North Dakota Edges Thunderbirds, 33-29

November 03, 2012
By SUU Strategic Communication

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Fatu Moala
Fatu Moala
Courtesy: Deb Hill

GRAND FORKS, N.D., Nov. 3 - North Dakota came back from a 15-0 first half deficit to outlast Southern Utah 33-29 in Big Sky play Saturday. The loss dropped the Thunderbirds to 4-6 overall and 3-4 in Big Sky play while UND improved to 5-5 and 3-4 in league games.

After SUU jumped out to a 15-0 lead ad held a 22-13 lead at the break UND dominated the third period, out-gaining SUU 113-30 and taking a 26-22 lead on a five-yard Mitch Sutton touchdown run with 2:43 to play in the quarter.

SUU went back on top 29-26 when Henna Brown took a Brad Sorensen pass 15 yards for a touchdown with 11:30 to play, but UND answered quickly.

After a short kickoff North Dakota put together a three-play, 65-yard drive and cashed in when Jake Miller ran 36 yards around the left end for a 33-29 UND advantage.

SUU drove inside the UND 30 on its ensuing possession, but Sorensen was sacked and fumbled with less than a minute to go. Even though SUU was able to force UND to punt, the T-Birds got the ball back with just 26 seconds to play and a last-ditch hail Mary was knocked down in the end zone.

Southern Utah scored the first 15 points of the game on a 35-yard Colton Cook field goal, a 32-yard TD pass from Sorensen to Moala and a five-yard Brian Wilson run. After Moala's touchdown Cook's extra point attempt hit the upright, so following Wilson's score the T-Birds opted to go for two but the pitchout to Wilson came up short.  

UND quickly got back into the game, however, as Greg Hardin  returned the kickoff following Wilson's score 98 yards for a touchdown, and after SUU went three-and-out on its ensuing possession UND drove 77 yards in 12 plays to pull within 15-13 when Mitch Sutton ran one yard with 2:03 to play in the half. Ironically, UND missed its PAT attempt as well after the holder couldn't handle the snap.

SUU answered with a quick score to take a 22-13 lead into halftime, however. After Sorensen found Easton Pedersen on a 64-yard pass to put the ball at the UND four Myles Crawford-Harris took it the rest of the way to put SUU up by nine at the break.

Big plays aided each of Southern Utah's first-half scores. In addition to the 64-yard pass to Pedersen and Moala's long touchdown, 45-yard and 63-yard passes from Sorensen to Moala set up the Thunderbirds' second and third scores, and the field goal came after an off-side penalty gave Cook a second chance after he missed from 40-yards out.

SUU wound up with a season-high 520 yards of offense, including 363 through the air and 157 on the ground and limited North Dakota to 308 yards. Wilson rushed for a career-high 156 yards.

-- SUU --