GRAND FORKS, N.D. (USF) – Senior quarterback Caden Walters accounted for five TDs and the nation’s second-rated defense had another dominating effort as the University of Sioux Falls Football Team (4-2, 4-2 NSIC) won for the second straight game with a 52-14 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference victory over Minnesota Crookston Saturday (Oct. 12) at the Alerus Center.
With the game moved indoors due to snow and high wind, the Cougars made like the Alerus Center was a second home. They have played three times at North Dakota’s home stadium and recorded two wins and have trailed just one second in the three games there. In 2011, a last second field goal by UND provided the difference in a 15-13 win. In total, USF has a 92-to-33-point differential. USF, which recorded its 72nd win at the DII level, is now 26-4 against NSIC North teams and 12-3 on the road against the North.
After UMC drew within 10-7 early in the second quarter, the Cougars closed the half with a 35-point run for a commanding 45-7 lead. Both teams scored in the second half as USF took the 52-14 decision. For USF, the 35-point second quarter is the most points scored since putting up 35 in the first quarter in a 73-21 win over MSU Moorhead on Sept. 27, 2014. It is the most during the two plus years of the Jon Anderson-coached Cougars.
“We came out very strong today,” said Anderson, who recorded his 20th win as head coach at USF. “We played dynamic offense with big plays throughout the first half. Caden Walters played with confidence and effectively led this squad. Plus, our defense stepped up again and held UMC in check,” said Anderson, whose team returns home to host North leader Minnesota Duluth on Saturday, Oct. 19 at 1 p.m., at Bob Young Field.
Walters came into the game ranked 20th in the nation and first in the NSIC in total offense and continued to build numbers even as he played just one half. Against UMC, he completed 16-of-18 passes for 277 yards and three TDs while added six carries for 57 yards and a pair of TD runs (9, 33). With a career-high 334 yards in total offense, he topped his previous high of 314 against Upper Iowa in 2018 (Oct. 27). He directed an offense that totaled 520 yards on 72 offensive plays which included 37 plays for 395 yards by halftime. With his total, Walters has completed 97-of-150 (65 percent) passes for 1,391 yards with nine TDs.
USF also had a strong game from redshirt sophomore Thuro Reisdorfer, who had three catches for 20 yards and a TD reception while rushing nine times for 35 yards. But he electrified the USF faithful when he took a kickoff 80-yards in the second quarter to halt momentum by UMC which had drawn within 10-7 at the 10:32 mark. With his return, he had USF’s first special team’s touchdown since Parker Gregston’s 56-yard kickoff return against Wayne State on Nov. 10, 2018 at Bob Young Field. In the D2 era, USF has had 37 special teams/defensive TDs with 12 by a special teams units.
USF’s rushing attack was led by Ja’Tai Jenkins with 12 carries for 68 yards. From the wide receiver spot, USFs Nate Johnson continued to excel for USF with seven catches for 71 yards which included a 39-yard TD reception. He now has 34 catches for 496 yards and four TDs. Redshirt sophomore Ben Sokup added two catches for 65 yards.
As for the USF defense, which ranked second in DII with 220.4 yards in offense allowed per game, held that average up. UMC had 59 plays for 213 yards or 3.6 yards per play. USF had two sacks and three interceptions, including a first-career picks by senior Max Sturdevant and Zebadiah Selu while Parker Gregston had his second of the season and sixth of his career. Sturdevant had a career-high with seven tackles and added a sack in his best game in a USF uniform.
Scoring Breakdown –
USF, which won the coin toss for the first time in 10 games, moved to 4-0 against UMC with an offense that average 10.68 yards per play in the first half (37-395). On the first drive, USF moved the ball 65 yards on 11 plays and USF 4:51 to take a 3-0 lead on Daniel Esparza’s 36-yard field goal. Esparza has hit all five of his field goal attempts this year.
Later in the first half, USF had a long drive to go up 10-0 on the first of two TD runs by Walters in the opening half. Walters directed a six-play, 94 yard scoring drive by rushing for a nine-yard scoring run with 2:56 to play in the first quarter. When USF was unable to build on that lead, UMC answered with their only scoring driving of the day. With Tristan Robbins connected with Alex Foltz on an 11-yard TD pass at the 10:32 mark of the second quarter, UMC drew within, 10-7 of USF.
But, USF had an immediate answer and came through the tight-roping act along the left sideline by Reisdorfer, who took a kickoff back 80 yards for a TD and re-installed USF with a 10-point lead at 17-7. In the final 5:25 of the half, USF scored 28 points. First Caden Walters had a career-long TD run of 33 yards for a 24-7 lead. Then Walters connected with Kyle Barnetche on a one-yard TD reception. Barnetche’s TD reception was the first of his career and helped USF to a 31-7 lead after a two-play, 45-yard scoring drive. On its next possession, USF struck quickly as Nate Johnson caught a 39-yard TD strike from Walters with 2:45 to play. Then after, USF’s defense stepped up again, Reisdorfer caught a short pass from Walters for a three-yard TD reception with 29 seconds to play for the 45-7 lead.
USF added a TD in the third quarter on a five-yard run by quarterback Mitchell Martin for the 52-7 margin. With 4:22 to play in the third quarter, UMC put up its final TD on a LaDarek McCray 36-yard interception return.