Southern Utah tops North Dakota 35-17

CEDAR CITY, Utah (AP) Southern Utah quarterback Ammon Olsen was nearly perfect Saturday in a 35-17 Big Sky Conference win over North Dakota.

Olsen, a junior transfer from Brigham Young University, completed 21 of 23 passes for 299 yards and four touchdowns. He also had a touchdown run for the Thunderbirds (2-7, 1-3).

Olsen's 4-yard TD pass to Naia Ursua on the Thunderbirds' first possession set the tone and North Dakota never did recover.

''I thought we played on our heels a little bit,'' North Dakota coach Bubba Schweigert said. ''You can't play this game that way. You've got to be an attacker on defense. If you play on your heels, you aren't going to make any plays.''

Olsen made plays all game long.

He followed up his short TD pass with a 4-yard touchdown run and a 2-yard scoring toss to Mitch Jessop for a 21-3 halftime lead.

''We didn't tackle well on defense, and usually when you don't tackle well you just aren't emotionally ready.''

North Dakota's only response on offense was a 30-yard field goal by Reid Taubenheim in the first quarter.

North Dakota (3-5, 1-3) rallied with two Jer Garman touchdowns to get within 21-17. Garman, who ran for a career-best 112 yards on 26 carries, scored on runs of 12 and 1 yard with 14:30 to play.

Garman said the day was bittersweet.

''It feels good. It's been about three years I've been waiting for a big conference game to make some plays,'' Garman said.

''We got out to a decent start and we had a fumble. It builds momentum for them and they're feeding off our energy. You can't have that in the Big Sky.''

Olsen replied to the North Dakota threat with a 37-yard scoring pass to Mike Sharp and an 87-yard toss to Raysean Pringle.

Sharp had four catches for 84 yards and Pringle two catches for 96.

Southern Utah rushed for just 89 yards.

North Dakota outgained the Thunderbirds 404-398 in total yards, but lost a fumble and Ryan Bartels was intercepted twice.

For the second time this season, Bartels came on in relief after starting quarterback Joe Mollberg was hurt. Bartels was 23-for-44 for 297 yards. His favorite targets were Josh Seibel, who had nine catches for 96 yards, and tight end Zach Adler, with four catches for 87 yards.

North Dakota has yet to win back-to-back games under Schweitzer and had its two-game winning streak against Southern Utah snapped.

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