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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Southern Utah exposes depleted UND secondary in first half

North Dakota running back John Santiago (22) carries the ball during the Saturday, Nov. 4, game against Southern Utah in Cedar City, Utah. Jordan Allred | The Spectrum

CEDAR CITY, Utah—The University of North Dakota defensive backfield has taken on its share of injuries this season, including season-ending injuries to stars Cole Reyes and Deion Harris.

The patchwork secondary was even thinner Saturday night, Nov. 4, against Southern Utah, as UND didn't have the services of safety Chuck Flowers, who received a targeting penalty in the final minute against Portland State last Saturday, Oct. 28.

With Flowers sitting out the first half due to the targeting penalty suspension, SUU quarterback Patrick Tyler took advantage.

Tyler was 21-for-26 in the first half for 240 passing yards and a touchdown as the Thunderbirds parlayed a 27-point first-half performance to a big win at Rice-Eccles Coliseum.

SUU finished the first half with 318 yards of total offense.

UND's defensive backfield started three freshmen, including two true freshmen, against the Thunderbirds.

The one non-freshman starter, sophomore cornerback Torrey Hunt, was injured defending an extra-point kick in the first half and missed some action but did return.

Altitude adjustment

UND stayed about 40 minutes away from Cedar City at a ski resort in Brian Head, Utah, on Friday night, Nov. 3.

UND rented out the ski resort, which isn't open yet for the season to skiing customers.

Some in the travel party had a difficult time adjusting to the elevation and needed to come down to Cedar City early Saturday.

Cedar City's elevation is 5,800 feet, while Brian Head is 9,800 feet.


Temperature at kickoff was about 55 degrees, with winds blowing at roughly 25 miles per hour.

UND starting left tackle Noah Mortel didn't travel to Utah with the team. He's back home in Wisconsin attending to a family matter.

UND started Bryce Blair at left tackle due to Mortel's absence and a last-minute sickness to A.J. Stockwell.

Tom Miller

Miller has been with the Grand Forks Herald sports department since 2004. He's also a Grand Forks native and UND graduate. 

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