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UND FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Offense comes through late

Throughout the season, UND was not known for its ability to score quickly. The Sioux offense, if flavored, would taste vanilla. But when it counted the most, UND's offense delivered more flavors than Baskin-Robbins. The turning point in UND's 38-...

Throughout the season, UND was not known for its ability to score quickly. The Sioux offense, if flavored, would taste vanilla.

But when it counted the most, UND's offense delivered more flavors than Baskin-Robbins.

The turning point in UND's 38-37 win Saturday at the Alerus Center was a quick Sioux scoring drive in the fourth quarter, one that covered 75 yards in less than two minutes. It was capped by Brent Goska's 3-yard touchdown pass to Tyhre Ivery -- a play that cut South Dakota's lead to 38-31.

"When we started to speed things up, we got better," UND coach Chris Mussman said. "We got into a rhythm. We created momentum. You could feel it on the sideline."

Added Goska: Once you get in that rhythm, you can't stop it."

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The Coyotes fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Goska capitalized by hitting Chris Anderson for the game-winning touchdown.

Goska, a big Green Bay Packers fan, said the two-minute drive reminded him of one of his favorite players -- Brett Favre.

"I watched a lot of Brett growing up," he said. "So I've seen a lot of that."

Saturday was the first time he got to experience it.

Fortunate seniors

Goska and Anderson were two of 14 seniors to play their final game.

Both had similar careers at UND. Both had to fight for playing time. But both made the biggest play of their careers on the game-winning touchdown pass.

"Chris and I have had similar roads along the way," Goska said. "I really felt great for Chris. That was a great catch. Two years ago, I don't know if he makes that catch."

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Anderson knew he saved his best for last. He didn't have to go to many postseason press conferences during his career. And he was anxious to leave his first.

"I have six family members here and a lot of people I consider family here, too," Anderson said. "I'm kind of eager to get out of here."

Tough-luck Coyotes

South Dakota's season ended with a crushing defeat. The Coyotes couldn't hang on to a 20-point fourth-quarter lead. Had South Dakota won, the Coyotes would have earned a share of the Great West title with Cal Poly.

For the Coyotes, it was the second stinging loss of the season.

"This was a mirror image of our game three weeks ago at Cal Poly," South Dakota coach Ed Meierkort said. "We were up 17 there, too."

Meierkort took the loss personally.

"Any time this happens to your team, it's my fault," Meierkort said. "I feel bad for my seniors. We've got to get the mindset we can finish a game like this to be conference champions. Otherwise, we're going to be a conference also-ran.

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"I tip my hat to the Sioux. I wish them good luck in the Big Sky."

The Coyotes, who likely played UND for the last time, head to the Missouri Valley Football Conference next season.

Early breaks

UND led 17-7 in the second quarter, thanks to a ball-hawking defense.

After a Zeb Miller 44-yard field goal, Kenny Watkins recovered a Dante Warren fumble and returned the ball 22 yards for a touchdown, giving the Sioux a 10-7 lead.

On South Dakota's next possession, Warren fumbled again after being sacked by Ross Brenneman. Justin Belotti recovered, setting up Goska's 10-yard touchdown pass to Tyhre Ivery for a 17-7 lead.

But South Dakota then scored on its next five possessions to go up 37-27.

Trailing 34-17 at halftime, however, wasn't the end as far as Ivery was concerned.

"Everyone was down," he said of the halftime locker room. "But we knew we were a second-half team. We put it all on our seniors and they delivered."

Big block

Perhaps lost in the big comeback win was another blocked kick by UND.

Justin Belotti blocked an extra-point attempt by Kevin Robb after the Coyotes went up 20-17 midway through the second quarter.

At the time, it didn't seem it would be a game-changer.

But the missed extra point turned out to be big.

Notes and quotes

- Sioux senior linebacker Dan Hendrickson, who made 10 tackles, on the game: "It was looking ugly for a while but we stuck together. Somehow, we came out one point ahead."

- UND offensive lineman Joe Gleason switched jerseys. He put on No. 65 in honor of Brandon Quesenberry, an offensive starter on the line who missed most of the season with an injury.

- After UND went up 17-7, the Sioux offense struggled. On its next three possessions, the Sioux ended with a minus-18 yards.

- UND's defense held South Dakota to 16 yards in the fourth quarter. UND had 85 total yards through three quarters but gained 171 in the final quarter.

- UND coach Chris Mussman was asked if this was his biggest win as a head coach. His response: "Absolutely, not even close. To beat South Dakota, and a coach (Ed Meierkort) I respect, and to win a share of the conference championship, it's great."

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 wnelson@gfherald.com.
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