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Chris Murphy, Published September 29 2012

Dragons remain winless on the season, fall to NSU

MOORHEAD – The woes continued for the Minnesota State Moorhead football team, as the Dragons remained winless on the season after Saturday afternoon’s 45-7 loss to Northern State University.

The Dragons have found the end zone once in the last two games in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference football action.

With half of MSUM’s starters being true freshmen and redshirt freshmen, it’s difficult to find leadership to break the Dragons out of their 0-5 start.

“Part of the growing pains of having a lot of younger players is not only pulling the team out of a tailspin, but yourself out of a tailspin,” MSUM coach Steve Laqua said. “That became evident today.”

MSUM deserved as much of the credit as NSU on the Wolves’ first touchdown. The Wolves were lined up for a 41-yard field goal attempt for kicker Felipe Alfaia. The Dragons blocked it and returned it into Wolves’ territory, but MSUM lined up offsides, squashing the block.

It remained fourth down and Alfaia nailed a 36-yard field goal, but, yet again, the Dragons lined up offsides. On the next play, the Wolves pulled a fake field goal on fourth down and quarterback Jared Jacobson found linebacker Logan Fahnhorst for the 14-yard touchdown pass on Fahnhorst’s first career reception to make it 7-0.

“It went downhill after the botched kick sequence,” Laqua said. “Things started to unravel real fast and we didn’t have that maturity to stop that spiral and turn things back around.”

After a three-and-out for MSUM, NSU (2-3, 2-3 NSIC) marched 84 yards on 14 plays in just more than six minutes to make it 14-0. On the second play of the second quarter, Jacobson broke a tackle and fired a bullet on the run to Mark Hanley from 15 yards out to notch his second touchdown pass of the game.

MSUM had the chance to cut the lead in the second, having second-and-2 on the Wolves’ 6-yard line, but a fumble for a loss, a sack and a missed field goal kept the Dragons off the scoreboard.

Alfaia drilled a 21-yard field goal to make it 17-0 at halftime.

After MSUM opened the second half with a three-and-out, NSU marched 56 yards on seven plays, capping the drive with a 2-yard touchdown by John Hughes to make it 24-0. The Dragons would answer with another three-and-out and the Wolves would come back with another touchdown. Jacobson found Hanley for a 44-yard touchdown pass to make it 31-0 with less than six minutes remaining in the third quarter.

The Dragons fumbled the ensuing kickoff and two plays later, Hughes was scampering 20 yards to the end zone to make it 38-0 and the route was on.

After an interception by NSU linebacker Devin Olson, Cameron Pudwill rumbled eight yards for a touchdown to cap the scoring for NSU.

“We came out right away, but then we kind of died,” MSUM quarterback Jake Hodge said. “We need to keep the intensity. We have to stay focused on the next play and we kind of let the penalties get to us and we didn’t stay focused.”

No stat was kind to MSUM, as the Dragons had minus-40 rushing yards, 193 yards of total offense and nine penalties costing them 95 yards and early momentum.

“We need to control what we can control,” Laqua said. “The penalties were a lot of unforced penalties that we need to do a better job of handling. That’s got to be an area that gets better certainly. At the end of the day, we have to have some leadership step up when that spiral hits to turn things in a different direction.”

The lone touchdown for MSUM came on a 25-yard touchdown from Ryan Toelle to Shawn Marlowe with 3 minutes, 11 seconds left in the game.

NSU 7 10 21 7–45

MSUM 0 0 0 7– 7

Northern – Fahnhorst 14 pass from Jacobson (Alfaia kick)

Northern – Hanley 15 pass from Jacobson (Alfaia kick)

Northern – Alfaia 21-yard field goal

Northern – Hughes 2 run (Alfaia kick)

Northern – Hanley 44 pass from Jacobson (Alfaia kick)

Northern – Hughes 20 run (Alfaia kick)

Northern – Pudwill 8 run (Alfaia kick)

Moorhead – Marlowe 25 pass from Toelle (Kramer kick)

TEAM STATISTICS

NSU MSUM

First downs 22 14

Rushes-yards 41-121 23-(-40)

Passing 287 233

Comp-Att-Int 20-32-0 18-38-2

Punts-Avg. 6-40 7-33.9

Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1

Penalties-Yards 8-106 9-95

Time of Possession 34:23 25:37

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: Moorhead, Schell 8-40, Montplaisir 3-4, Medhaug 1-(minus-4), Toelle 4-(minus-31), Hodge 7-(minus-49). Northern, Hughes 17-79, Walker 7-26, Pudwill 6-15, Jacobson 6-11, Nguyen 4-(minus-3), Emde 1-(minus-7).

PASSING: Moorhead, Hodge 12-29-2 152 yards, Toelle 5-8-0 79, Montplaisir 1-1-0, 2. Northern, Jacobson 19-31-0 280, Emde 1-1-0 7.

RECEIVING: Moorhead, Marlowe 5-104, Jiskra 4-40, Williams 3-18, Shelly 2-35, Rivard 2-23, Youngblom 1-11 Lange 1-2. Northern, Hanley 6-115, Piatz 3-44, Freeman 3-27, Morton 2-35, Hughes 2-33, Jastram 2-12, Fahnhorst 1-14, Lopez 1-7.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548