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Senior quarterback Keaton Studsrud will be part of a 22-man senior class recognized in a special pre-game ceremony Saturday before kickoff vs. Eastern Washington.
Game Day: UND eyes more heroics on Senior Day
Release: 11/07/2017
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GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- The North Dakota football program will honor 22 current and former players that comprise the 2017 senior class in a special ceremony before Saturday’s contest with No. 19/21 Eastern Washington at the Alerus Center. Kickoff against the Eagles is set for 1 p.m. CT and will be televised on Midco Sports Network.


• UND has won its last six Senior Day contests dating back to the 2011 season, including a thrilling 38-31 victory over Northern Arizona last season that clinched a perfect league record and a share of the Big Sky title with the Eagles.
• The Fighting Hawks and Eagles did not meet during last year’s campaign and are playing for the first time since Eastern posted a 54-3 victory over UND back in 2014 (Nov. 1).
• UND will be looking for a different result this time around after suffering the program’s worst Division I loss on “The Inferno” that day.
• Senior captain Keaton Studsrud was a true freshman back then and earned his first career start in that contest after the two quarterbacks ahead of him on the depth chart suffered serious injuries the week before. He has not relinquished the reigns since and owns a 20-14 record as UND’s starting quarterback.
• The Eagles hold a 3-0 edge in the all-time series and have outscored UND 134-34. EWU’s only previous trip to Grand Forks resulted in a 35-17 win in 2013.
• These two teams were ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation in the STATS FCS preseason poll. The Eagles were ranked fifth, while the Fighting Hawks were ranked eighth after both went undefeated in Big Sky play in 2016.
• Despite back-to-back losses and a 5-4 overall record, the Eagles remained in the latest edition of both polls released Monday, falling to No. 19 in the STATS FCS poll and No. 21 in the FCS Coaches poll. 
• UND owns a 2-2 record at home this season and is 13-6 at the Alerus Center under the direction of head coach Bubba Schweigert.
• The Eagles will be the fifth overall and second-consecutive ranked team that UND has faced this season. The Fighting Hawks are still in search of that elusive win over a ranked-foe this season.  

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An 18-yard scoring strike from Keaton Studsrud to Noah Wanzek on the opening drive of the second half pulled UND within six points at 27-21, but that would be as close as the Fighting Hawks would get in Cedar City last Saturday. UND would turn the ball over four times the remainder of the way, allowing No. 17 Southern Utah to score the final 20 points and avoid the Fighting Hawks’ upset bid. The T-Birds also earned a share of the lead in the Big Sky standings with its fifth-straight win.

Here’s a list of the 22 current and former players along with some of their career accomplishments that will be honored in a special pre-game ceremony prior to kickoff:

4 Reid Taubenheim, PK (60 career field goals made, leads all currrent FCS players)
7 Keaton Studsrud, QB (34 career starts, 5,191 pass yards, 36 TDs, 633 rush yards, 11 TDs)
8 Cole Reyes, DB (2016 Big Sky DPOY, 33 career appearances, 225 total tackles, 19.0 TFLs)
17 Chuck Flowers, DB (31 career appearances, including 10 starts, racked up 95 total tackles)
23 Josh Seibel, WR (27 career appearances, 58 receptions, 548 yards and four TDs)
26 *Connor O’Brien, LB/Student Assistant (34 career appearances, 143 total tackles, 12.0 TFLs)
27 Oscar Nevermann, LB (13 career appearances, 17 total tackles, one fumble recovery)
40 *Jacob Francis, TE/Student Assistant (14 career appearances with one catch)
42 Kyle Norberg, FB (31 career appearances, 141 rushes for 554 yards and three TDs)
43 Drew Greely, DL (38 career apperances, seven sacks, 10.5 TFLs)
48 Jake Disterhaupt, LB (43 career appearance, 159 total tackles, including 20.0 TFLs)
61 Brandon Miller, OL (27 career appearances, including three starts at right guard)
72 Mat Cox, OL (31 career appearances, including 17 career starts at right tackle)
76 Dan Bell, OL (31 career apperances, including 13 starts at guard)
78 A.J. Stockwell, OL (33 career appearances, including 29 career starts; 26 of those at LT) 
82 Jacob Holmen, LS (45 career appearances at long snapper, 44-straight handling both duties)
83 Mitch Meindel, P (28 appearances,  set UND single-season record for ypp at 44.5; 2015)
85 Austin Dussold, P (Two-year starter at punter, averaging 41.1 ypp)
87 Stetson Carr, WR (25 career appearances, 14 receptions, 164 yards and two TDs)
89 De’mun Mercer, WR (21 career appearances, 64 receptions, 1,061 yards and five TDs)
90 Nick Schmitz, DL (27 career appearances, 22 total tackles, one sack and 1.5 TFLs)
99 Brandon Dranka, DL (44 appearance, 35 career starts, collected 10.5 sacks and 26.0 TFLs)
* retired from football after junior seasons in 2016 and spent 2017 season as student assistants

