UND Brings Home Big Win

The Fighting Hawks trampled Cal Poly for first road win

James DeArman, Sports Writer

This weekend, UND football faced their longest travel day of the year as they journeyed over 1800 miles to San Luis Obispo, CA to take on previously ranked Cal Poly Mustangs. SLO, as it is affectionately referred to by locals and students, is a much better team than their 2-4 record displayed. Coming into this contest all of their losses have been against ranked opponents or FBS juggernauts. A strong football team paired with extensive travel would be a true test for the Hawks.   

As the first half kicked off it became obvious that the uptempo Cal Poly option offense was going to try and run the ball and run the ball often exposing a UND rushing defense that had been subpar the last few matchups. On this first Cal Poly drive the Mustangs ran the ball on seven of eight plays and set the tempo for the rest of the game, finishing off the drive with a field goal try splitting the uprights. 

UND would swing back to take the lead with a second quarter 12-play, 75 yard drive that was capped by a James Johannesson three yard touchdown run, his sixth of the year. The rest of the second quarter was dominated by Cal Poly as they continued to run the ball, testing a North Dakota front seven which had been weak the last few weeks. The Mustangs would hang up two touchdowns in the second and carried a 17-7 lead into the half.

The second half would provide a thriller opened up by a strong 20 yard punt return which set up the Hawks after a quick three and out. UND quarterback Ketteringham lead his team down the field and took matters into his own hands as he smashed it up the middle on a one yard line quarterback run for the touchdown trimming the lead to just three points. 

Cal Poly would respond with their own special teams magic as the SLO return man brought it back 50 yards which left just 38 yards between them and the endzone. The Mustangs would cover that on eight plays and rush in the ball to extend their lead, although a failed two point conversion may have come back to haunt them as the score sat at 23-14

The North Dakota offense responded to their opportunity well and set out on another 75 yard drive ended with Alex Cloyds second most important touchdown grab of the night trimming the gap to just a 23-21 lead going into the last quarter of play. UND was given the ball after a great defensive possession to start the fourth quarter and unleashed a 10-play 57 yard drive but were unable to punch the ball into the endzone. The Hawks settled for the field goal and took a 24-23 lead, Cal Poly’s missed two point conversion now making the difference.  

The Mustangs next possession was exactly what a coach would ask for. The 16 play drive chewed almost seven minutes off of the clock and a 44 yard field goal put Cal up 26- 24 with three minutes left on the game clock. North Dakota set out on their would be game winning drive and matched into Mustang territory. A big stop from Cal forced a game deciding fourth and two for the UND offense. A perfect play call lead to a wide open Cloyd as he would streak into the endzone to give the Hawks a 30-26 advantage.

 “We actually called that play in our last home game [UC Davis] for a touchdown too,” said Cloyd. “We knew that it was the perfect play call on fourth down because they were expecting run.”

In the end, UND was able to withstand the youth football esque 63 rushing attempts from the Cal Poly offense as opposed to just 11 passing attempts, and steal their first win on the road this season. UND will return to the friendly confines of the Alerus Center next weekend with confidence as they face the No. 12 ranked Montana State Bobcats in an important game with playoff implications for both schools.