Another road game in the MVFC vs. a ranked opponent.  Another last minute loss for the Hawks. 

UND played a pretty solid game for about 54 minutes on Saturday.  The other six minutes, unfortunately, were the last six and they cost UND the game. 

Missouri State stormed back to beat the Hawks 32-28 and essentially put a nail in UND’s playoff hopes.

The offensive stats were pretty even – 441 for UND, 468 for MSU.  The Bears did their work through the air with QB Jason Shelley going 29-42 for 349 yards and 3 TD’s. 

Shelley was the difference in this one.  If MSU has a pocket passer like last spring UND wins the game and collects a bunch of sacks.  The Hawks were getting a bunch of pressure but had a hard time corralling the elusive Shelley.  UND registered two sacks but they were on back-to-back plays late in the game. 

I knew Tyrone Scott was good and he showed it with 10 catches for 147 yards and 1 TD, but the Bears consistently were picking up big chunks vs UND and the tight coverage we saw all year just wasn’t there.  One reason for this is the Bears ran a nice little scheme where they flared the running back to the flat, which pulled the ILB out, then ran shallow crossers and hit those for big gains.  It wasn’t as if the UND secondary was getting beat 1-on-1, it was more that the windows were too big vs. zone coverage. 

The pass interference on C.J. Siegel on the last drive was a bad call and hurt UND greatly.  It came on 3rd and 1 and setup the Bears at the UND two yard line.  The pass fell incomplete and there really wasn’t much there.  4th and 1 changes everything but to no avail. 

The last six minutes I referred to earlier were the difference between an experienced, veteran team and a team that isn’t quite sure how to close out a game on the road vs. a talented team.  As soon as the Hawks didn’t convert that first 4th and 2 with 6:36 left it appeared both sides of the ball panicked a bit, especially the defense.  MSU drove right down the field in six plays and converted the two point conversion to make it 28-25.

Because the ESPN feed was out at halftime nobody got to see the plays unfold.  The 4th and 2 with 6:36 left was going to be UND’s version of the “Philly Special”.  Quincy Vaughn slid to his left and Otis Weah took the snap and ran right, then was supposed to flip it to Bo Belquist who was running back left in motion behind him.  All while, Vaughn snuck out to the left flats to receive the pass from Belquist.  The only problem is the handoff/flip got botched and UND ended up  losing 8 yards on the play and turning it over to MSU. 

My hindsight is 20/20 comment on that play is just run Otis in some form or another.  UND tried a gadget play vs NDSU on 4th and short and didn’t get it that time either. Now vs NDSU I fully understand not running Otis straight ahead. Against Missouri State I would like to think something outside would’ve gotten the first down since Otis ran for 156 yards and 3 TD’s on the day.  Inside was tough but the outside running game was there all day. 

Otis had a big day as I mentioned but the play that most remember is the fumble at the end.  I am not going to rag on Otis because he got hit from all directions and it popped out.  Obviously UND would’ve like to make MSU use their timeouts on that play and the next two being it was 2nd and 6 but the MSU defense made a play.  Basically, UND had three plays to get 6 yards and win the game and didn’t do it.  Then, the defense let them move right down the field, which was a bit disheartening considering the game was on the line. 

The old adage “winner’s win” rings true all day, every day.  To win a road game in the MVFC you have to show up and play three-phase, clean football. UND is not good enough to win road games in this league if they don’t play clean football. The Hawks rarely win the pregame warmup ‘eye test’.  This isn’t the Big Sky where 5-6 programs are mediocre to terrible and you can have an off week….or quarter.  UND has taken a quarter off here and there and it cost them a game twice now (MSU and SIU). 

The Hawks now sit at 3-5 on the season with three games left.  Luckily for them they have back-to-back home games coming up vs. Youngstown State and Illinois State, both teams with a losing record.  Get those and they head down to Brookings looking to go 6-5.