BY JIMMY GILLIGAN | The Statesman THE GAME
The Bulldogs overcame a slow start, scoring 28 second-half points to beat Minot State 36 to 10. Minot State took an early 7-point lead after the Bulldogs punted on their first two possessions. Without great field position, the Bulldogs were unable to find the end zone early on in the game. They even trailed the beavers 10-8 at the half.
The only first-half points they could muster were on a 2-yard run from senior nose tackle Jon Harden and a safety, which the refs handed to UMD after a holding call in the end zone.
Playing in place of injured starter Drew Bauer, Nate Ricci tilted the momentum in UMD’s favor early in the second half when he weaved through the Beaver defense on a 64-yard touchdown run. The Bulldog offense then found its footing, scoring touchdowns in each of their next three possessions to take control of the game.
Despite trailing in the first half, the Bulldog defense thrived against Minot State, holding them to just 99 yards of offense and no points in the second half. The Beaver offense couldn’t break the century mark in passing or rushing yards. They only had seven first downs in the game.
The Bulldogs finish the 2015 season with an 8-3 record. They may have an opportunity to play in the Mineral Water Bowl, but they will not make the playoffs. After losing two of their first three games, they finished the season on a 7-1 run. With Bemidji State beating Northern State, UMD gets a share of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference North Division crown for the eighth consecutive year.
It was a strong finish on senior day for UMD. The win kept UMD undefeated at home this season. It was their fifteenth consecutive home win, and 27th consecutive home win against NSIC North teams.
A handful of UMD seniors had key roles in in their final collegiate games. Senior Justin Fowlkes threw for the first touchdown pass of his career, a 59-yard strike to Ricci on a double reverse trick play. Jon Harden had three rushing touchdowns. Seniors Brent Stiglich and Mark Nahorniak were the top two Bulldog tacklers, making eight and six stops, respectively.
3- Nose tackle-turned running back Jon Harden ran for two rushing touchdowns in the game. It was the 5’ 10”, 305 lb. senior’s 4th touchdown of the season and of his career.
246-UMD had 246 rushing yards on offense against Minot State. Of those rushing yards, 216 came from Darren Walker (116) and Nate Ricci (100).
0-The Bulldog defense did not allow a single point in the second half. The closest Minot State got to the end zone in the final two quarters was the UMD 47-yard line.
WAIT…. WHAT? Scoring four rushing touchdowns this year, senior nose tackle Jon Harden actually tallied more rushing touchdowns than senior running back Logan Lauters, the No. 2 all-time rusher at UMD. Missing six games due to injury, he had just one touchdown run, while Harden had four total this season.