UND Bests Northern Iowa in 56th Annual Potato Bowl

After a back-and-forth game, UND came out champions in the first home game of the season.

Victoria Ledum, Dakota Student

The Battle of the Spuds began in 1966 when the two largest potato-growing regions faced each other in college football. Today the Potato Bowl is synonymous with fun in the community. The week prior to the game is filled with the world’s largest French fry feed, a parade, fireworks, and tailgates, but where it really counts is on the field. 

The University of North Dakota started off strong in the first quarter when Adam Zavalney, Junior Tight End, drove a 3-yard touchdown catch set up by Tommy Schuster, Junior Quarterback. Things remained in UND’s favor until the end of the first quarter when Northern Iowa’s (UNI) Matthew Cook, Junior Placekicker, scored a 22-yard field goal.  

Early in the second quarter, UNI picked off Schuster and was able to score a 41-yard touchdown seven plays later by Dom Williams, Senior Running Back, leaving UND behind 10-7. As time ran out in the second quarter, UND attempted to catch up to Northern Iowa with a 38-yard field goal attempt at intermission, which unfortunately went wide right.

After an exciting half-time show, both teams took the field, determined to become the victors. The Northern Iowa Panthers marched on their opening drive, but UND’s Josh Navratil, Junior linebacker, dropped UNI’s Theo Dayan forcing Northern Iowa to a short field goal, which was completed by Cook with 11:27 left in the third quarter, putting UNI in the lead once again 13-7. 

With seven minutes left in the third quarter, Schuster connected a 39-yard touchdown pass to Bo Belquist, Junior Wide Receiver, giving North Dakota a 14-13 lead. When Northern Iowa next held the ball, they drove in UND territory, but once again Navratil dropped Day leaving UNI with a loss. The following play was another Northern Iowa loss when the Panthers missed a 47-yard field goal.   

As time ran out on the scoreboard, the third quarter ended with no further scores from either team. However, in the opening play of the fourth quarter Tyler Hoosman, a former UNI Panther turned UND Hawk Running Back, scored on a 6-yard run, putting the Hawks in the lead 20-13. UND chose to go not for one, but two extra points. Schuster juked a defender and reached it to the end zone making it a two-score game, UND leads 22-13.  

With 13:06 left in the fourth quarter, Northern Iowa scored a touchdown as Williams ran it 47 yards out evening the score up a bit, but North Dakota still lead 22-20. Later in the quarter Northern Iowa got the ball after a UND punt, but after an interception by Wyatt Pedigo, Sophomore Linebacker, UND was able to march 77 yards down and capped the drive with a 6-yard keeper by Schuster. Once again giving North Dakota the lead, 29-20.  

Northern Iowa was not ready to throw in the towel yet with only seven minutes remained in the game. A UNI 72-yard pass from Day to Deion McShane, finishing the game at 29-27 for a North Dakota win.  

It was an exciting game to kick off football in Grand Forks, which displayed potential for a promising season. After the festivities leading up to the game, the football did not disappoint, and Fighting Hawks Fans were proud to support their boys in green.  

Victoria Ledum is a Dakota Student staff member, she can be reached at [email protected]