Fighting Hawks Overcome 11 Point Deficit to Defeat Youngstown State

Claire Weltz, Editor

Saturday’s contest against Youngstown State marked the third meeting of the programs. The teams were scheduled to face each other last fall, but since the season was canceled, the last meeting between the teams was in 1962. UND now leads all-time meetings 3-0 with the November 6 victory.  

 UND won the coin toss and deferred. Youngstown received the opening kickoff, and their high-powered offense got off to a hot start. Jaleel McLaughlin rushed for a 5-yard TD for Youngstown State after a 4:22 drive to put the Penguins up 0-6. The 2-point conversion attempt was no good, but North Dakota was called for roughing the passer – giving Youngstown State a second chance. The Penguins did not attempt the 2-point conversion again and instead kicked a PAT to go up 0-7. 

 UND responded with a TD drive of their own. With an 18-yard catch from senior Brock Boltmann, an 11-yard rush from Isaiah Smith, and multiple carries from star-running back Otis Weah, North Dakota marched down the field. Quarterback Tommy Schuster scrambled outside the pocket and found a diving Bo Belquist in the endzone to put the Fighting Hawks on the board.  

 Youngstown State took over with 4:53 remaining in the quarter. The Penguins had two 10+ yardage plays to open their second possession. UND’s C.J. Siegel momentarily stopped the bleeding by taking down QB Demea Crenshaw for a sack and 7-yard loss, but YSU dug themselves out of that hole – converting on another long rush from McLaughlin. Christian Turner broke out for a 20-yard rush but was taken down inches from the goaline. However, Turner finished what he started on the next play to put the Penguins up 7-14.  

 The second quarter was scoreless, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Tommy Schuster was intercepted by Youngstown State, but UND’s defense was up to the task and forced the Penguins to punt. The teams traded series, and the next time YSU punted, the snap was high. Punter Nick DeSalvo fumbled, and UND recovered on the Penguin’s 30 yardline.  

 Despite the fantastic field position, the Fighting Hawks went three-and-out but missed the 48-yard field goal attempt.  

 Youngstown State’s next drive was killed by a holding penalty, and UND got the ball back with less than 2 minutes remaining in the half. The Hail Mary attempt in the closing seconds was unsuccessful, and the teams went into the locker room 7-14. 

 North Dakota received the second half kickoff. After a holding penalty by UND and an offsetting personal foul, YSU rekicked. The Fighting Hawks couldn’t find their way into the endzone but managed to kick a 32-yard field goal to chip away at the Penguin’s lead. That field goal for a 10-14 scoreline was the only scoring play of the third quarter. 

 If you left early, you missed out because the stars came out to shine in the fourth quarter. Youngstown extended their lead to 10-21 after a rushing TD by quarterback Crenshaw, and it was do or die for UND.  

 With QB Tommy Schuster leading the way, the team strung a scoring drive together, and a spark of hope flickered. Garett Maag had a 13-yard reception for the touchdown, but the 2-point conversion attempt was no good, making the score 16-21. 

 Seven minutes remained. UND needed the ball back, and the defense was up to the task. Every play of Youngstown’s series resulted in loss of yardage. Jaxson Turner put the nail in the coffin with his third sack of the season and forced YSU to punt. 

 Fans held their breath as UND started at midfield. Maag began the drive strong with a 9-yard reception. Only needing 1 yard to get the first down, Otis Weah did what he does best and shattered expectations. Weah turned on the jets for 43 yards and a Fighting Hawks’ TD. Schuster and Belquist took care of business on the following 2-point conversion, UND gained their first lead of the game at 24-21. 

 North Dakota held onto their lead courtesy of a split sack from Devon Krzanowski and Ben McNaboe, overcoming an 11-point deficit to win at home. The program celebrates its 667th win and moves to a record of 4-5 this year.  

 The Fighting Hawks will take on Illinois State November 13 in their last home game of the season; kickoff will be 2pm. 


Claire Weltz is a Dakota Student Editor. She can be reached at [email protected].