UND football holds off Abilene Christian 34-31
UND quarterback Tommy Schuster finished with 292 passing yards and two touchdowns.
GRAND FORKS — When Abilene Christian scored with 7 minutes, 48 seconds left to trim UND's lead to three points, the Wildcats had the momentum and the look of a team primed to knock off the No. 23 team in the FCS.
Abilene Christian never got the ball back. Tyler Hoosman and Quincy Vaughn made sure of that.
UND's offense milked the remaining seven-plus minutes of fourth quarter clock to seal a 34-31 win on Saturday in front of 8,355 fans at the Alerus Center.
The Hawks shook off a disappointing loss to No. 1 South Dakota State the week prior and moved to 5-3 overall by winning for the 18th time in their last 20 tries at home.
"It was a statement drive," Hoosman said. "It was a real gritty, team drive. We had that mindset we weren't going to be stopped. They can know what type of play is coming. Respect to them. They played us hard all game and were really tough to run the ball against them."
Hoosman, a first-year transfer from Northern Iowa, finished with 20 carries for 112 yards and two touchdowns. He had 31 rushing yards on UND's game-sealing drive.
Twice on the drive UND faced third-and-1. Each time, the Hawks brought in 6-foot-4, 245-pound backup quarterback Quincy Vaughn, who picked up the first down without a doubt on both attempts.
Vaughn's 3-yard sneak on third-and-1 with 1:40 left allowed UND to kneel out the rest of the clock.
"Tyler really got some tough yards there," UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. "He's been really good in those situations, and we trust him. Quincy, I think he's made all but two (short-yardage first downs) since he's been here now. He does a good job, and I think the guys dig in and believe we can get it."
UND was able to win the turnover battle, an area of emphasis during the week, as the Fighting Hawks entered the weekend ranked No. 121 out of 123 teams in turnovers gained.
UND safeties Kadon Kauppinen and Malachi Buckner both picked off passes — the first interceptions for UND since C.J. Siegel picked off Northern Arizona on Sept. 17.
"We were definitely in a bit of a drought, so it was good to see us get the ball a couple of times today," Kauppinen said. "We have to keep stacking that moving forward. It felt good."
Both interceptions were the first at UND for Kauppinen and Buckner. The interception for Buckner came in a pivotal moment, as ACU was backed up and trailing by three early in the fourth quarter.
The pick for Buckner, the transfer from Gardner-Webb, set up UND first-and-10 at the 11. Four plays later, Hoosman spun in for a 5-yard touchdown run to give the Hawks a 10-point lead with 9:49 left in the game.
"We got some turnovers today, which were big in the game," Schweigert said. "Offensively, I thought we really executed well. That last drive ... to end the game like that is the way you want to do it."
UND quarterback Tommy Schuster threw for 292 yards and two touchdowns. Bo Belquist had seven catches for 100 yards and a touchdown.
ACU quarterback Maverick McIvor was 21-for-32 passing for 239 yards and three touchdowns to two interceptions. UND outgained ACU 463 to 361.
"It was really good by our defense to give us good field position, and I thought we did a great job handling the momentum and not get too high or too low," Belquist said.