After 27 minutes of play Saturday night in Fayette, Iowa, the UMD football team had a 28-point lead and every reason to think a rout was in the making. They would have been wrong. Upper Iowa slipped in touchdowns at the end of the first half and start of the second, and threatened to pull within one score in the third quarter, but the Bulldogs ultimately steadied themselves and held off the Peacocks for a 37-19 win.
Squaring off against the reigning NSIC Offensive Player of the Week, quarterback Cole Jaeschke, UMD’s defense was at times explosive and at others erratic. The unit forced three turnovers, two of which resulted in defensive touchdowns, but also surrendered 453 yards, 309 more than they did in the season opener against Sioux Falls.
“They faced a good offense,” head coach Curt Wiese said. “Upper Iowa has a lot of talented kids on that side of the ball and a quarterback and tailback (Chris Smith) who are probably as good as anyone we’re going to face in our conference.”
For the UMD offense, it was another week and another opening-drive touchdown. On the third play from scrimmage, quarterback Drew Bauer baited the Peacock defense with a play fake and shot 52 yards down the nearly vacant right sideline to put UMD on the board.
The Bulldog defense made its first big play midway through the first quarter. Outside linebacker Nathan Zibolski cut off a Jaeschke dump pass and took it 48 yards the other way to make it 14-0. UMD pushed the margin to 21-0 late in the quarter with a 72-yard drive ending with a 15-yard touchdown run by Austin Sikorski.
Three minutes before halftime, UMD went up 28-0 when a bootlegging Bauer threw back across the field to a wide-open Jeremy Reierson for an eight-yard score. Bauer finished with 128 yards passing, 80 rushing and the two touchdowns, and is turnover-free through two collegiate starts.
“I thought Drew played consistent,” Wiese said. “He did throw the ball better. Fortunately, we were able to open the offense up a little bit.”
The Peacocks clawed back to 28-13 on a pair of Jaeschke touchdown tosses—one 15 seconds before the break and the other 70 seconds after. Then, with Upper Iowa driving at the UMD 24, nose tackle Buma Foncham batted a third-down pass, plucked it out of the air and carried it 60 yards for a touchdown to make it 34-13. The game was never close from there.
“It created a lot of momentum at that point that we needed,” Wiese said. “I think Buma was probably smiling before the ball came (down). Really good play by Buma.”
UMD tacked on a field goal in the third quarter and Upper Iowa added a one-yard touchdown run by Smith late in the fourth.
Smith and Sikorski led their respective sides with 86 yards rushing. Jaeschke supplied 360 yards with his arm, but his three turnovers put UMD at too great of an advantage.
“Upper Iowa is a good football team,” Wiese said. “In some aspects they gave us all we could handle. You can always learn from wins or losses. I think our guys realize we have a lot of work to do.” With the entirety of the national top ten either winning or off over the weekend, UMD (2-0, 2-0 NSIC) stood pat at No. 7 in the polls.
Second-ranked Minnesota State-Mankato comes to town Saturday in a clash of 2012 NSIC North and South Division champions. The teams last met Nov. 12, 2011, when the Bulldogs topped the Mavericks 31-19 at Malosky Stadium.
BY KYLE FARRIS firstname.lastname@example.org