Winning on the road in the playoffs is never easy and that proved true once again on Saturday.
UND fell to the Nicholls State Colonels by a score of 24-6, ending their season with a 7-5 record.
Nicholls, 9-4, will move on to face the Bison this Saturday.
The name of the game in the playoffs is typically “run the ball, stop the run”. Do those two things and you got a great shot at moving onto the next round.
UND wasn’t able to do either vs. the Colonels. The Hawks only ran the ball for 44 yards total and gave up 316, which is obviously an awful ratio. UND struggled to run the ball all season but had found some success recently but it was against teams nowhere near as good as Nicholls.
The UND run defense never seemed to get their footing vs. the simple but effective inside zone game of the Colonels. RB Julien Gums was a load to bring down and carried defenders many times after breaking through the initial wave. He finished the day with 175 yards.
The inability to contain the inside zone stuff was main reason why UND lost this game. To give up that many rushing yards is absurd in the first place but most of them were between the guards, which makes it even tougher to stomach.
Offensively, the Hawks seemed to find a rhythm throwing the ball but always fizzled out around the 30-45 yard line of Nicholls. They couldn’t hit the big play and when the field tightened so did their opportunities.
QB Nate Ketteringham didn’t have his best day but did hit some nice balls to his big WR’s. Kett ended the day 27-47 for 269 yards and 1 INT, which was tipped at the line. In the game Kett became the UND D1-era leader in yards & completions in a season.
The senior WR duo of Noah Wanzek and Travis Toivonen both had nice games in their final outings as a Hawk. Toivonen caught 10 balls for 121 yards and Wanzek caught 7 balls for 61 yards. This was all done vs. tight man-to-man coverage the entire game. Wanzek also broke Kenny Golladay’s D1-era record for single-season catches in a season with 74.
Mason Bennett had another phenomenal effort in his final game as a Hawk. Bennett notched 8 tackles, 2 sacks and 2 TFL’s and was disruptive from the get-go. He also became the UND D1-era leader in career sacks with 19.
Overall, it was just a disappointing result for everyone involved. Coaches, players, fans, etc. The Hawks played their way into the playoffs by going 7-4 but were never a good road team to begin with. So, we are not shocked they lost this game but it certainly was winnable. 10-6 in the third quarter means you’re one play away from taking the lead. That big play never came.
Which leads me to my next rant: how did UND not lock up a home game? Here are the facts: UND was 6-0 at home and looked pretty damn good in most all of those games (minus parts of Montana State & UNC). They were 1-4 on the road and looked horrible at times but did rebound with a solid effort out at Weber State. Still, they were 1-4.
The UND offense is much, much better inside the cozy confines of the Alerus Center. In 2019, they scored 47, 27, 38, 16, 45 & 36 points at home. On the road they scored 7, 20, 20, 30, and 27. That’s an average of 35 points at home vs. 21 on the road.
One big thing that UND needs to do to take the next step as a program is to win a playoff game. They have made the playoffs twice and been a seed one of those times. But they have never won a playoff game. This was a very realistic chance at getting that monkey off their back and they got outbid by Nicholls State, who never should outbid UND for anything. Their athletic budget is around 10 million dollars. UND’s is right around 22 million.
UND should have hosted this game and I can guarantee they would’ve looked better than they did on Saturday down in Thibodaux. Call it sour grapes, whatever, but if there was ever a time to go big it was with this 2019 edition of UND Football. 6-0 vs. 1-4 is the only reason needed.
Because college football never stops, we will be transitioning into recruiting season here shortly. The first signing day is set for December 18, 2019.
UND currently has 21 commits. You can see the entire class HERE.
The recruiting calendar just opened up on Sunday for contact between coaches/recruits so look for UND to hold their first official recruiting weekend next weekend, December 14th. (edit)
Cover photo by Russell Hons.
Post photo courtesy of Nicholls State Athletics.