SACRAMENTO, Calif.-With Sacramento State celebrating homecoming Saturday night, the school shot off fireworks at halftime from a parking garage near Hornet Stadium.
Not many of the home fans, however, were in a celebratory mood.
No. 24 UND built up a dominant 27-0 halftime lead en route to a 40-7 win over Sacramento State.
The Fighting Hawks won their fourth-straight game and improved to 4-2 overall, while moving to 3-0 in the Big Sky Conference for the first time since joining the league in 2012.
UND's 33-point margin of victory is its best all-time in league play and the seven points surrendered are also an all-time Big Sky best for the Hawks.
"We got off to a good start and controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides," UND coach Bubba Schweigert said.
UND's balanced rushing attack took over from the start. UND rushed for 247 yards to Sacramento State's 25 in the first half. UND racked up a season-high 625 yards of total offense and rushed for 422 yards as a team. The Fighting Hawks averaged 8.2 yards per play.
UND had three players run for more than 100 yards. Brady Oliveira had 111, Austin Gordon had 102 and quarterback Keaton Studsrud ran for 100.
Studsrud, who came into the game with just 46 rushing yards on the season, used his legs for UND's first two scores. He scored from 6 yards out to cap an eight-play, 99-yard drive in the first quarter and ran in from 40 yards out in the second quarter.
"We needed to come out and do that against an opponent," Studsrud said. "Overall, I thought the offense did a great job, got guys in space and ran the ball."
UND sophomore running back John Santiago, who didn't practice all week and missed most of UND's win last weekend against Cal Poly due to an ankle injury, returned to action and scored from 26 yards out to give the Fighting Hawks a 20-0 lead with 5:52 to play to halftime.
Oliveira, who rushed for more than 100 yards for the third-straight week, capped the first-half scoring with a 17-yard run for a 27-0 lead with 25 seconds remaining until halftime. The sophomore also scored early in the third quarter to push the Fighting Hawks' lead to 34-0.
Studsrud not only rushed for two scores in the first half, but he was also accurate in the passing game. He was 10-for-11 passing in the first half for 122 yards. He finished 15-for-23 for 203 yards.
Schweigert was pleased with his team's depth and toughness. UND saw eight ball carriers take handoffs and Schweigert noted Santiago, left tackle A.J. Stockwell and nose guard Tank Harris played well through injuries.
"Guys are believing in each other," Schweigert said. "We have the mentality like we need. If someone goes down, someone else does the job. John (Santiago) gave us a boost, and we were proud of how hard he worked to get back. We challenged our guys who are a little uncomfortable. If you want to be where we want to be, you've got to play a little banged up."
Sacramento State quarterback Nate Ketteringham, who entered the game with back-to-back 300-yard passing games, was limited to 177 passing yards on 15-for-34 passing.
Ketteringham was sacked three times in the first half and the Hornets were just 1-for-8 on third downs at halftime.
The Hornets, who came from behind to beat Montana State a week ago, dropped to 1-5 overall and 1-2 in the Big Sky.
UND freshman Evan Holm had the team's lone interception, which raised the team's season total to 11 picks. The Fighting Hawks entered the game leading the FCS in interceptions.
The runaway score was a welcomed change for UND, which saw its first five games of the season decided by seven points or less.
UND, which returns home to face Southern Utah on Saturday at the Alerus Center, and Eastern Washington are the only two 3-0 teams in Big Sky play.