Minnesota Duluth made the most of the Cougars’ generosity.Austin Sikorski rushed for 104 yards and the Bulldogs scored after two of USF’s three first half turnovers in a 32-7 win before a home crowd of 5,317 at James S. Malosky Stadium in Duluth, Minn.
The victory is the first for new UMD head coach Curt Weise and extended the Bulldogs’ NSIC home win streak to 41 in a row.
“It was a smashmouth kind of game, which is exactly what we thought it would be,” said USF head football coach Jed Stugart. “We just turned the ball over too much and made so many mistakes in the first half.”
Those three turnovers came in a span of 13 snaps for the Cougars (0-1, 0-1), who were also slapped with eight penalties for 159 yards. UMD (1-0, 1-0) also outgained its guest 381-144 in total yards and held the Cougars to just 11 net yards total on the ground.
The Bulldogs won the coin flip and received the ball at their 35-yard line after an out of bounds opening kick. They quickly moved the chains and notched a first down when USF was called for defensive pass interference. UMD opened the scoring after Sikorski capped a six-play, 65-yard drive with a 19-yard score at the 12:05 mark of the first quarter.
The Cougars fumbled on their first possession and dodged a bullet with a solid defensive stand. They were marching after the ensuing punt but Papilion was picked off at the UMD 39-yard line and the Bulldogs booted a 40-yard field goal to take a 10-0 lead. USF fumbled on the first play of the their next drive, giving UMD the ball on the Cougars’ 46-yard line, paving the way for a UMD 29-yard field goal. Freshman quarterback Drew Bauer dashed in from 15 yards out with 4:53 left in the second half to give UMD a 19-0 lead at the break after a failed two-point conversion.
USF went three-and-out on its first possession of the second half, and a short punt put the Bulldogs at the Cougars' 33 to start their next drive. This time, UMD called five straight running plays and Sikorski scored from two yards out to give the home team a 25-0 advantage.Papilion was 6-for-7 for 40 yards on USF’s next possession and got additional help from 35 yards in Bulldog penalties. He put the Cougars on the board with a one-yard lurch to make it a 25-7 game with 7:56 left in the third quarter.
UMD assembled an 82-yard drive immediately thereafter, eating up more than six minutes. Backup quarterback Eric Kline hit Zach Zweifel over the middle with an 18-yard touchdown pass and the Bulldogs led 32-7 after three quarters.
The Cougars held UMD to just 28 yards in the fourth quarter and looked to score when Broughan Jantz recovered a Bulldog fumble with 5:43 left. But a pair of sacks hurt the drive — and the Cougars’ chance was ended by an incompletion on 4th and 13. UMD mishandled the ball again with 41 seconds left but the Cougars simply ran out of time.
“We couldn’t get off the field and third down killed us tonight,” said Stugart. “We had a good drive going in the second half, but a penalty backed us up and a bad punt and the next thing you know they’re back in our territory.”
Papilion finished 13-for-27, netting 108 yards with one interception in his collegiate debut. Young was 3-for-4 for 25 yards throwing the ball. Cougar QBs were sacked five times.
“There were a bunch of little bright spots throughout the game and I was real proud of how Luke and Matt Young settled down in the second half,” said Stugart.Austin Vanhove had five catches for a team-high 77 yards while Hanna finished with seven catches for 42 yards. Nephi Garcia gained 20 yards on eight carries. Wes Smith returned five kicks for 144 yards, including a 51-yard scamper.
John Batinich was credited with a sack and team-best 11.5 tackles. Jantz posted 9.5 tackles (1 TFL) and recovered a fumble. Clint Wilson and Thad Campbell each finished with 7.5 tackles.
The Cougars will return home to host intrastate rival Northern State (1-0) on Saturday.
“Everything is fixable and we’ll focus on those mistakes in practice next week,” said Stugart. “We’ll be excited to get back home and work on revenging this loss a little bit.”
Courtesy: University of Sioux Falls