Idaho State has given the University of North Dakota football team problems over the years.
UND exorcised some of those demons on Saturday. The No. 8-ranked team in FCS went into Pocatello, and defeated the Bengals 35-14.
Otis Weah rushed for 114 yards and three touchdowns, Tommy Schuster completed 14 of 18 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown and the North Dakota defense stymied Idaho State’s passing game.
Tyler Vander Waal completed 19 of 43 passes for 229 yards and a TD but the Idaho State quarterback was intercepted three times, two of them setting up scores for North Dakota.
Hayden Galvin picked off a Vander Waal pass on the Bengals’ first possession, giving North Dakota the ball on the ISU 32. Four plays later, Weah scored from 1 yard out for a 7-0 lead.
North Dakota added an Adam Stage field goal in the second quarter, but Idaho State got on the board on a Malakai Rango 1-yard run with 18 seconds left in the first half, pulling the Bengals within 10-7 at the half.
UND drove 72 yards in 19 plays with Tommy Schuster connecting with Adam Zavalney on a 22-yard scoring strike on the opening possession of the second half to regain control.
“Scoring first was important, especially when we gave up the late score in the first half. We needed to come out and our guys executed,” UND head coach Bubba Schweigert said.
Ray Haas picked off Vander Waal on a third-and-long on the ensuing possession and UND scored quickly. Schuster hit Marcus Preston on a 19-yard pass to the Bengals 15 and Weah did the rest, scoring his second TD of the game to make it 24-7.
North Dakota turned the ball over deep in its own end late in the third quarter, but Evan Holm picked off a Vander Waal pass at the UND 5 and returned it 64 yards to the Idaho State 31. That led to a 26-yard Stage field goal and a 27-7 lead.
“Two game-changing plays – the interception set up the first score and then when we turned it over, we get it right back with the pick by Evan,” Schweigert said. “Our guys did a good job with that, we hung in there defensively. They’ve got good receivers. We let (Tanner Conner) get away there on the last score they had, disappointing, but he’s pretty good.”
Vander Waal connected with Conner on a 31-yard TD pass with 10:22 remaining, but Weah’s third touchdown of the day, a 1-yarder with 2:43 left, made it 35-21.
UND had lost three times to the Bengals since 2015, including a 55-20 setback in 2019.
“Lots of improving to do,” Schweigert said. “We had trouble with the snap, some discipline penalties that stopped some drives. We should get better and we’re going to challenge our guys to get better.”