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UND FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Studsrud's toughness impresses teammates, coaches

UND quarterback Keaton Studsrud was a game-time decision to start Saturday during UND's 38-31 win over Northern Arizona at the Alerus Center. Studsrud, who hadn't played in two weeks, had to leave the game a few times as his right arm seemed to d...

UND quarterback Keaton Studsrud was a game-time decision to start Saturday during UND's 38-31 win over Northern Arizona at the Alerus Center.

Studsrud, who hadn't played in two weeks, had to leave the game a few times as his right arm seemed to dangle.

At one point in the fourth quarter, Studsrud was hit as he threw an incomplete pass in the red zone. UND trainers had to come out on the field to look at his shoulder.

Each time it looked as though Studsrud was out for the rest of the game, he reappeared and made a big play. That toughness earned major respect from teammates and coaches.

"That's one of the toughest kids I've ever met," UND senior wide receiver Alex Reed said. "To see him be that resilient really radiated throughout the team."

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Studsrud finished with 252 passing yards on 13-for-34 passing. In the fourth quarter, he was 6-for-10 for 127 yards.

"Keaton is a strong individual," UND wide receiver Demun Mercer said. "He knows we're behind him 100 percent. That'll never change."

Studsrud downplayed his pain after the game.

"I was hurting, but I was playing for the guys next to me," he said. "You have to keep battling through. It was do or die. We had to win this game."

Said UND coach Bubba Schweigert: "We were going to take him out, but he kept going back in. That's what I love about him. He's a great competitor."

Good time for a bye

Studsrud's quickest answer in the postgame press conference came when he was asked if it was a nice time now for a bye week.

"Yes," he quickly blurted.

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Along with Studsrud, UND's offensive line will also gladly see a bye week next weekend. UND left tackle A.J. Stockwell, who didn't practice this week after an injury at Northern Colorado, only played the first series against NAU.

With Stockwell out, UND shifted right tackle Michael Coe to the left side and played redshirt freshman Bryce Blair at right tackle.

Wide receiver Luke Stanley, who has missed the last few weeks with an injury, might also be available for the playoffs following the bye week.

Harris continues stellar season

UND defensive back Deion Harris is no stranger to the end zone.

The 6-foot-3 junior returned his third interception for a touchdown this season when he brought a Blake Kemp pass back 40 yards for a score to provide the winning points in the fourth quarter.

The play was similar to Harris' interception for a touchdown in a comeback win over South Dakota in Week 3, a game that kick-started the Fighting Hawks' nine-game winning streak.

"Very similar," said Harris, who has five interceptions on the season. "I knew we were in this situation before.

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"It happened really slow for me. I read the quarterback and his arm motion. When he cocked back, I made a break."

UND now has an FCS-best 20 interceptions on the season. Connor O'Brien also picked off Kemp earlier in the game.

Briefly

UND senior wide receiver Alex Reed caught the first pass of his Fighting Hawks career when he grabbed a 27-yard pass in the first half. Reed also was UND's primary punt returner for the first time, due to Josh Seibel serving a one-game suspension following his arrest last weekend. Reed, a transfer from Iowa Central junior college, also forced a fumble on a punt return against NAU ... Demun Mercer's 147-yard receiving performance was the first 100-yard game for UND since Clive Georges had five catches for 141 yards in the 2015 season finale at Cal Poly ...The last UND team to go undefeated in conference play was the 2003 North Central Conference champions.

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, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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