GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) – Greg Hardin caught an 11-yard TD pass late in the fourth quarter as North Dakota snapped a five-game home losing streak with a 24-21 Big Sky Conference win over Northern Colorado Saturday.
UND (3-7, 2-5 Big Sky) trailed 21-16 with 4:53 to go. Dominique Bennett forced a Bears fumble and UND took possession on the Northern Colorado 31.
Ryan Bartels led a five-play, 31-yard drive that ended with Bartels and Hardin connecting on the winning score and a successful two-point conversion with 2:51 left on the clock.
UND’s Will Lewis intercepted Bears’ quarterback Seth Lobato’s pass in the end zone as North Dakota finished its home schedule 1-6.
“It feels really good,” North Dakota coach Chris Mussman said. “Our defense was resilient in the second half, one to ice the game and one to take the lead. Our kids just kept battling.”
Lobato completed 18 of 33 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns. He tossed scoring passes of 23 and 35 yards to Will Jefferson and scored on a 1-yard run. The Bears’ first scoring drive was kept alive on third-and-26 when Lobato passed to Tromaine Dennis for 35 yards.
Jefferson caught eight passes for 171 yards. Dennis ran for 101 yards but his fumble late in the game set up UND’s winning drive.
“We finally got the breaks to go our way,” Mussman said.
Bartels accounted for nearly all of the UND offense. He was 31-for-47 for 344 yards and a 31-yard TD to Kenny Golladay in the third quarter.
North Dakota won despite two turnovers and 4 yards rushing.
“We’re missing here and there, but we got a win and that’s what’s most important.”
North Dakota’s Adam Shaugabay scored on a 1-yard run with 13:34 left in the half, but the PAT failed when the snap went high and Northern Colorado (1-9, 0-6) held a 7-6 lead at the break.
Back-to-back TD passes to Jefferson stretched the lead to 21-6 early in the third quarter.
But UND came back, beginning with Zeb Miller’s 26-yard field goal.
UND receiver Jameer Jackson caught a game-high 11 passes for 89 yards.
Hardin caught his 205th career pass for the best regular-season total in UND program history and broke the school record for career receiving yards (now 3,404 yards).
Weston Dressler, now an all-Canadian Football League player for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, had held the records since the 2007 season.
– By JAMES PURSLEY, AP Writer
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