Junior running back John Santiago became just the fourth player in UND history to eclipse the 3,000-yard career rushing mark in the 48-21 victory at Portland State (Oct. 28). Santiago achieved the feat on his final carry of the game when we he picked up six yards on a fourth-quarter attempt. He moved into third place on UND’s all-time rushing list with his 115-yard effort at Southern Utah (Nov. 4), pushing his career total to 3,117 yards.

The play most people will remember from the Portland State game was an electrifying, 64-yard punt return for a touchdown that ended up being the No. 2 play in the FCS that week. Santiago made multilple defenders miss, starting and stopping along the way to secure UND’s first punt return for a touchdown since the 2014 season. Former cornerback Alex Tillman had that one also against Portland State when he broke a school-record with a 95-yard effort in a home win over the Vikings.

Junior John Santiago added 170 all-purpose yards to his season total in Saturday’s loss at Southern Utah, pushing his FCS-leading total in that category to 1,665 yards this season (see page four for a complete breakdown of Santiago’s staggering stats). His 166.5 ypg average is tied for the FCS lead as well. With those 170 yards, he moved to third on UND’s all-time list in that category and now has 5,424 all-purpose yards in his 31 career games. That total ranks 13th all-time in Big Sky history and 12 players ahead of him on the list all played in 40 or more games. Santiago has played in 33 to get to that figure.

For the second time this season, sophomore wide receiver Noah Wanzek hauled in a pair of touchdown passes in the same game after finishing the Southern Utah contest with eight catches for 107 yards. He currently leads the team with five touchdown grabs on the season and also paces the Fighting Hawks in receptions (46), receiving yards (589) and 100-yard receiving games (3). Those eight grabs equaled his career-high he set in UND’s last home game vs. Sacramento State (Oct. 21).

Anytime a team can score on all three phases of a game, a positive result is likely to follow and that was the case in UND’s 48-21 victory at Portland State (Oct. 28). What makes the feat even more impressive is the Fighting Hawks completed the trifecta in the third quarter after going into the half trailing 14-13. Junior John Santiago provided the offensive (13-yard rush) and special teams (64-yard punt return) touchdowns, while defensive end Austin Cieslak capped the trifecta with a 5-yard interception return for a score.

Redshirt freshman Jaxson Turner made his first career start a memorable one after finishing with a career-high eight tackles, including four tackles for loss and a sack at Portland State (Oct. 28). His individual efforts also led to both of UND’s defensive scores in the contest. He batted away a third-quarter pass attempt that fell right into the arms of teammate Austin Cieslak, who trotted into the end zone from five yards out. Then, his fourth-quarter strip sack was scooped up by Carter Wilson, who raced in from 50 yards out to cap the scoring in the 27-point victory. Turner was named an honorable mention honoree for STATS FCS National Freshman of the Week for his efforts.

The final honorary game captain of the 2017 season is Bill Leifur. A three-sport star during his time at UND from 1959-62, Leifur was inducted into the UND Athletics Hall of Fame in 1994. He was a captain on the 1961 football team and his gridiron squads were undefeated against NDSU. 

-- UND --

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