No. 2 ranked Minnesota Duluth used a strong rushing attack to pull away in the second half and earn a 45-20 victory over Southwest Minnesota State in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference football on Thursday night in Marshall.
UMD finished the game with 243 yards rushing and racked up 479 yards of total offense. Logan Lauters led the Bulldogs with 104 yards rushing and one touchdown on nine carries, while Austin Sikorski added 57 yards and two touchdowns on 12 attempts.
SMSU quarterback Tyler Peschong completed 28 of 47 passes for 304 yards and one touchdown, with wide out Tyler Erickson tying a career-high with seven receptions for 89 yards. The Mustang offense finished with 386 yards of offense, with 82 yards on the ground.
UMD held a slight 18-13 halftime lead, but pulled away in the second half with 27 points, in earning its seventh straight victory over SMSU since 1999.
The SMSU defense forced UMD to turn the ball over on downs on the game’s first drive and the SMSU offense answered back with the game’s first points.
SMSU marched 69 yards on just three plays with Peschong capping the drive with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Dean to give SMSU a 7-0 lead with 10 minutes and 14 seconds left in the opening quarter.
The two teams exchanged punts, before UMD took its first lead of the game late in the quarter with Chase Vogler tossing a 42-yard touchdown pass to Justin Fowlkes on third-down and six. UMD then executed a two-point conversion to take an 8-7 lead at the 3:51 mark.
UMD extended the lead to 15-7 early in the second quarter on an Austin Sikorski 4-yard touchdown run with 13:41 remaining in the half.
SMSU cut into the lead two possessions later, putting together a 51-yard, seven-play scoring drive. On third and goal from the UMD 6-yard line, Peschong plowed across the goal line to trim the lead to 15-13 with 2:19 left in the half, followed a failed two-point try.
The Bulldogs ended the half with a 23-yard field goal by Andrew Brees to take an 18-13 halftime lead.
SMSU was forced to punt on its opening drive of the second half and UMD quickly added to the lead with Lauters running in from 22 yards out to give the Bulldogs at 25-13 lead at the 11:57 mark.
SMSU wouldn’t go away and put together an impressive 75-yard scoring drive. The Mustangs moved down to the UMD 26-yard and faced fourth and six, but Peschong kept the drive alive with a 12-yard pass to Abe Kos. One play later, Warren Matthews plowed in on a 7-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 25-20 with 5:53 on the clock.
On the ensuing kickoff, UMD’s Justin Fowlkes returned the ball 44 yards to the SMSU 40-yard line, setting up a quick, three-play drive, finished off with a Vogler 28-yard pass to Zach Zweifel with 4:21 remaining in the third quarter.
SMSU turned the ball over on down on its next possession at the UMD 36-yard and the Bulldogs answered back with a touchdown 10 plays later to extend the margin to 38-20 in the fourth quarter and never looked back.
Joe Stupka led the SMSU defense with 11 tackles, including one sack and two tackles for loss. Patrick Olilver added eight stops, while J.J. Bobrowicz chipped in with seven tackles.
Southwest Minnesota State will return to action on Sept. 8 with an NSIC game at Northern State.
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