UND falls 47-21 at Southern Utah in Big Sky game
CEDAR CITY, Utah—The University of North Dakota's football team wanted to prove it could beat a Top 25 program on the road.
The Fighting Hawks were out to show the young, injury-riddled team had turned a corner after gaining experience throughout the year.
On Saturday night at Eccles Coliseum, however, UND's performance was disappointingly familiar during this rocky 2017 season.
UND's defense couldn't stop the run or the pass as No. 17 Southern Utah racked up 494 yards of total offense in a 47-21 Big Sky Conference victory in front of 7,641.
"We look for improvement in those areas, and we don't seem to be getting the improvement we need," UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. "We need to take a good, hard look here. We have one more opportunity to get better and that's what we're going to do."
Southern Utah, led by Patrick Tyler's 310 passing yards, won its fifth straight and seventh overall, likely securing a spot in the FCS playoffs. SUU is now 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the Big Sky.
UND, the preseason Big Sky favorite, continues to fall on tough times. The Fighting Hawks were unable to build on last Saturday's first road win of the season at Portland State. UND, which dropped to 3-7 and 2-5 in the Big Sky, will now finish with the program's worst record under Schweigert, who took over four seasons ago after Chris Mussman's 2013 team finished 3-8.
UND gave up more than 40 points for the fifth time this season.
"We just lost focus and hit a wall," UND linebacker Cam Hunt said. "We need to bounce back. We have to figure out something."
Other than a brief moment in the second half when UND pulled to within six on Noah Wanzek's second touchdown catch of the game, SUU led comfortably.
A key sequence came late in the first half after Southern Utah took a 27-14 lead on a Tyler-to-Alex Croyle 13-yard touchdown pass.
UND responded with a deep drive inside the SUU 10. The Fighting Hawks faced a second-and-2 from the 7 and failed to pick up the first down.
UND ran back-to-back quarterback sneaks on third-and-1 and fourth-and-1, keeping the SUU lead to two scores.
"There were a few plays in the second half that slowed our momentum down," Studsrud said. "Those turnovers hurt us, and you can put that on me. You can't do that against a good team."
UND was led by John Santiago, who had 10 carries for 115 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Keaton Studsrud was 19-for-25 passing for 230 yards and two touchdowns. He also had two interceptions.
Wanzek was Studsrud's top target with eight grabs for 107 yards and two touchdowns.