The UND Football victory over Northern Colorado felt good. At this point of the season and with the records of both teams going into the game. Honestly... It was just a game on the schedule. Neither team is going to be playing any playoff football. This was a game on the schedule to be played and the result mattered to the players who work hard in practice every day and show up to play like the result matters. For the players and coaches... The win felt good I'm sure.
The Crowd was light... I've noticed lighter crowds every year around this time... by this time... I mean deer hunting time. On Saturday... The Crowd was as light as I've seen it. It wasn't just deer hunting or the North Dakota wind that bugged you as you walked from the car to the Alerus that thinned the crowd to this extent. Let's be honest... The main problem was a string of better attended large home losses. South Dakota State, Montana, Montana State, Eastern Washington and Sacremento State. The Game wasn't important to the fans who didn't attend but to win a game at home this year did matter to the team and for those of us who showed up.
There was a weird moment in the game at the beginning of the 2nd half. A special teams breakdown... maybe?... A moment that had all the potential to be a game changing moment.
UND started the 2nd half with the ball and down 7-6. They drove to 34 yard line and were stopped. Zeb Miller came on to attempt a 51 yard FG for UND and the kick was blocked. In typical fashion after a blocked kick... You see a lot of Northern Colorado players motioning and I assume yelling to stay away from the ball. If they touch it... UND could recover the ball and keep possession. So... Everyone just kind of stood around... away from the ball. This included UND players and I'm not sure why UND players were standing around exactly. I can't be sure but I think a few of them were actually walking off the field assuming that the play was over. I don't know if they were walking off the field or not because I assumed the play was over as well... because everyone was standing around and the ball was just kind of rolling to a stop.
One player from Northern Colorado just decided to pick up the ball and start running and the ball is live so it is completely within his right to pick up the ball and start running. He took off toward the Northern Colorado sideline which was smart because most of the UND team was near the UND Sideline. I assume they were all near the UND sideline because I assume...They were walking off the field.
I know... it's a lot of assumptions being made by me. I honestly don't know... I was watching the ball roll to a near stop when all of sudden they started running with the ball. The end result was a 40 plus yard return on a blocked FG and a very short field for Northern Colorado that produced a touchdown and a 14-6 lead. When Northern Colorado scored again shortly after for a 21-6 lead. It looked like that special teams breakdown was going to be a key moment in another loss.
Thankfully... UND came back. That sharp momentum shift didn't seal anything. UND fought back and won it.
Greg Hardin set a couple of records in the game. He is the new all time career leader in receptions and receiving yards after breaking both records during the game. It was Greg's final home game and while I don't want to ignore the other seniors who played their final game at the Alerus Center. I do want to specifically mention Greg. Greg has been a special talent and perhaps the finest WR I've seen wear the Green and White. It's been a complete treat to watch him play. He has hands and he has that extra gear that very few have. Greg Hardin #84. The best WR in the Big Sky and everyone in the Big Sky knows it.