When thinking of a title for this blog post, I knew I needed to include the word “late” somewhere because a lot of things went down late on Friday night – not only in a game sense but a time sense, as well.


The Hawks couldn’t keep their early energy up and ended up losing by a score of 48-24 in a game that was a heck of a lot closer than the score indicates. UND was up 21-20 at halftime.

The Hawks now need to regroup after the long day/night out in Logan and get ready for their home opener vs. Drake.  This game also doubles as the annual Potato Bowl!  Always a great time to be had.

The Good

The way the Hawks offense opened the game was about as perfect as possible.  Those first three drives were the most entertaining football I have watching in quite some time.

  • 7 play – 71 yards – Boltmann reverse pass to Belquist for TD
  • 8 play – 75 yards – Schuster to Zavalney for TD
  • 6 play – 59 yards – Vaughn to Burian for TD

You will notice that it was three different players that threw those first three TD’s.  That is unheard of.  The offense was creative and had USU on their heels most of the first half.

Bo Belquist came back in a big way off his spring injury catching 5 passes for 51 yards and a TD.

Tommy Schuster played well going 29-43 for 345 yards and 1 TD.  The TD to Zavalney was a laser that showed his zip on the ball.

Schuster did, however, throw two INT’s. The second one was a tough one as they dropped the walked-up linebacker into underneath zone coverage and Tommy didn’t see him.  But, the first one he forced into double coverage when the trailing Boltmann on the outside was open. Easy to Monday-morning QB, I get it.

Garett Maag had a solid game catching 5 passes for 81 yards on a bad hamstring.  You could tell the burst after the catch wasn’t quite there but he played well for less than 100%.

WR Tyler Burian had the catch of the year thus far.  The diving, full extension TD snag from Vaughn was highlight reel material.  Good for the Red River product, a former walk-on who has stuck with it and earned playing time.

The UND corners played quite well all game, IMO. The majority of the big plays were not against them and they actually defended several deeps ball nicely vs. highly skilled receivers.  Holm, Nelson, Siegel, & Robertson all battled the entire game.

C.J. Siegel’s INT to start the second half was huge for momentum.  He broke nicely on the long comeback route and ripped it away from the receiver.

The Hawks defense had another goal line stand that kept them in the game after they got down 27-24.  They stopped the Aggies three times on run plays and then defended a high pass to 6’6″ Justin McGriff.

The Hawks held USU to 4-16 on third down – outstanding.

UND played quite a few tight ends in the game, which was interesting.  Adam Zavalney, Billy Riviere, Trae Steckler, Max Gunderson, & Jaden Norby.

The Bad

The Hawks defense just couldn’t keep up with the Aggies hyper-speed attack.  To add in all those playmakers, like #13 Deven Thompkins, it got to be too much as the night wore on.

Here’s the deal – UND isn’t built defensively to play vs. a team like that and beat them athlete vs athlete.  The Hawks can hang around and play them tough but it takes a 3-phase game to beat a USU-type team and that didn’t happen.

Let’s remember one thing – it was past midnight when the 4th quarter started to get away from UND.  MIDNIGHT.  Their body clocks were off and they looked completely gassed not only from the delayed start (90 mins) but the tempo that the Aggies run their offense at.

UND arrived home at 6:00am Saturday morning.

The Hawks defense gave up 621 yards of offense.  Obviously, that is unacceptable but it got away from them and there wasn’t much they could do.  217 of the yards came in the 4th quarter.

Way too many miscues in the secondary on Friday night.  Several times the Aggie receiver was wide open across the middle and upon replay there were no safeties in sight.  That tells me somebody was crossed up because the linebackers weren’t trailing the receiver, either.  The first Aggie touchdown is an example.

Open-field tackling was hit and miss all night.  It needed to be hit for them to win.  Several times UND missed a 1-1 tackle that would’ve led to either a punt or a longer 4th down attempt.

The Hawks ran the ball 24 times for 65 total yards.  Not good.  My main key to the game was running Otis Weah inside, controlling the tempo of the game, and forcing the Aggie offense to stand and watch on the sideline (thus not finding a rhythm).  That didn’t happen at all but there were times it seemed Otis was close to breaking a run but would get shoe-stringed.

The interior of the Hawks offensive line let way too much seepage through in this one.  Otis couldn’t get going because it seemed there was always one guy leaking through that stifled his momentum.  Credit USU with getting more aggressive up front as the game went on and bring more hats to the party.  That threw UND off and killed their rhythm.

Moving on – let’s have a great time on Saturday at the Potato Bowl!  I love this time of the year as Grand Forks supports the heck out of the Potato Bowl activities that run all week in town culminating in the annual Saturday parade, followed by the football game.

Plus, tailgating is back!

This Hawks team is fun to watch and this weekend should be a blast as they take on the Bulldogs before heading into their bye week.


Cover photo courtesy of USU Athletics/Wade Denniston.