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5 things you might not have noticed in UND's blowout win over Montana

UND's Mason Bennett tries to tackle Montana quarterback Dalton Sneed in Saturday's game at the Alerus Center. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

1. James Johannesson carries the load

UND junior running back James Johannesson, a transfer from the Minnesota Gophers, is often considered the third option in the UND run attack, but he was the go-to back for the second week in a row during the Fighting Hawks' 41-14 win over Montana on Saturday.

The junior from Fargo started the season with rushing totals of 32, 9, 43 and 15.

Two weeks ago, Johannesson rushed 22 times for 141 yards. Against Montana, he had 16 carries for 108 yards.

On Johannesson's 10-yard touchdown run, Montana defenders shied away from contact against the 250-pound bruiser.

UND starting running back John Santiago didn't play against Northern Colorado due to an injury.

He returned to the lineup after the UND bye week last week. Against Montana, Santiago had 11 carries for 68 yards.

2. UND's offensive line held strong

The UND offensive line, a unit that entered the season with plenty of question marks, continued to play well against Montana.

Montana didn't sack UND quarterback Nate Ketteringham once. The Griz were credited with just one quarterback hurry.

The offensive line saw a return of depth thanks to the bye week. UND true freshman Matt Waletzko was back in the mix, rotating at tackle with Nate Nguon.

3. Tanner Palmborg suffers an injury

On the second play of the second quarter, UND starting outside linebacker Tanner Palmborg suffered a knee injury.

He returned to the sideline in the second half on crutches.

When asked about Palmborg after the game, UND coach Bubba Schweigert was choked up with emotion.

"It doesn't look good," Schweigert said. "That really saddens me. The senior walked on here. He is an awesome leader. We'll see where it goes."

Palmborg, an all-Big Sky Conference performer a year ago, finished with three tackles, including one for loss.

The captain almost had an interception in the first quarter. The play was reviewed but an incomplete call wasn't overturned.

4. A couple of new faces

With a lopsided game for much of the second half, UND fans saw a variety of new looks against Montana.

UND senior wide receiver Luke Stanley caught a 2-yard pass—his first catch since 2016.

Stanley missed all of last season with an injury and has remained sidelined throughout fall camp.

Once a top UND offensive threat, Stanley has just recently started to practice again.

In addition, UND safety Chavildo Van Ommeren, a junior college transfer and native of the Netherlands, played for the first time this season.

UND true freshman cornerback C.J. Siegel saw his first action. The promising recruit was the defensive back on Montana's first touchdown pass—a 68-yard strike from Griz backup quarterback Cam Humphrey to Samuel Akem in the fourth quarter.

5. Special teams provides mixed bag

The up-and-down nature of UND's special teams in 2018 continued against Montana.

Freshman kicker Brady Leach missed an extra point and true freshman kicker Cade Peterson had a punt blocked.

Peterson was able to bounce back and pin two punts inside the 20.

Montana missed the only field-goal attempt of the game. Tim Semenza missed a 45-yarder midway through the second quarter—moments after Montana blocked the Peterson punt.

UND didn't allow any kick returns longer than 26 yards and no punt return longer than nine yards.

Tom Miller

Miller has been with the Grand Forks Herald sports department since 2004. He's also a Grand Forks native and UND graduate. 

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