest in Sioux history. "I probably heard about that play about once a month when I was coaching in Mankato," Schleusner said of his six seasons with the Mavericks.