Bulldogs throttle MSU-Moorhead on Military Appreciation Night

Photo by: Karli Kruse.

Photo by: Karli Kruse.

It was the home opener of the 2018-19 football season for the Bulldogs as they routed the Minnesota-State Moorhead Dragons 60 to 7. The Bulldogs were dominant on both sides of the ball, outscoring the Dragons 580 to 194 in total yards.

Sophomore quarterback John Larson threw for 281 yards and a career-high five touchdown passes, along with adding 90 yards rushing and another touchdown on the ground. Larson’s go-to target was senior wide receiver Jason Balts who caught six passes for 119 yards and three touchdowns, including a 73 yard one in the first quarter.

Defensively the Bulldogs came to play as they recorded six sacks and recovered two forced fumbles, while limiting the Dragons offense to only 3.2 yards-per-play.

Everyone was making plays on both sides of the ball. The Bulldogs had five different players score touchdowns, while having ten players record a tackle for loss. Lead by senior-captain linebacker AJ Naatz, who had three tackles for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble.

Jason Balts scores one of his three touchdowns in the first quarter during Saturday’s game. Photo by: Karli Kruse.

Jason Balts scores one of his three touchdowns in the first quarter during Saturday’s game. Photo by: Karli Kruse.

The Bulldogs have outscored opponents 109 to 10, the most points scored through two games in program history. Head coach Curt Wiese attributes the success to start the season on the comradery among teammates.

“Our guys are playing with a lot of confidence right now,” Wiese said, “we’ve been able to feed off one another offensively and defensively. That was a really good effort tonight, our kids played fast they played confident from the first kick of the football game.”

The only blemish on what was almost a perfect night of football were the penalties. The Bulldogs had eight penalties accepted against them for 146 yards, including multiple facemasks and an unsportsmanlike conduct call. Those are lazy penalties for a team as talented as the Bulldogs. Coach Wiese said that he liked the aggressiveness the players showed.

“Some of our penalties were aggressive penalties,” Wiese said, “those are things we can correct this week and clean up on film. When we’re playing hard, some of those penalties are from playing fast and playing hard. We’ll get it corrected and move on.”

It was also Military Appreciation night at the game, with multiple branches of the military being represented. There was 5,132 people in attendance out to show their support.

Lt. Davan Scott of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps and Duluth native, likes how UMD has supported the military throughout the years through events like the football game.

Scott was appointed Commanding Officer of the Twin Ports branch of the Cadet Corps in 2012 after returning from active duty in 2010. From left: BN3 Kaela Haslitt, HMSN Jessie Van Kekerix, QMSN Ethan Rentschler, MASA Alexander Brownie, DCFN Courdin Nelson-Scaggs, HM3 Keegan Tribbey, ENFR Andrew Truscott, and Lt. Davan Scott. Photo by: Karli Kruse.

Scott was appointed Commanding Officer of the Twin Ports branch of the Cadet Corps in 2012 after returning from active duty in 2010. From left: BN3 Kaela Haslitt, HMSN Jessie Van Kekerix, QMSN Ethan Rentschler, MASA Alexander Brownie, DCFN Courdin Nelson-Scaggs, HM3 Keegan Tribbey, ENFR Andrew Truscott, and Lt. Davan Scott. Photo by: Karli Kruse.

“I think it’s great,” Scott said, “you guys are really good at showing support for the different branches of the military. I’ve been coming to these kinds of events for a long time and the hospitality you can’t beat it. Everybody’s friendly, it makes us feel really appreciated and it’s neat that people like that are still doing that.”

Up next the Bulldogs will take on the St.Cloud State Huskies Thursday night in St. Cloud. Although the Bulldogs have been dominant through their first two games, Wiese says that it’s important they soak it up, but that next week is all business.

“It’s our job to turn the page tomorrow,” Wiese said, “we got to make sure we continue to play focused and be a focused football team. We’re going to enjoy this one tonight and have a quick turnaround Sunday.”