South Dakota State Holds Off Late Charge to Beat North Dakota 35-28
South Dakota State jumped out to a 35-14 lead and then had to withstand a late rally from North Dakota to win in Grand Forks, 35-28 Saturday night.
There are 22 players on the field at any given time during a football game, but Saturday night in Grand Forks, two were grabbing most of the attention coming in.
South Dakota State running back Zach Zenner led the nation in rushing, while North Dakota wide receiver Greg Hardin already had 10 100-yard receiving games in his career coming in.
Neither disappointed. Zenner 37 carries for a school record 295 yards, while Hardin hauled in 7 catches for 207 yards and a pair of scores.
UND took the opening kickoff and marched 69 yards down the field, 52 of those to Hardin who had catches of 13 and and touchdown reception of 39 yards to put the home team up 7-0.
The Jacks offense put together a drive of their own later in the first as SDSU used four Zenner runs to pick up 44 yards, setting up an Austin Sumner to Jason Schneider 37-yard touchdown pass to make it 7-7. Schneider had 10 catches for 167 yards, and two touchdowns last week against Butler.
The South Dakota State defense, which grabbed three interceptions in the opener against Bulter, notched another one on UND’s next drive, when R.C. Kilgore picked off Ryan Bartels at the SDSU 30, returning it to the Jacks 47.
Six Zenner runs later, SDSU was back in the end zone, when Zenner went the final four yards to make it 14-7. 17 of South Dakota State’s first 20 plays were on the ground, as Zenner had 143 yards rushing in the first half.
After the Jacks defense forced another UND three-and-out, South Dakota State made it a two score lead going 83 yards in eight plays in just 2:51, as Sumner connected with four different receivers, with Zenner catching a 23 yard touchdown pass to make it 21-7 at the half.
The SDSU defense wasted no time in putting the Jacks back in business in the third quarter as they forced a Bartels on UND’s second play from scrimmage, and Tory Dibb recovered on the North Dakota 30.
After a personal foul moved the ball to the four, three runs later and Zenner was back in the end zone for the third time, after a one yard run to make it 28-7.
UND wasn’t quite done, and they showed off their quick strike ability when new quarterback Joe Mollberg hit Hardin for 73 yards to the SDSU 17. The next play it was Mollberg to Kenny Golladay for the final 17 yards and it was 28-14.
But while UND did its damage thru the air, SDSU was content to keep handing it to Zenner, and he broke another one one the next series, 46 yards, for his fourth touchdown of the game and the Jacks were back up 35-14.
In the fourth quarter, Hardin went over 20 yards receiving on the night when he pulled in his second touchdown catch, a 16-yarder, to make it 35-21.
An SDSU three-and-out and 23 yard punt later, UND was back in business as Mollberg led another touchdown drive, going 4 for 5, with Jameer Jackson scoring on a two-yard run to make it interesting at 35-28 with 5:25 to play.
North Dakota got the ball back one final time, with a chance to tie, with 2:19 left, but the Jacks defense stiffened, with Chase Douglas and Marshall Peugh combining on a sack of Mollberg, and then Jimmie Forsythe sealed the victory two plays later with an interception.
South Dakota State is 2-0, North Dakota falls to 1-1.
The Jackrabbits host Southeastern Louisiana next Saturday night at 6:00pm.