UND FOOTBALL: Big plays carry Sioux to win over Northwestern State

UND's offense didn't spend a lot of time on the field in the first half. Four of the Sioux possessions lasted a total of two minutes, producing four touchdowns and more than 250 yards of offense.

UND's offense didn't spend a lot of time on the field in the first half. Four of the Sioux possessions lasted a total of two minutes, producing four touchdowns and more than 250 yards of offense.

Not all Sioux players were pleased with the quick strikes, which led to UND's 49-24 win against Northwestern State on Saturday before 7,966 fans at the Alerus Center.

"I was talking to the hogs between kickoffs and I told them, 'I'd appreciate it if you guys would run the ball a little bit.' We needed a breather," UND defensive lineman Ross Brenneman said.

The Sioux offensive linemen didn't listen. Neither did Greg Hardin or Jake Landry.

UND's offense didn't let anyone catch their breath in the first half, turning in a performance that contained one highlight play after another.


UND racked up 524 of offense on a day that was highlighted by Hardin's five catches from Landry for 177 yards and three touchdowns. The Landry-to-Hardin scoring plays covered 52, 76 and 33 yards. Hardin also solidified his role as the UND go-to player.

UND improved to 2-2 and it was the first Sioux game against a Division I FCS opponent this season. The game served as a measuring stick for UND to see how it will perform in its third season of FCS competition.

"When we play disciplined football, we're pretty good," UND coach Chris Mussman said. "When we don't, that's the rollercoaster we're trying to avoid.

"You saw a team that came out hungry. When you get the momentum going early, it builds throughout the day. I was pleased with our effort, particularly in the second quarter. That's when we took control of the football game."

Northwestern led 10-7 after Rumeall Morris' 40-yard halfback option pass to Adrian Reese resulted in a touchdown. The touchdown came after Hardin scored on a 52-yard pass from Landry on UND's second offensive play of the day.

The Sioux, however, hit a higher gear in a 21-point second quarter.

n Hardin scored on a 76-yard scoring pass from Landry, a score that capped a three-play, 91-yard drive.

n Chris Anderson then hauled in a 71-yard scoring pass over the middle from Landry midway through the quarter, a score that capped a two-play, 75-yard drive.


n And Hardin finished the quick-score blitz with a 33-yard scoring pass with 1:48 left in the first half, a one-play drive set up by Justin Belotti's interception.

Landry, who threw for 300 yards, said he's not surprised much by Hardin anymore.

"He can make an average play into a great play," Landry said.

The quick scoring drives were just too much for Northwestern State, a team that a week earlier broke a 13-game losing streak.

"Our Achilles was giving up too many big plays against a good football team," Northwestern coach Bradley Dale Peveto said. "They had a good game plan."

Peveto, however, said he was a little surprised that UND came out throwing early.

But the Sioux returned to traditional football for one drive in the fourth quarter.

Back-to-back touchdowns by Northwestern State -- coming on a 5-yard run from Sterling Endsley that capped a 99-yard drive and another on a 68-yard pass from Paul Harris to T.C. Henry -- provided for the only uneasy moments in the second half.


The scores cut UND's lead to 35-24 heading into the fourth quarter.

But the Sioux then turned to running back Josh Murray, who led a 13-play, 73-yard ground-oriented drive that was capped by Jake Miller's 1-yard scoring run with 9:51 to play.

The Sioux still had one big play left, that coming on Murray's 60-yard punt return. That came after his 74-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

In the end, it didn't matter how UND amassed 49 points and 524 yards of offense.

"We'll take the points anyway we can get them," Mussman said. "The defensive guys may tell you differently. They may want to see 15-play drives. But as an offensive coordinator, you want to see points on the board any way you can get them."

The game, however, did have a few difficult moments for the Sioux.

"It wasn't a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination," Mussman said. "We were sloppy at times."


Wayne Nelson is the sports editor at the Herald.

He has been with the Grand Forks Herald since 1995, serving as the UND football and basketball beat writer as well as serving as the sports editor.

He is a UND graduate and has been writing sports since the late 1970s.

Follow him on Twitter @waynenelsongf. You can reach him at (701) 780-1268 or
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