GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) Freshman running back John Santiago ran for a career-high 152 yards and two touchdowns as North Dakota opened the Big Sky Conference with a 31-24 win over UC-Davis on Saturday.
Santiago scored on a 6-yard run and caught a 2-yard TD pass from Keaton Studsrud as North Dakota (3-1, 1-0 Big Sky) took advantage of a series of UC Davis (0-4, 0-1) mistakes. UND scored two touchdowns after turnovers, another following a 13-yard punt, and a field goal after a kickoff went out of bounds.
Studsrud completed 8 of 19 passes for 58 yards, including two TDs. He ran for 59 of North Dakota's 240 rushing yards. North Dakota had just four yards rushing in last week's loss to North Dakota State.
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''We ran the ball really well,'' UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. ''We stayed on guys and ran the quarterback a little bit. Good job by the offensive guys. We needed to control the ball and we were able to do that and that really helped.''
Defensively, senior linebacker Will Ratelle made 15 tackles while helping hold the Aggies to just 58 yards on the ground and 298 yards total.
North Dakota scored twice in the first seven minutes on Santiago's run and Zach Adler's leaping 4-yard scoring catch. Santiago's run on the game's opening possession capped a 54-yard drive.
The Aggies answered on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Ben Scott to Chris Martin. Scott was 14 of 20 for 174 yards and three scores. Martin had two catches for 47 yards, both for TDs. The pair also hooked up on a 20-yarder late in the third quarter.
Martin played a key role in perhaps the biggest play of the game. With the Aggies trailing 14-10 in the second quarter, he fumbled on a 49-yard punt return, recovered by North Dakota. Eleven plays later, UND scored to take a 21-10.
Scott's third TD pass was a 2-yard strike to Alex Cannon that made it a seven-point game with 6:12 to play.
UND took the ensuing kickoff and ran out the clock, bleeding the final six minutes on a 10-play drive
''Our guys did a good job controlling the ball and not giving them the ball back,'' Schweigert said of the final drive.
AP College Football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org