I stated in the pregame show that points would be at a premium, with my game prediction being UND 20-14. It turned out that I was optimistic in the amount of points that would be scored.


UND used a smothering defense and steady, methodical offense to take a 14-7 victory over Illinois State and even up their record to 5-5 on the season. The Hawks now sit at 3-4 in the MVFC with one game left to play this weekend at South Dakota State.

The Hawks seem to still be in the discussion for the FCS playoffs, which is fairly interesting to me. A win over SDSU is a must, along with some help, and luck. Stranger things have happened but UND must first find a way to beat SDSU.

The Good

The Hawks defense was outstanding most of the game on Saturday. Their run fits were in-tact, the pass defense was sound (wasn’t challenged much), and tackling was sure, as well. ISU only gained 164 total yards on 53 plays. The Redbirds like to play conservatively, yes, but to hold a team to 164 yards in this day and age is pretty damn impressive.

The front for the Hawks was very good again, led by a nice game from DE Quintin Seguin, who notched 6 tackles on the day and was once again disruptive up front. Seguin has had a breakout season for UND.

OLB Jaxson Turner became the D1-era career leader in sacks for UND with 21. He had two in the game to go along with two TFL’s. Turner has had a huge senior season and UND is very lucky he came back for the fall season.

The Hawks added five more sacks in the game to bring their season total to 25. UND did allow two sacks on Saturday but have only given up five on the season.

After the 4th quarter fumble by Bo Belquist, with the game tied at 7, the UND defense stepped up and forced a three-and-out. The next drive the Hawks marched right down the field to take the lead on a Quincy Vaughn to Gaven Ziebarth touchdown pass. That was the turning point of the game. If ISU mounts a drive there to take the lead things get awfully dicey.

Tommy Schuster had another solid outing at QB. I didn’t like the false start penalties by the offense but those weren’t his fault. Schuster was not only throwing the ball accurately he was also scrambling when needed (except for the long incomplete pass to Boltmann where he could’ve ran for 20 yards). Tommy ended the day 19-25 for 233 yards and 1 TD.

Brock Boltmann is getting stronger as the season wears on. He was injured all spring into the fall but now appears to be near 100%. He is dragging defenders after the catch and is sparking the offense with his play. Boltmann had 4 catches for 77 yards.

The Bad

Injuries. The Hawks lost two big pieces on Saturday when LT Matt Waletzko went down with a shoulder injury and ILB Noah Larson suffered a lower leg injury. Both of them were mainstays in the starting lineup for several years now and will leave a big void this weekend vs. SDSU. I wouldn’t expect either back this weekend.

Fumbles. Once again, UND drove inside the 15 yard line and fumbled – TWICE. Both were after catches and both took sure points off the board. Against a top defense like ISU, that cannot happen. UND realistically should’ve put 10 more points on the board with those two drives, plus the end of half missed field goal that doinked off the upright would’ve been three more.

Illinois State’s lone touchdown came in the second half on what appeared to be a blown coverage by UND. Tight end Bret Spaulding simply ran a corner route and there was a large void behind the UND corner and the safety wasn’t anywhere close. The result was a 28 yard TD catch that tied up the game.

It’s do or die for the Hawks this weekend in Brookings. The Jackrabbits are reeling after their last-second hail mary loss to the in-state rivals South Dakota. Another loss and SDSU may be left out of the playoffs, which is crazy to think about since they were Top 3 in the preseason polls.

If the Hawks can win they could have an outside shot depending on other games around the country. We will look at that more in our pregame show that comes out Thursday.