Last-second field goal lifts Montana over UND

The UND football team took another step toward gaining respect in the Football Championship Subdivision on Saturday afternoon. Still, that was a sour consolation prize. "It hurts," UND quarterback Joe Mollberg said. "That's a game we definitely g...

UND's Dev Ferguson catches a pass over Montana's Matt Hermanson on Saturday, Oct 4, 2014, at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. (Logan Werlinger/Grand Forks Herald)

The UND football team took another step toward gaining respect in the Football Championship Subdivision on Saturday afternoon.

Still, that was a sour consolation prize.

“It hurts,” UND quarterback Joe Mollberg said. “That’s a game we definitely gave away. That’s the No. 7 team in the nation, and we just outplayed them the entire game.”

Montana kicker Daniel Sullivan’s 35-yard field goal as time expired sealed the Grizzlies’ 18-15 victory over UND before 9,025 fans at the Alerus Center.

Montana’s game-winner was especially disappointing for UND because it had a chance of its own to win late in the fourth quarter.


With 1 minute, 11 seconds left and the game tied at 15, left-footed true freshman kicker Reid Taubenheim had a 40-yard field goal attempt blocked.

“We had a little trouble with the snap,” UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. “We’ve got to give Reid a chance to kick that. We have to execute better.”

UND’s defense certainly wasn’t to blame against the Griz. UND limited Montana, which lost quarterback Jordan Johnson to a leg injury in the first half, to 279 yards of total offense. Montana was held to 42 rushing yards on 34 carries. Talented running back Travon Van finished with 11 carries for 0 yards.

“The University of North Dakota came to play,” Montana coach Mick Delaney said. “Coach Schweigert has got this team turned around. They played very, very well on defense. And we knew they would. They’ve been playing good defense all season. They got enough offense going there in the second half to make it the game it was. It was a tough, tough football game.”

The UND defense also provided some scoring as cornerback Chris Brown set up the wild finish with a 14-yard interception return for a touchdown with 5:49 remaining. Brown jumped a short out route and cruised into the end zone.

Brown’s score cut the Montana lead to 15-13. UND evened the score on the ensuing 2-point conversion when Mollberg - as he was being pulled to the turf - fired a pass in the end zone to backup tight end Luke Mathewson.

However, Brown was on the wrong end of Montana’s key play to set up the winning field goal. After the Taubenehim blocked kick, Griz backup quarterback Shay Smithwick-Hann hit Jamaal Jones for a 46-yard pass with Brown in coverage in the final minute.

“We would have liked Chris to play that more aggressively,” Schweigert said. “In college football, pass interference isn’t a bad play. We have to play that situation better and extend the game.”


UND’s offense, which achieved only 12 first downs, finished with 241 yards of total offense, with 196 of those yards coming through the air.

But the offense didn’t find its groove until hurry-up mode in the fourth quarter. UND trailed 8-0 at halftime and 15-0 after three quarters.

Kyle Norberg led the ground attack with 23 carries for 73 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown run with 6:37 left in the game.

Mollberg’s top target was R.J. McGill, who grabbed five balls for 53 yards. Dev Ferguson also caught three passes for 65 yards.

Mollberg said he can’t pinpoint UND’s offensive struggles outside of the hurry-up offense.

“That’s a great question, and I guess we’re still trying to figure that out,” Mollberg said. “When we don’t kick ourselves, we’re a good offense and can move the ball. When we kick ourselves, it’s a whole other offense out there. We need to eliminate those mistakes because, dang, our defense is real good right now.”

UND dropped to 2-4 overall, while Montana takes a 4-2 mark into a bye week.

“It’s tough for how hard we fought as a team,” said UND safety Cole Reyes, who finished with a team-high nine tackles. “We’re tired of these close games. We want to finish them out.” 


Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019 and 2022.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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