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UND defenders assist linebacker Cordero Finley on a sack of Valpo quarterback Eric Hoffman in the first half of Thursday's opening game. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
UND defenders assist linebacker Cordero Finley on a sack of Valpo quarterback Eric Hoffman in the first half of Thursday's opening game. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

UND throttles Valpo as Mollberg sees 1st action

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UND’s motto throughout fall camp was “Brick by Brick,” a reference to building a solid season from the ground up.

It was clear that the foundation for a successful UND season is in place after North Dakota — as expected — rolled past Valparaiso 69-10 on Thursday night in the season opener before 9,269 fans at the Alerus Center.

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Now, the question is this: Will UND’s foundation be solid enough to withstand a schedule that will bring four straight top-20 FCS teams to North Dakota’s home field?

Then, there is the matter of the demanding road life in the Big Sky Conference.

But those questions will have to wait as UND took time to celebrate its 24th straight home-opening win.

“For our first game, I would have never guessed the score would have been like that,” UND coach Chris Mussman said.

But it was, due to UND’s high number of skill players — mainly quarterback Ryan Bartels and receivers Greg Hardin and Kenny Golladay.

The brightest spotlight, however, was on Bartels, who was making his collegiate debut as the starting quarterback for a Division I program.

On Bartels’ first snap, he fired a picture-perfect 75-yard touchdown pass to the all-American Hardin, who had another monster game with 5 receptions for 163 yards.

And he also returned the second half kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.

Golladay, meanwhile, had more electrifying plays for UND, as he returned a Valpo punt 64 yards for a score six minutes into the game.

Hardin and Golladay’s back-breaking plays ended any doubt, allowing UND to play in a comfort zone in anticipation of preparing for next week’s showdown against No. 6 South Dakota State.

The Bartels-to-Hardin TD pass was scripted earlier in the week in practice.

“When I found out that was going to be the first play, I was pretty excited,” Bartels said. “I had trouble sleeping last night. I had some nerves at first, but as the game progressed, I felt more comfortable. The offensive line let me sit in the pocket and make reads.”

Hardin said he was impressed with Bartels, who edged Joe Mollberg in fall camp for the starting job.

“He did really good,” said Hardin. “I remember my first game as a freshman. I was super nervous. And he had a lot more responsibility than I did.”

As expected, Mollberg did play and the redshirt freshman also posted solid numbers, completing 6-of-7 passes for 74 yards.

UND is expected to use two quarterbacks again next week against the Jackrabbits.

“You’ll continue to see both of them, Mussman said.

UND racked up 541 yards of offense and held Valpo — a non-scholarship team — to 174 yards. UND was balanced offensively, rushing for 255 yards and throwing for 286.

There wasn’t much for UND to complain about.

“We played with high intensity,” said UND running back Jake Miller.

Wayne Nelson | Forum News Service

Valparaiso        0 0 10  0 – 10

UND         21 14 14 20 – 69

First Quarter

NDAK – Hardin 75 pass from Bartels (Z.Miller kick), 11:05.

NDAK – Golladay 64 punt return (Z.Miller kick), 9:14.

NDAK – J.Miller 14 run (Z.Miller kick), :32.

Second Quarter

NDAK – J.Miller 8 run (Z.Miller kick), 12:22.

NDAK – Shaugabay 3 run (Z.Miller kick), :16.

Third Quarter

NDAK – Hardin 90 kickoff return (Z.Miller kick), 14:49.

Valp – FG Young 36, 11:51.

NDAK – J.Miller 11 run (Z.Miller kick), 6:03.

Valp – Gladney 41 pass from Lehman (Newman kick), 2:06.

Fourth Quarter

NDAK – Shaugabay 6 run (Z.Miller kick), 12:07.

NDAK – Shaugabay 2 run (Z.Miller kick), 9:33.

NDAK – FG Z.Miller 40, 4:00.

NDAK – FG Z.Miller 34, :36.

Attendance – 9,269

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: Valparaiso, Hutson 20-72, Hall 6-24, Lehman 4-9, Hoffman 2-7, Team 2-(minus 31). North Dakota, J.Miller 17-108, Sparks 7-64, Garman 9-42, Meindel 1-17, Shaugabay 5-16, Varner 2-4, Iverson 2-3, Bartels 2-1, Mollberg 1-0.

PASSING: Valparaiso, Hoffman 6-20-0-41, Lehman 3-3-0-52. North Dakota, Bartels 10-12-0-212, Mollberg 6-7-0-74.

RECEIVING: Valparaiso, Hutson 3-28, Gladney 2-43, Marcott 2-10, Taibi 1-8, Hall 1-4. North Dakota, Hardin 5-163, Golladay 5-58, Bridges 3-31, Townsend 1-18, J.Miller 1-11, Young 1-5.

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