Oliveira leads UND in victory over MSU Bobcats

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A well-fought battle against Montana State had UND take the victory, 17-15

The Fighting Hawks defeated the Montana State University Bobcats 17-15 last Saturday behind a huge day from Brady Oliveira and the defense.

“We found ways to get a big win to open our conference season,” UND head coach Bubba Schweigert said. “We have not made these last two wins easy ones, but we’ll sure take them.”

It was a rough start for UND. On their third play of the game, John Santiago fumbled the ball, recovered by MSU, setting the Bobcats up at the UND 35-yard line. The defense held the Bobcats’ offense to a field goal.

On the Hawks ensuing drive, the offense was able to move the ball. They drove down to the MSU 26-yard line, but missed the three-points on a field goal attempt.

After the miss by the Hawks, the Bobcats drove down to the UND 7-yard line. Once again, the defense would bend, but not break. They forced MSU to attempt another field goal making the score 6-0 Bobcats.

On their next possession, the Hawks’ offensive woes continued. They went three-and-out and punted the ball back to the Bobcats.

Something that has been a common theme this season for the Hawks is that the defense is the unit that has given UND a spark. Saturday in Bozeman was no different. Brian Labat stepped in front of a pass and intercepted it, giving UND the ball at the MSU 30-yard line.

The offense remained unable to get on the board despite the take over in Montana territory. Kicker Reid Taubenheim missed his second field goal of the game, this time from 37 yards.

Just before halftime, the Hawks offense came alive after the defense forced yet another turnover. Oliveira kick started the drive with a 14-yard run, and the Hawks gambled and won on a 4th down try at the MSU 4-yard line, and then Oliveira punched the ball in for a Hawks touchdown. The Hawks would go into halftime clinging to a 7-6 lead.

The Bobcats offense came out of the half and took the ball down to the UND 26-yard line aided by an important 42-yard pass on third down. The stout Hawks defense stopped them yet again and forced another field goal. The Bobcats had regained the lead, 9-7.

After UND’s offense punted the ball back to MSU, the defense came up big with yet another turnover. They recovered a fumble, and Taubenheim was able to kick the ball through the uprights this time. The score was 10-9 UND, with 2:58 remaining in the 3rd quarter.

Neither team’s offense was able to move the ball effectively early  in the fourth quarter. It wasn’t until Oliveira broke free for a 60-yard touchdown run with 2:27 remaining in the quarter that either team did anything but punt, save for an interception by red-shirt freshman Torrey Smith. The score was now 17-9.

The Bobcats got the ball back with 2:27 left in the game. On 3rd down and 8, Montana State quarterback Tyler Bruggman got the ball to Kevin Kassis, who made his man miss, and scampered to the UND 3-yard line for a 55-yard play.

MSU was able to carry it in making the score 15-17. After a pass interference call on the two-point conversion, the Bobcats got the ball at the 1-yard line to try again.

The UND defense once again didn’t break, and stopped the conversion run. Cole Reyes dove into the runner with his shoulder and drove him to the ground short of the goal line.

MSU would try a successful onside kick, but Zach Arnell continued his terrific day with an interception. MSU got the ball back, but didn’t have enough time to do anything with it, and time expired.

Oliveira rushed for a career high 171 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday and showed that UND’s offense has more than one great running back. He said he couldn’t take all the credit for his big day though.

“I want to thank the big guys upfront. Without them, I couldn’t have produced like I did today,” Oliveira said.

The defense as a whole also played well Saturday as they forced five turnovers and only gave up one touchdown.

UND returns home next Saturday, October 1st at 1p.m. to take on Cal Poly at the Alerus Center.

Adam Gunderman is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]