GRAND FORKS, N.D. – After a 14-7 Thunderbird lead to start the game, the North Dakota Fighting Hawks rallied to secure a 45-23 Homecoming victory.
“We’re just trying to get better. We’ve gotta do a better job of getting these guys prepared to play 60 minutes,” head coach Demario Warren said. “We’ll keep working. That’s one thing we promise.”
Thunderbird highlights from the loss include Raysean Pringle’s 97-yard kickoff return and a 68-yard touchdown from Brady Measom. Tate Lewis punted four times for 195 yards, averaging 48.8 yards per punt. His longest of the game was a 66 yarder.
Junior Tufuga led SUU defensively with 10 tackles, seven solo and three assisted. Tyler Collet and Kyle Tauiliili added nine and eight tackles respectively. The T-Bird defense posted five tackles for a loss of 27 yards.
The Fighting Hawks finished with 537 yards of total offense on 39:36 minutes of possession time, compared to the Thunderbirds’ 356 yards on 20:24 minutes of possession.
UND tacked up the first touchdown of the game on a 9-yard pass from Keaton Studsrud to Luke Stanley before the Thunderbirds quickly answered as Pringle ran 97 yards for a kickoff return touchdown.
Southern Utah’s Patrick Tyler completed a short pass to Measom who took it 68 yards for a Thunderbird touchdown to give SUU a 14-7 edge to round out the first quarter.
The Fighting Hawks’ rally began early in the second quarter as UND punched in back-to-back touchdowns to regain its lead at 21-14. Keita Calhoun knocked in SUU’s only points of the second quarter with a 27-yard field goal. Wrapping up the first half scoring, UND’s Studsrud connected with Noah Wanzek on a 7-yard pass to give the Hawks a 28-17 lead at halftime.
The Thunderbirds etched in their only second half touchdown early in the third quarter as Tyler found Mike Sharp for a 31-yard passing touchdown. UND posted three straight touchdowns to break away from SUU for a 45-23 victory.
Southern Utah returns home this weekend, hosting Weber State on Saturday, Oct. 22 as the Thunderbirds aim to stretch their home winning streak to nine. The game kicks off at 6 p.m. in Eccles Coliseum.