Football team mashed in Potato Bowl

LOSS: The Green and White were taken down Saturday by the Jackrabbits.

After 10 consecutive wins in the annual Potato Bowl, the UND men’s football team had its streak snapped by South Dakota State Saturday night when a fourth quarter rally came up short.

The No. 6 ranked Jackrabbits held off the Green and White for a 35-28 win in front of an announced crowd of 10,038 at the Alerus Center in the 48th annual Potato Bowl.

SDSU’s victory was led by All-American running back Zach Zenner as he blew by the North Dakota line for 295 rushing yards and four touchdowns. The 295 yard performance by Zenner broke South Dakota State’s previous single game rushing record and helped spoil the night for North Dakota.

“We knew going into this game (Zenner) was going to be tough to stop,” UND coach Chris Mussman said. “We’re not the only team who has had trouble stopping him.”

SDSU (2-0) seemed to have no problems stopping UND (1-1) throughout most of Saturday’s game, taking a 35-14 lead heading into the final quarter of play before the Green and White picked up a major spark in All-American wide receiver Greg Hardin.

With 8:43 left to play in the fourth, Hardin hauled in a 16-yard touchdown reception in the corner of the end zone from quarterback Joe Mollberg to cut the deficit to 35-21.  Three minutes later, North Dakota picked up another big score off of a two-yard touchdown run by Jameer Jackson to bring UND within a score of tying SDSU. The Jackrabbits’ secondary ended all comeback hopes for the Green and White when Mollberg’s third down pass was picked off by SDSU’s Jimmy Forsythe with just less than two minutes left to play in the game.

“We made too many mistakes today against a really good football team,” Mussman said.

The interception was UND’s third and final turnover and sealed the game for SDSU.

North Dakota’s passing game carried the offense as it picked up major contributions from several players in the air.  The Green and White had snaps split by freshman quarterbacks Ryan Bartels and Joe Mollberg who combined to pass for 437 yards.  Bartels completed 13-of-22 with a touchdown and interception for 178 yards before being relieved by Mollberg in the second half.

Despite his late game interception, Mollberg had an outstanding performance for North Dakota, completing 15 of 23 passes for 259 yards while tossing two touchdown passes.

Greg Hardin had an electrifying performance in front of the Green and White faithful, hauling in seven receptions for 207 yards and two touchdowns.  The game was the second with more than 200 receiving yards for Hardin in his career.

Receiver Kenny Golladay also had a big night, catching eight passes for 117 yards and a touchdown while wide out Jameer Jackson had six receptions of his own for 60 yards.

The Jackrabbits defense ensured the Green and White had nowhere to run as UND running back Jake Miller was held to just 31 yards, while North Dakota picked up just 21 net yards of rushing on the night.

UND’s next action will be against Montana on Sept. 14 at the Alerus Center.

David Butz is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at