Idaho State knocks off UND in worst FCS road loss since 2014

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UND's Austin Gordon surges for yardage behind center Patric Rooney as Idaho State's Oshea Trujillo goes for the tackle during Saturday's game in Pocatello. Photo/Doug Lindley, Idaho State Journal

POCATELLO, Idaho -- During the 2015 and 2018 seasons, the UND football program’s losses to Idaho State could easily be connected to the Fighting Hawks missing the FCS playoffs.

The 2019 version of the Hawks put those wheels in motion once again Saturday afternoon at Holt Arena.

A week after upsetting then-No. 12 UC Davis, UND responded with a baffling clunker as Idaho State rode a massive first half to beat the Hawks 55-20 in UND’s biggest FCS road loss since Nov. 1, 2014, at Eastern Washington.

“Hurts,” UND offensive lineman Kyle Hergel said. “When you put the work in, it stings. We’re a 3-3 football team, and we’re going to attack the grind. We’re going to come back and get a win next week.”


There was plenty of blame to spread around.

Quarterback Nate Ketteringham gave UND its first 300-yard passer (33-for-56 for 360 yards) in the Bubba Schweigert Era, but his up-and-down season continued as he threw two interceptions, including one returned for a score in the fourth quarter.

Defensively, UND, once the FCS’ No. 1 pass defense earlier this year, gave up an incredible 396 yards passing and five touchdowns to Matt Struck, as the Bengals picked on starting cornerback Hayden Blubaugh and hit explosive play after explosive play.

“We prepared hard and knew they can hit explosive plays,” Schweigert said. “Boy, you’ve got to be spot on with the one on ones … you’ve got to be able to win those to avoid the big play.”

The Hawks were also penalized 12 times for 102 yards. Idaho State had three scoring drives extended by UND roughing-the-passer calls.

It was an all-around miserable road trip for UND, which had a nine-hour travel day Friday. The team bused to Bemidji, Minn., where the team then arrived in Pocatello at 10 p.m.

“You’ve got to be ready for anything,” Hergel said. “That was nothing. We dealt with it. I’m not going to blame it on anything. They were the better team today.”

UND scored on its first offensive series, capped by a 3-yard James Johannesson touchdown run.


Idaho State, which improved to 3-3, countered with 34 unanswered points including a 31-7 halftime lead.

Struck, a first-year starter who struggled in ISU’s 59-20 loss at Montana last week, knifed his way through UND’s defense. Mitch Gueller finished with eight catches for 115 yards, Tanner Conner had four catches for 122 yards and Michael Dean had four catches for 91 yards.

UND had few moments of hope in the second half. One came on a 4-yard Brock Boltmann touchdown catch -- Boltmann’s fourth-straight game with a touchdown -- which cut the Bengal lead to 34-13.

But the Bengals had the answer, as UND’s defense struggled to stop Idaho State’s offense, which ended with 609 yards of total offense.

“You know, any loss is a disappointment, let alone when you give up 55 as a defense,” UND defensive end Mason Bennett said. “It’s a long season. This time of year, we all have to come together and look for that next win.”

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019 and 2022.

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, or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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