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Dakota Student

The student news site of University of North Dakota

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UND Beats Drake in Season Opener

UND had won 36 consecutive home openers in previous seasons, and it became clear to the 8,603 in attendance on Saturday that 36 would become 37. The Fighting Hawks squared off with the Drake Bulldogs in the season opener Saturday, September 2nd. 

After a scoreless first quarter, the Fighting Hawks strung together a five-minute drive, which was capped off by a 5-yard touchdown run by quarterback, Tommy Schuster (Sr.). Two drives later, UND was able to find the endzone via wideout Bo Belquist (Sr.). Before his nine-yard touchdown catch, the New Rockford native hurdled a Drake defender amid a 24-yard gain. 

Leading 14-0 at the half, the Hawks wanted to set the tone for the second half early, which they did. On the first play from scrimmage of the half, Gavin Ziebarth (So.) took the ball 79 yards for a touchdown, virtually untouched.  

The ensuing Bulldog drive was ended prematurely by UND linebacker, Ted Mullin (Gr.). Mullin intercepted an incomplete pass, which bounced off the intended receiver. Following the interception, the Fighting Hawks continued to impose their will on the Bulldogs through the run, scoring quickly. The drive concluded with a 3-yard catch from newly assigned tight end, Quincy Vaughn (Sr.). 

After a Turnover on Downs from the Bulldogs, UND offensive coordinator Danny Freund reached deep into the playbook and pulled out some flair. The play caller dialed up a double reverse flea flicker, which resulted in Belquist catching a screen, evading a few Drake defenders and running over one, and tumbling into the endzone for a 23-yard touchdown.  

The Hawks would score one more touchdown in the third with a 7-yard run from Donavan Hunt (So.), putting the finishing touches on a 27-point quarter for the green and white.  

With a 41-0 lead going into the fourth quarter, the UND coaching staff decided to get some looks at its young talent, electing to give some playing time to its backup units.  

Before the Hawks could get back on the scoreboard, the Bulldogs ended UND’s hopes of their first shutout game since September 2021, which was against the Bulldogs. Ian Corwin caught a five-yard pass for a touchdown to get the Bulldogs on the board early in the fourth quarter. That would be the only taste of the endzone for Drake on Saturday. 

Later in the fourth, Trey Feeney (So.) connected with Elijah Klein (Jr.) for an impressive one-handed snag, which ended in a 33-yard touchdown. Klein fought through pass interference to make the grab.  

For the cherry on top, Hunt stormed through the Drake defense and found the endzone again for a 58-yard touchdown.  

UND was able to throw for 364 yards and four touchdowns, three of which were thrown by Schuster. The Hawks’ fervent ground game set up the play action and screen game effectively, which has been a theme of years past for UND.  

Schuster continued to build on his reputation as one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the country, completing 22 of his 26 passes for a total of 262 yards. 

UND had four different players take snaps under center on Saturday; Schuster, Vaughn, Feeney, and Romfo (So.).  

Ziebarth led the Hawks with 112 rushing yards on seven carries. Isaiah Smith (Jr.) led the team in carries (8) and ran for 45 yards.  

UND showed that despite losing a 1,000-yard rusher from last season, this year’s team doesn’t plan on changing its identity. The Bulldogs didn’t have much of an answer for the UND rushing attack, giving up 288 yards on the ground. 

Belquist was targeted 8 times, catching 7 of them for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Jack Wright (Jr.), Red Wilson (Sr.), and Wesley Eliodor (5th) each caught three passes as well.  

The Fighting Hawks gained a massive total of 652 yards on Saturday, nearly double the amount allowed by the UND defense (332).  

UND stays at home next weekend, hosting the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (0-1) on September 9th. The Fighting Hawks defeated the Lumberjacks in a tight 27-24 game in Arizona last season. 

 

Garrett Webber is a Dakota Student General Reporter. He can be reached at [email protected] 

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