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5 things you might've missed in UND's 24-21 win over Youngstown State

The Fighting Hawks improved to 4-5 overall with two weeks left in the regular season.

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UND offensive lineman Matt Waletzko (76) hoists wide receiver Bo Belquist following Belquist's first quarter touchdown during a home football game versus Youngstown State at the Alerus Center on Saturday, November 6, 2021. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

1. First drive blues

Fort the fifth time this season, the UND football team gave up a score on the opponent's first drive of the game.

Youngstown State went 75 yards on the game's first drive, with the longest play a Jaleel McLaughlin 27-yard reception.

The Penguins only need to pick up one third down in the quick strike. On third-and-4 from the 15, the Penguins picked up 10 yards through the air to set up McLaughlin's 5-yard run to open the scoring.

"We always start a little slow on defense," UND linebacker Jaxson Turner said. "We made some corrections at halftime and it allows us to play fast and not play on our heels like the first half. After we made those corrections, I think we were fine flying around and making plays."

UND has also given up opening-drive scores to Utah State, South Dakota, Southern Illinois and Missouri State.

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"They had a good plan -- something a little different than what we were prepared for," UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. "One thing that offenses do is copycat. They'll go back and look at your season and run plays that they see has hurt you. We had to adjust a little bit. The hardest thing was the guys on backside usually fold and pursue to the ball and we really coach that but today you had to be really patient because (McLaughlin) will cut it all the way back. He's a special player."

2. Turner moves up record book

UND linebacker Jaxson Turner had a key quarterback sack in the fourth quarter to set up the Fighting Hawks' go-ahead score.

It was Turner's 19th career sack, which moves him into second place on UND's Division I record books for career sacks and third all-time with sack records dating back to 1977.

In Division I, the sack moved Turner ahead of Ross Brenneman, a defensive end who had 18.5 sacks from 2009-12. Turner is now one sack behind Mason Bennett, who had 20.0 from 2016-19.

UND's overall record holder is Wes Atkinson, who had 23.5 sacks from 1996-99.

Turner's climb through the records, however, are aided by playing in a fifth season, which was made possible when the NCAA ruled last spring wouldn't count against an athlete's eligibility clock.

3. Penguins struggle to stretch field

Youngstown State quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw, who was questionable entering the game with an injury and didn't play last week, finished 13-for-17 passing for 75 yards.

The Penguins only completed one ball to a wide receiver -- a 10-yard catch by Samuel St. Surin.

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YSU's leading receiver was McLaughlin, who had seven grabs for 39 yards and YSU's game-long play of 27 yards.

It's the second time this season UND has limited an opponent to one catch for its wide receiver group. In a loss to North Dakota State earlier this season, the Bison only completed one pass for minus-1 yard to a wide receiver.

UND's secondary was led by safety Jordan Canady, who had a game-high 10 tackles.

4. UND's Vaughn-Jones has career day

With UND's injuries piling up at outside linebacker, the Fighting Hawks' depth has been tested at that position.

Junior Marcus Vaughn-Jones was the latest to step up at outside linebacker, finishing with a career day against the Penguins.

Vaughn-Jones, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound Omaha native, had four tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and an interception.

Vaughn-Jones' tackle for loss in the fourth quarter led to Jaxson Turner's quarterback sack on the next down as the Fighting Hawks' defense held and set up UND's game-winning touchdown.

His third-quarter interception in which he had to wrestle the ball away from the opponent ignited the UND sideline.

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"When Marcus made that play, it got a lot of people pumped up," Turner said.

UND played against the Penguins without outside linebackers Ray Haas, Josh Navratil and Quinton Urwiler. All three are out with injury.

5. UND fortunate on fumbles

Ball security wasn't a strength of UND on Saturday, coughing it up three times. However, the Fighting Hawks didn't lose possession on any of the three.

On UND's first drive, running back Otis Weah fumbled inside the 10 but tight end Billy Riviere pounced on the ball. On the next play, UND quarterback Tommy Schuster hit Bo Belquist for a 9-yard touchdown pass.

On the opening drive of the third quarter, Schuster fumbled on third-and-9 and Weah was able to scoop up the ball and run for a 3-yard gain. On the next play, UND's Brady Stevens kicked a 32-yard field goal to cut the YSU lead to 14-10.

Later in the third quarter, UND quarterback Quincy Vaughn fumbled a snap, then picked it up and ran for 4 yards. He made up for it a few plays later when he ran for 3 yards up the middle on fourth-and-1.

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

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, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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