GRAND FORKS, North Dakota — Every week is a career week for North Dakota freshman running back John Santiago.
Santiago ran for a career-high 230 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winning 4-yard run with 1:41 left, as UND beat Montana State 44-38 in the Big Sky Conference.
UND, which snapped a three-game losing streak, drove 80 yards in five plays and was helped by a facemask penalty on the game-winning drive. Brady Oliveira's 28-yard run down to the MSU 4 set up Santiago's touchdown. Oliveira had 167 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
"I was pleased with the offensive line," Santiago said. "Credit to them, they played phenomenal the whole game. All I had to do was make one read and the hole was there every time."
As a team, UND rolled up 548 total yards, with 426 on the ground.
North Dakota made some key defensive plays in the fourth quarter, including Jake Disterhaupt knocking down a pass on fourth down that sealed the win.
"We got some turnovers and that big fourth-down stop," UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. "We got after the quarterback in the fourth quarter and that helped our chances. Then offensively we scored a lot of points and ran the ball well again."
The teams combined for 28 points in the first quarter alone.
Santiago broke free around right end and raced 45 yards for a touchdown that gave North Dakota a 7-0 lead with 9:18 left in the first half. He later ran for scores of 75 and 4 yards.
Montana State answered exactly one minute later on a 61-yard lateral pass from Mitch Griebel to Manny Kalfell to make it 7-7.
Oliviera scored his first touchdown on a 30-yard run 59 seconds after Kalfell's score.
UND quarterback Keaton Studsrud and receiver Clive Georges returned to the lineup after missing games to injuries. They hooked up on a 53-yard TD with 4:22 left in the first quarter for a 21-7 lead and a 21-yarder for a 38-31 lead late in the game.
Montana State tied five times, but never led.
Dakota Prukop threw a 13-yard TD pass to Mitchell Herbert just five seconds into the second quarter. Then, MSU's Taylor Sheridan sacked Studsrud and forced a fumble on the UND 39. Two plays later, Jayshawn Gates ran 39 yards to tie the game 21-21 with 11:46 left in the half.
And the points kept coming.
UND's Reid Taubenheim kicked a 44-yard field goal; MSU's Luke Daly kicked a 24-yard field goal; and Santiago scored on a 75-yard run.
UND took a 31-24 lead into half.
Prukop was 29-for-40 for 224 yards and two TDs. He ran for 65 yards and a score.
In the third quarter, Prukop marched the Bobcats 65 yards and scored on a 3-yard keeper to tie the game 31-31. Prukop completed 8 of 10 passes on the drive.
UND needed less than three minutes to go back on top on Georges' second TD catch, a 21-yarder to make it 38-31.
Montana State again tied it on Prukop's 1-yard pass to Beau Sandland with 12:38 to play.
UND went ahead for good on Santiago's last TD.
"Against teams like this you gotta find ways to get stops," Schweigert said. "(And) we scored a lot of points and ran the ball well again."