UMD’s Football Team Flexes their Muscles in 52-7 Opening Night Rout of Minot State

The UMD Pep Band plays prior to the beginning of the season opener against Minot State Thursday, Sept. 5th. UMD would go on to win in dominating fashion 52-7. (Photo courtesy of  UMD Athletics ).

The UMD Pep Band plays prior to the beginning of the season opener against Minot State Thursday, Sept. 5th. UMD would go on to win in dominating fashion 52-7. (Photo courtesy of UMD Athletics).

DULUTH, MN. -- The 14th ranked UMD Football team began their 87th season on a strong note Thursday night at Malosky Stadium, defeating the visiting Minot State Beavers 52-7. The dogs, who extended their NSIC winning streak to 20 games with the victory, improved to a perfect 8-0 all time against the Beavers.

UMD’s defense wasted no time jumping on the Minot State offense, forcing them into a 3 and out on their opening drive. After a Beaver punt, the dogs started their opening drive on their own 46 yard line. It didn’t take long for them to strike for the game’s first score. After a 25 yard scamper by quarterback John Larson the dogs found paydirt, with Larson finding sophomore running back Zach Ojile in the corner of the end zone for the Bulldog touchdown. 

It looked as though Minot State would answer though as they quickly marched down to the UMD 32 yard line before being forced to attempt a field goal. On the attempt, junior Justic’e King broke free and blocked the kick, giving the Bulldogs the ball back.

Following a few impressive runs by junior running back Cazz Martin, Wade Sullivan capped off another successful UMD drive with a 5 yard touchdown run of his own. The following 2 point conversion put UMD up 15-0, a lead good enough for the victory. 

On the ensuing kickoff it appeared as if the Bulldogs would go up 17-0 as Cory Carignan, the receiver back deep for the Beavers fumbled the ball in the endzone. Miraculously he emerged out of the end zone and carried the ball 104 yards for a touchdown shocking the Bulldog crowd to make it 15-7. 

After trading 3 and outs, UMD would strike again, this time on a beautifully thrown 38 yard touchdown pass from Larson to junior receiver Quincy Woods. After a failed 2 point conversion the dogs would find themselves up 21-7.

The Bulldog defense was able to follow that up with another forced punt, setting up another UMD touchdown run by Cazz Martin to put them up 28-7. After the teams traded failed drives, the half would end with the same score of 28-7.

The Bulldogs would come out swinging in the second half, with junior Michael Kirkendoll taking the opening kickoff out of the end zone all the way to the UMD 46 yard line. Running back Wade Sullivan would follow that up with a 39 yard run of his own and, a few plays later would run it in from 5 yards out for another UMD score. Kicker Dan Branger would tack on the extra point to make it 35-7 dogs. 

The dogs would continue the offensive onslaught after another forced punt, this time adding a 19 yard field goal by Branger to make it 38-7. The defense delivered again on the next Beaver possession, with sophomore defensive back Austin Kurylo intercepting Minot quarterback Ben Bolinske. 

Three plays later, John Larson showed again his passing prowess, this time dropping a 50 yard pass into the waiting arms of receiver Quincy Woods for another UMD touchdown. The extra point put the Bulldogs up 45-7, but they weren’t done yet.

The defense was able to give the dogs one last score with sophomore linebacker Eric Schmitz picking off a Bolinske pass and returning it 50 yards to the house to put UMD up 52-7, a score that would stand for the rest of the game. 

Overall, it was quite the successful night for the Bulldogs with the offense, defense, and special teams all contributing.

Offensively, it was all about the return of junior quarterback John Larson from a season-ending leg injury. Larson, the pre-season pick for NSIC North division offensive player of the year, looked every bit of his old self, going 16-28 for 279 yards passing and three touchdowns, while adding 77 yards on the ground. 

On the other side of the ball the Bulldog defense picked up right where they left off last year, holding the Beaver offense to just 7 points and 161 yards of total offense. Leading the way for the dogs was Brad Dati with 8 tackles. Overall, UMD had 7 tackles for a loss in a dominant performance. 

UMD, now 1-0 on the young season, looks to build on their opening victory in another NSIC North division clash with MSU-Moorhead next week in Moorhead. The game can be heard live on KDAL610 AM and 103.9 FM. The Bulldogs return home for military appreciation night Saturday September 21st to take on the St. Cloud State Huskies. Kickoff is set for 6:05 p.m from Malosky Stadium.