Dogs show their teeth in 20-14 “Battle for the Bone” victory over St. Cloud State
DULUTH, MN. -- The 13th ranked UMD football team put another victory in the record books on Saturday night at Malosky Stadium, defeating the St. Cloud State Huskies 20-14. The dogs, who stretched their NSIC winning streak to 22 games with the triumph, improved to 7-0 all-time against the Huskies under current head coach Curt Wiese.
After a lightning delay pushed kickoff back nearly an hour, football activities finally commenced, and quickly went sour for the Bulldogs. On the first play from scrimmage, quarterback John Larson took a shot down the field and was intercepted by Husky defensive back Payton Conrad. The interception would set the tone for the rest of the first quarter, one filled with punts, turnovers, and no scoring.
It would take over five minutes into the second quarter for the Bulldogs to break the ice on a two yard touchdown pass from Larson to sophomore wide receiver Kurtis Weigand. The score, which following the extra point put UMD up 7-0, capped off the first impressive drive for either team in the contest.
After a Logan Eiden interception gave UMD the ball back, the dogs put more points on the board, this time on a 27 yard field goal by senior kicker Dan Branger. The kick gave the Bulldogs a 10-0 lead with less than four minutes left in the first half.
The defense would give the dogs a chance to add more points before the half, forcing another Husky punt with just over two minutes left, but the offense faltered and the first half came to a close with the Bulldogs holding a 10-0 advantage.
The second half began much like the first, with both teams trading punts early. After forcing a St. Cloud punt with just under nine minutes left in the 3rd quarter, UMD found themselves threatening to score once more, this time following a 33 yard scamper by Larson which brought the ball down to the Husky seven yard line. After failing to connect on three different attempts to the end zone, the dogs would settle for a 24 yard Branger field goal. On the attempt the Huskies were called for a running into the kicker penalty, giving the Bulldog drive new life at the St. Cloud State two yard line.
The offense would not squander the second chance given to them, this time punching the ball in on a one yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Zach Ojile. The touchdown, which would prove to ultimately be the game winner, put the Bulldogs up 17-0 with under five minutes to go in the third quarter.
The Huskies finally broke through UMD defense with less than 50 seconds left in the third when quarterback Dwayne Lawhorn found receiver Max Plunkett on a slant route for a six yard score. The touchdown put St. Cloud State on the board and made it 17-7 Bulldogs.
UMD came out swinging to start the fourth quarter, putting together a fifteen play, 59 yard drive, culminating in a 32 yard field goal by Branger that put the dogs up 20-7 with just over eight minutes to play.
The Huskies would not go down without a fight though. Facing a 4th and goal with less than four minutes left, Lawhorn found receiver Tanner Tiege for a one yard touchdown pass to cut the Bulldog lead to 20-14.
Following the touchdown the Huskies elected not to go for an on-side kick, instead trusting in their defense to get them the ball back. Unfortunately for them, they would never touch it again as the Bulldogs endured multiple timeouts and ran the clock out, securing a 20-14 victory.
The defense once again was a bright spot for the Bulldogs, holding the Huskies to just 219 yards of total offense and forcing three turnovers. Freshman linebacker Logan Eiden and junior defensive back Michael Kirkendoll each had an interception and sophomore linebacker Cole Refsnider had a fumble recovery.
Although it was often a struggle offensively for the dogs, sophomore receiver Kurtis Weigand had a strong game, finishing with four catches for 38 yards and the team’s only receiving touchdown. Senior kicker Dan Branger was also huge for UMD, converting on a pair of field goals including a 32 yard make that helped put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter.
Next up the Bulldogs head out on the road for a showdown with the Bemidji State Beavers next Saturday, Sept. 28th. Kick off is set for 4 p.m. The game can be found live locally on 102.5 The Duke FM. The game will also be streamed live on the Midco Sports Network, as well as on umdbulldogs.com.