Idaho State upsets No. 22 UND in annual Potato Bowl
GRAND FORKS — On the opponent’s first offensive drive of the game, more than 11,000 homecoming and Potato Bowl fans at the Alerus Center caused two false starts.
The green and white fanbase, coming off a road upset of No. 5 Sam Houston and a shiny new Top 25 ranking, were fired up.
Then, a Bengal buzzkill….
Idaho State, strangely a UND nemesis, shutout the Fighting Hawks in the second half to deflate the program’s momentum and stun No. 22 UND 25-21 on Saturday evening.
“You want to protect home turf,” UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. “We just have to take advantage of those opportunities. It comes down to, can you handle it now? It’ll be a tough night for all of us. It’ll be a tough night for me, our players and our staff. They work hard and put a lot into this. You have to somehow move on. It’ll test your character, no question. We felt we missed an opportunity to keep momentum going.”
UND is 5-2 all-time against Idaho State but every matchup in the Division I era has been decided by one score. The last time the Bengals beat a ranked opponent on the road was 2015 when they beat UND on homecoming to eventually spoil UND’s playoff hopes that season.
“I don’t know what it is,” ISU coach Rob Phenicie said of the matchup. “The kids love this road trip. It’s a great atmosphere. I think our kids know, not that every opponent isn’t tough and physical, but coach Schweigert … it’s going to be a knock-down, drag-out. You’re not going to blow this team out. It doesn’t work that way.”
UND led 21-19 in the fourth quarter before ISU quarterback Tanner Gueller found brother Mitch Gueller for a 67-yard touchdown pass with 7:42 left. The ISU receiver escaped two tackles en route to the end zone.
UND’s Jaxson Turner blocked a field goal attempt in the closing minutes and UND drove deep into ISU territory. There would be no late magic, however, like the week before in a come-from-behind win at Sam Houston.
On a fourth-and-11 at the ISU 15, UND quarterback Nate Ketteringham was intercepted by Christian McFarland at the goal line. The Bengals ran out the clock to improve to 2-1. UND dropped to 2-2.
It was a surprising finish, especially considering the start. The Hawks jumped out to a 14-3 lead in the first quarter.
John Santiago, who finished with 111 rushing yards at an 8.5 average, started the scoring when he bolted for a 32-yard touchdown run with 9:40 left in the opening quarter.
UND wide receiver Travis Toivonen accounted for the Fighting Hawks’ second score. He caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Ketteringham and carried defenders into the end zone for a 14-3 lead with 2:10 remaining in the first quarter.
Ketteringham ended 19-for-38 for 224 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions — the first two of his UND career.
After UND led 14-6, a costly fumble in the red zone flipped momentum.
On first-and-goal from the 4, looking to go ahead 21-6, Ketteringham and Brady Oliveira mishandled an exchange.
Idaho State countered in a flash. The Bengals made it 14-13 with a 36-second, 80-play drive — capped by a James Madison 2-yard run.
“We had all that momentum up to that point,” Schweigert said. “They scored so quickly and that was what was disappointing.”
The Bengals took their first lead of the game shortly thereafter. Campbell Sheidow, who made his first four field-goal attempts, connected from 22 yards out to give Idaho State a 16-14 lead.
UND, however, was able to take the halftime lead on a Ketteringham-to-Noah Wanzek 46-yard touchdown connection.
Idaho State’s passing game has typically given UND’s defense fits, but it was the run game UND struggled with this time.
Idaho State’s ground game, led by Ty Flanagan’s 119 yards and James Madison’s 106, helped the Bengals outgain UND 273-245 on the ground.
“You have to make plays when you get the opportunity,” Schweigert said. “Our teams hurting. We’re disappointed. We think we can play better.”
UND plays at Northern Colorado on Saturday at 1 p.m.