UND's blocked punt carries No. 22 Fighting Hawks to 35-30 win over Youngstown State
Cole Davis' blocked punt and return for a touchdown gave the Fighting Hawks a two-score lead in the second half.
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — A year ago, the UND football team seemingly found new ways to lose on the road each week, whether it was a late fumble, a missed field goal or an untimely interception.
The Fighting Hawks of 2022 are doing the opposite so far.
Halfway through the fourth quarter, UND redshirt freshman safety Cole Davis blocked a punt, returned it for a touchdown and sparked the No. 22 Fighting Hawks to a 35-30 win over Youngstown State on Saturday night at Stambaugh Stadium.
UND will head to its bye week with a 4-2 record including two road victories under its belt.
"(The Southern Illinois game) gave us a bad taste in our mouth," UND safety Jayson Coley said. "We say we want to be road warriors. We really wanted to win this game to be road warriors."
Davis' block and score gave UND a 35-24 lead with 8 minutes, 38 seconds left. YSU punter Paddy Lynch mishandled a snap and tried to get off a quick punt deep in his own end.
"I thought he was going to pick it up and run, and I was going to tackle him," Davis said. "He tried punting it, I blocked it and it was right there for me to pick up. You just have to make plays when it comes to you."
After a couple of big pass plays for the Penguins, a Jaleel McLaughlin 4-yard touchdown run cut into that lead to make it 35-30 with 5:49 left in the fourth quarter.
On the key 2-point conversion pass after the score, though, UND cornerback Edmund Ocansey broke up a pass in the end zone to make the Penguins need a late touchdown to win rather than a field goal.
After a conservative series for the UND offense that ended with a sack on third-and-long, Youngstown State got the ball back with 3:54 left in the game at its own 44-yard line after a short punt.
The Penguins marched as close as the UND 29. On third-and-7 with about a minute left, Coley sacked YSU starting quarterback Mitch Davidson to force a fourth-and-16.
"I was given the call to go off the edge, and I was able to get the quarterback," Coley said.
The play was reviewed for targeting but was ruled to not be targeting.
"I thought the guys did a good job with the pressure they called," UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. "On fourth, we're just trying to get the ball out and make a tackle. It was good execution from our guys on defense."
On fourth-and-16 from the 38, Davidson threw a 10-yard pass to Bryce Oliver, who C.J. Siegel tackled short of the line to gain to seal the win for UND.
Tommy Schuster completed his first nine passes and finished 20-for-31 for 292 yards passing.
"They were making it really tough to run the football," said Schweigert "He was really good early in the game. That really gave us a lot of confidence. Even when we got down, our guys were looking forward to getting back on the field because they felt they could move the football."
UND led 14-3 early thanks to a Tyler Hoosman 2-yard touchdown run and an Isaiah Smith 32-yard touchdown catch.
Schuster had 191 passing yards at halftime.
"We wanted to attack and put them on their heels and not us," Schuster said. "We put together a really good plan; credit to the coaches. We put ourselves in position to win the game late."
Youngstown State quarterback Mitch Davidson, making his first career start, finished 21-for-32 passing for 280 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
McLaughlin finished with 138 rushing yards.