Joe Reichert hauled in the pass shy of the goal line, then stepped over a diving Maverick defender and into the end zone. Most of the UMD sideline and grandstand were too busy celebrating to notice a piece of yellow cloth sitting at the 20-yard line. A holding call on guard Andrew Muer nullified the 16-yard touchdown, which would have put UMD in front of No. 2 Minnesota State-Mankato with 46 seconds left in regulation Saturday night. Instead facing a third and goal from the 26, Drew Bauer had his next two passes broken up and the Bulldogs were beaten for the first time this year.
UMD’s NSIC home winning streak, which started in 2000, is over at 41 games.
“The kids played well all night,” head coach Curt Wiese said. “I’m crushed for them. They poured their heart on the line tonight.”
Down 21–17 with six minutes remaining, the UMD offense got the ball near midfield after a Maverick three and out. A 23-yard swing to Austin Sikorski moved the Bulldogs to the Maverick 18, and a 10-yard grab by Zach Zweifel on third down made it first and goal from the 5.
UMD lost 6 yards on second down and another 5 on a false start. Reichert’s touchdown was brought back on the next play when Muer was beaten off the ball.
“I feel bad for our guys ending a game like that,” Wiese said. “Unfortunately, in a situation like that, it’s high pressure for everybody. We’ll watch the film and see if the call was right or not.”
The Bulldogs trailed 14–10 at halftime, but went up a field goal on the opening series of the third quarter when Bauer hit Zweifel up the seam for a 23-yard score.
Logan Lauters fumbled on a screen play late in the third, giving the Mavericks control at the UMD 34. Minnesota State-Mankato’s Jon Wolf capitalized immediately with a long touchdown strike to Dennis Carter. UMD’s offense turned it over on its next two possessions, but the defense stiffened to keep the Mavericks within four.
Despite confining the Mavericks to 269 yards of offense—185 off their average through two games—the Bulldog defense failed to generate a takeaway for the first time since Week 3 last year.
“Turnovers were going to be a factor in the football game,” Wiese said. “Our defense hung in there against an explosive offense. Our offense needed to respond and turnovers cost us.”
Bauer, who threw for 173 yards and also led UMD with 79 on the ground, was responsible for one of those turnovers on a floater over the middle that was undercut by Maverick defensive back Nathan Hancock. UMD had scored twice on similar plays earlier in the game. First, Bauer corralled a botched snap and found Aaron Roth for a 19-yard touchdown to give UMD a 10-0 lead in the second quarter. Then, he hit Zweifel to make it 17-14 in the third.
The Bulldogs held advantages in first downs (17-15) and yards (331-269), but were kept off the scoreboard for the last 23:51. Of UMD’s 86 points this season, 29 have been scored in the second half.
“We’ve got to tip our hat to Mankato State,” Wiese said. “They didn’t make mistakes and we did. We’ve got to learn from it.”
After entering the weekend seventh in the country, the Bulldogs (2-1, 2-1 NSIC) sank to No. 13 in the national polls—their lowest position this fall. UMD is at Wayne State (Neb.) Saturday, and returns to Malosky Stadium Oct. 5 for a homecoming matchup with No. 20 St. Cloud State.
BY KYLE FARRIS firstname.lastname@example.org