Vegas pegged it an early week pick’em and the Strip must have known what was coming. The Fighting Hawks kept a Homecoming crowd on the edge of their seats in a fourth quarter that saw the Hawks display athleticism, grit, and gaffes.
It wasn’t until a fourth down pass by the Aggies All-American QB Jake Maier fell to the Alerus Center turf with :09 seconds left that the partisans could breath easy. A victory formation kneel down and the Hawks had notched their second win this season versus a ranked opponent in a 38-36 thriller. UC-Davis came into the contest ranked #12. UND moved to 3-2 on the season.
In our Pregame Show, both Kelly and Shannon picked the Hawks to win this one. Kelly 27-26, Shannon 31-20 (while boldly predicting in “strength on strength” – Davis pass game v Hawk pass defense, that the Hawks would hold the Aggies to under 200 yards passing…:). It held up for a quarter as Maier was 3/6 for only 36 yards. He finished the game 29/51 for 357 yards, 4 TDs, and 3 Ints.
— UND Insider (@UNDinsider) October 5, 2019
James Johannesson had his best performance of the season with 87 yards on 18 carries. Four of his first half carries went for 1st downs. Two fumbles, both recovered by the Hawks including a Patric Rooney recovery in the end zone for a “Big Boy Touchdown”, were the only blemishes on an otherwise stellar performance. Johannesson’s pass protection stood out as well.
Dalton Gee scored his first Fighting Hawk touchdown on an 8 yd. run in the 3rd quarter. He finished with 6 carries for 16 yards.
Brock Boltmann continued to impress both on the ground and in the air. His only 2 rushing attempts netted 47 yards. He also contributed 5 receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown; an acrobatic endzone adjustment from Ketteringham from 23 yards out which put the Hawks up 21-7 with 10:45 left in the first half. This much is clear: Boltmann was dude out there and just a Stallion for UND – he should be drinking mint juleps and training with Bob Baffert in the off-season.
Garett Maag led all receivers with 10 catches for 81 yards including an 18 yard touchdown pass in the 2nd quarter putting the Hawks up 28-14 during which he broke 2 tackles and scampered in 12 yards after catch.
Travis Toivenen had 6 receptions for 52 yards. Noah Wanzek added 4 receptions for 59 yards and Alex Cloyd scored on an 8 yard reception from Ketteringham in the first, which was great to see and was a tough catch, also.
Nate Ketteringham rebounded in a big way from first start back from injury last week v EWU. He finished 29/40 for 279 yards, 3 TDs, and 1 interception, an ill-advised sideline throw under pressure. The offense only gave up one sack on the day, however Ketteringham was often hurried. For the most part, he made good decisions under pressure and even picked up 26 yards on 4 carries. Impressive was the precision of his sideline throws. In our review we noted one notable missed receiver: Garret Maag overthrow in the end zone. Eliminate the visible distractions and Nate will continue to be the quarterback this offense needs to execute its multi-faceted attack as it heads into the second half of the season and a playoff push. He definitely bounced back this week.
The offensive line looked much improved over last week. For the second straight week the Hawks started: LT – Waletzko LG – Tobin C – Rooney LG – Hergel LT – Nguon. As mentioned previously, Ketteringham was only sacked once. The Hawks rushed for 187 yards on 35 attempts, averaging 5.3 yards per attempt. Good, consistent push up front vs. a stout Aggie DL.
Saturday’s defensive performance has to begin with noting the continuing emergence of CB CJ Siegel, who had two interceptions on the day. His first displayed his incredible closing speed as he caught up to the Jake Maier pass in the end zone just in front of the intended receiver. Davis tried to go up top after UND’s only turnover on the day and Siegel got UND the ball right back.
Siegel’s second interception of the 4th quarter came on a 4th & 14 and was returned 58 yards to the Davis 21 yard line. The Hawks failed to score on the drive (missed 37 yd FG att. by Leach), but the pick turned the momentum back the Hawks way.
Donnell Rodgers led all defenders with 13 tackles (1 TFL) and a forced fumble, followed by Leonard Nelson IV with 7, CJ Siegel with 6.
The Hawks did not record a sack but Maier was hurried often. Most notably on the two picks by Siegel. Mason Bennett rushed Maier’s throw on the Siegel pick in the end zone, while Tyron Vrede leveled Maier on Siegel’s second pick.
The Aggies only rushed 26 times and were held to 81 net rushing yards. While the Aggies only converted on 4 of 15 third downs, they did manage to convert on 4 of 7 – 4th down attempts; many of which kept them in the game at critical times.
As has been their M.O., the Aggies had receptions from 10 receivers. TE Wes Preece is a stud and had 5 receptions for 68 yards including the Aggies final TD with 2:02 remaining on a 4th & Goal from the 2. Siegel had great position, but was simply overmatched by Preece’s 6’5 frame.
Overall, the Hawks pass coverage was just OK. As noted in the Midco broadcast by analyst Ryan Kasowski on a couple of coverages by Jade Lawrence, “sometimes the All-American (Jake Maier) is going to make throws that beat good coverage”. We continue to see too many TE’s open underneath coverage. Teams will continue to exploit that.
Kicker Brady Leach drilled his career long 46 yard field goal with :57 on the clock to put the Hawks up 38-36. He had missed an earlier 37 yard attempt that would have put the Hawks up two scores with 5:28 remaining. It was good to see Brady hit the game winner. We hope that success will give him the confidence we’d like to see in him. I was never more happy to be so wrong after I called out the special teams when his first kick went wide left.
Special Teams continues to be hit and miss. Coverage on both kickoffs and punts has been terrific. Brady Stevens’ kickoffs averaged 53 yards with most getting to the 5 yard line. No touchbacks. One kick out of bounds that the Aggie returner should have fielded. It hit near the 3 yard line, took a hard left and went out of bounds.
One of the most improved areas on the team has been kickoff coverage. Those guys seem to have the old fire back that we used to see on that unit. Ty Shannon absolutely jackhammered the UCD returner in open field to the delight of the crowd. You can’t understate how important big hits on kickoff team are to jump start the crowd for the next defensive sequence.
Cade Peterson averaged just over 30 yards per punt on his 3 attempts. Most notably a 30 yard shank with 10:18 remaining in the 4th that gave the Aggies excellent field position at midfield.
Hayden Galvin was ejected for targeting in the 2nd quarter. Edit: he will be able to play at Idaho State. Leonard Nelson IV replaced Galvin.
Cam McKinney had 3 kickoff returns for 78 yards. His longest was 38 yards.
A Look Ahead To Idaho State
The Hawks travel to Pocatello, ID to take on Idaho State 10/12 – 2:00pm kickoff. UND is undefeated at Holt Arena in their D1 history.
We predicted UND to be 3-2 at this point, in fact, we picked the games correctly and also for UND to beat Davis by 2 points and SHSU by 3 (off by 1). This team is playing about as we thought they would. We had UND beating the Bengals by 7 in that write-up.
Photos courtesy of Eric Burton.