UND FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Norberg surprises with big day

Four different UND players have rushed for more than 100 yards this season: Quarterback Keaton Studsrud and running backs John Santiago, Brady Oliveira and Austin Gordon.

University of North Dakota defensive back Torrey Hunt (16) tackles Southern Utah wide receiver Mike Sharp (11) during the first half of SaturdayÕs game at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. . (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)

Four different UND players have rushed for more than 100 yards this season: Quarterback Keaton Studsrud and running backs John Santiago, Brady Oliveira and Austin Gordon.

Last Saturday, in a dominant win at Sacramento State, Studsrud, Oliveira and Gordon all had more than 100 yards.

But even though UND outran Southern Utah 255-51 in a 45-23 win on Saturday at the Alerus Center, it wasn't any of the usual suspects leading the Fighting Hawks in rushing.

Instead, it was fullback Kyle Norberg.

The 6-foot-1 former linebacker ran six times for 73 yards. His 31-yard rumble set up a Santiago 4-yard touchdown run in UND's key second quarter uprising.


"I didn't think he'd have that many yards on fullback dives, but he had a great day," Studsrud said. "He bounced off some blocks, I don't know if they didn't see him, but he had some good runs."

Norberg, a junior from Cary Grove, Ill., started his UND career as a linebacker and was switched to running back out of necessity in 2014. This is his first season at fullback.

"We're spreading the ball around and that keeps guys healthier," UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. "That's good to see."

Studsrud continues to excel

Last week, UND quarterback Keaton Studsrud had a breakout performance with his feet, running for more than 100 yards for the second time in his career.

Against Southern Utah, Studsrud showed his versatility with a career day through the air.

He was 20-for-27 passing for a career-high 282 yards and a career-high four touchdown passes.

Studsrud is the first UND quarterback with four passing touchdowns in a game since Ryan Bartels did it as a freshman against Northern Arizona in 2013.


"My comfort level is higher and higher each week," Studsrud said. "I'm not thinking too much and just playing. That's helped me the most."

Studsrud's accuracy helped UND win the turnover battle. Studsrud has thrown 179 times this year and only had one interception.

UND linebackers Brian Labat and Jake Hanson, meanwhile, picked off Southern Utah quarterback Patrick Tyler.

UND a little banged up

The UND defense limited Southern Utah to just two offensive touchdowns, despite playing without starting safety Cole Reyes and backup inside linebacker Taj Rich.

Reyes, who didn't practice all week, was injured late in last weekend's win at Sacramento State. He was listed as questionable in the UND injury report leading up to the Southern Utah game.

Tanner Palmborg and Chuck Flowers rotated opposite Zach Arnell in place of Reyes.

The UND offense also suffered an injury during the game. Wide receiver Luke Stanley, who caught a 9-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, was injured just before halftime on a first-down catch that set up a Noah Wanzek 7-yard touchdown grab.


Stanley, who finished with four catches for 45 yards, returned to the sideline in the second half with crutches and ice on his knee.

Schweigert said Stanley will be evaluated today or Monday.

"It's unfortunate," Schweigert said. "He's a good player for us. He made another good play on the sidelines and we lost him for the day. I hate the injury part of this game, but I'm impressed with our team that the next guy has come in and worked his tail off to do a nice job."

Freshman Travis Toivonen led the UND wide receivers with five catches for 99 yards. Demun Mercer added three catches for 63 yards.


Demun Mercer's 13-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter was his first at UND. Mercer is a transfer from Texas State ...Jake Hanson, a converted quarterback from Grafton, N.D., intercepted the first pass of his career in the fourth quarter ... John Santiago's three catches for 37 yards were both career highs ... UND, which entered the game leading the FCS in interceptions, added two against SUU and now has 13 on the year after picking off just six total in 2015 ... UND inside linebacker Dylan Bakker had a career-high eight solo tackles ... Austin Cieslak blocked an extra point after SUU's third-quarter touchdown.

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, or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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