Keaton Studsrud threw two touchdown passes, and John Santiago ran for 101 yards on Saturday as North Dakota stayed unbeaten in Big Sky play with a 28-21 win over Idaho State.
Studsrud was 12-for-20 as the Fighting Hawks (6-2, 5-0; No. 16 FCS coaches’ poll, No. 19 media) extended their Big Sky winning streak to eight games and their overall streak to six.
“I’m really proud of our guys after a not-a-very-good start,” UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. “It was a much better second half. That’s why we’ve got to keep learning, keep teaching our guys.”
The Bengals took the early lead on an 11-yard pass from Tanner Gueller to KW Williams. The 15-yard scoring drive was set up by Hayden Stout’s (Meridian High) interception of a Studsrud pass. Gueller was 26-of-49 for 220 yards and three scores. Williams had eight catches for 62 yards.
“North Dakota is very good on defense. When they know what you are doing they sit on top of you. We have to continue to make plays,” Idaho State coach Mike Kramer said. “I thought we were pretty patient in what we called offensively we just didn’t execute the way we needed to against a football team who doesn’t give you many chances with the ball.”
Midway through the first half, Studsrud capped a 10-play, 71-yard scoring drive with a 1-yard sneak.
But with 10:27 left, Studsrud tossed a 28-yard TD pass to Travis Toivonen for a 14-7 lead.
Idaho State took less than 2 minutes to tie the game at 14. The Bengals’ Michael Dean caught a 38-yard TD pass from Gueller with 8:44 to play.
The Fighting Hawks put together the longest drive of the game, 78 yards, to take the lead. Brady Oliveira capped the 15-play drive with a 4-yard touchdown run with 6:46 left in the third quarter. Oliveira ran for 46 yards.
UND got an insurance touchdown when Studsrud hit Josh Seibel from 17 yards out early in the fourth quarter.
With 1:23 left, Williams caught a 17-yard TD pass from Gueller to cut the lead to 28-21.
But UND came up with a late stop the win its sixth straight game for the first time under Schweigert.
The Bengals (2-5, 1-3) have lost three straight games despite taking the game down to the wire. Mario Jenkins (Columbia High) had a season-high 12 tackles, and Hagen Graves (Skyview) matched his career high with seven receptions for 51 yards.