When a team’s starting quarterback and top two running backs are standing on the sideline late in the third quarter—as was the case with UMD Saturday afternoon at Wayne State—things have gone either very wrong or very right. For UMD, it was the latter. Against the Wildcats, the Bulldogs showed no residual effects from a gut-wrenching loss to Minnesota State-Mankato two weekends ago, rolling to a 64-21 win behind seven rushing touchdowns and a season-high 483 yards of offense.
“Both sides of the football came out focused and ready to go,” head coach Curt Wiese said. “We had an opportunity today to play everybody we traveled, which is well-deserved for the guys that generally don’t get as many plays.”
Less than two minutes into the first quarter, UMD turned a Nate Zuk fumble recovery into seven points when Logan Lauters reached the end zone from 13 yards out—Latuers’ first of three scores. On the ensuing Wildcat possession, UMD added its third defensive touchdown in four games—a one-handed interception by Colby Ring that the senior captain returned 28 yards.
After being held to 158 rushing yards the week before, UMD’s lowest total since the 2011 playoffs, the Bulldogs churned out 316 ground yards and had three runners go for more than 50. Lauters led the way with 101 yards on 11 carries. His 64-yard touchdown dash midway through the first quarter followed 14 unanswered points by the Wildcats.
“Offensive line did a really good job this week in preparation of a very complex defense,” Wiese said. “(They) executed our scheme and opened up a lot of holes and a lot of opportunities for our running backs and quarterbacks to run the football.”
Quarterback Drew Bauer was his efficient self against the Wildcats, throwing for 129 yards and a touchdown to go with 51 yards and another score on the ground. The freshman helped UMD pull away from Wayne State near halftime, first hitting Zach Zweifel on a 38-yard rainbow late in the second quarter, and then taking a read option 29 yards down the left sideline to make it 50-21 early in the third.
With Bauer at the helm this fall, the Bulldogs have not drifted away from the read-option offense, which they used to near-perfection the last few seasons.
“Drew ran a little bit of it in high school and he has a pretty good knack for it along with our running backs,” Wiese said. “It’s a tough thing to do to continue to make sure you have a good mesh with your quarterback and running back. Our guys continue to do a good job of it.”
UMD piled up 29 first-quarter points, but had to compete against a Wayne State offense that was having a pretty easy go of it, as well. Wildcat quarterback Zach Osborn threw three first-half touchdowns—two coming in the first quarter to counter UMD’s fast start, and the third coming in the second quarter to keep the Bulldogs temporarily within reach.
While Wayne State’s offense struggled to maintain traction, gaining just 35 yards after halftime, UMD received touchdown runs from Jeron Johnson and Eric Kline to push the final margin to 43—the team’s second-most lopsided win since 2010.
The Bulldogs crept up two spots in the national polls from No. 13 to No. 11 this week, and will take on NSIC North-leading St. Cloud State on homecoming Saturday afternoon. Kickoff is at 1 p.m., with the winner gaining the inside track in the division race.
BY KYLE FARRIS firstname.lastname@example.org