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Hayden Goethe, Published October 13 2012

MSUM snaps skid with college football victory

MOORHEAD – With 12 freshmen among the 22 starters on the Minnesota State Moorhead football team, head coach Steve Laqua acknowledges that this is a program building for the future.

A victory Saturday gave many of the Dragons their first taste of success.

MSUM jumped out to the lead early and never relinquished it, defeating Minnesota-Crookston 35-13 in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference football before 724 fans at Alex Nemzek Stadium.

“It shows people that while we’re young, we can still play with people who are juniors and seniors out there,” said MSUM quarterback Jake Hodge, who was one of nine freshmen starting on the Dragons offense. “When we get older, we’ll have all of this experience going for us.”

The Dragons’ victory snapped a 13-game losing streak dating back to last season, with the last win coming against UMC.

MSUM started fast thanks to a turnover. On the Golden Eagles’ first possession after the Dragons missed a field goal, MSUM defensive tackle Steve Parks intercepted an A.J. Barge pass that was tipped. That gave the Dragons the ball at the UMC 48-yard line.

After a couple of completions put the Dragons at the 7, Hodge found tight end Wade Youngblom cutting across the middle for a touchdown to put MSUM in front 7-0.

In the second quarter, UMC answered with a touchdown of its own, but the extra point was blocked to keep the Dragons up a point.

Hodge and Zayne Medhaug added second-quarter touchdown runs of 19 and 40 yards, respectively, to increase MSUM’s lead to 21-6.

Medhaug finished with 124 yards rushing on 19 carries. The freshman from Wahpeton, N.D., had just 47 yards rushing in his career entering Saturday.

“I think the key piece was that we were able to get the run game going,” Laqua said. “We’ve struggled this season to do that. That’s tough on a freshman quarterback.”

From there, the MSUM defense continued to give the Golden Eagles (1-6, 1-6 NSIC) offense fits. The Dragons (1-6, 1-6) finished with four interceptions among five turnovers forced.

“We did better today of knowing what our keys were and knowing what to do,” said MSUM defensive back Sheldon Jones III, who returned an interception for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. “Just playing hard and playing fast and giving 100 percent effort every play, every down.”

The Dragons’ celebration was tempered by an injury to junior linebacker Brad Hauer while defending a punt return in the fourth quarter. After a 15-minute delay, Hauer left the field on a stretcher. He was moving his arms and legs, and he gave his teammates a thumbs-up while being placed into an ambulance.

Laqua had no update on Hauer’s condition after the game.

UMC head coach Paul Miller said a victory for a young team like the Dragons is big when building for future seasons.

“I think they’re really important wins,” he said. “Any win is important. When you’re working it kind of reinforces the fact for your kids that the things you’re doing are the right things. That reward is a big thing.”

UMC 0 6 7 0–13

MSUM 7 14 0 14–35

MSUM–Youngblom 7 pass from Hodge (Kramer kick)

UMC–Cheatham 7 pass from Barge (kick failed)

MSUM–Hodge 19 run (Kramer kick)

MSUM–Medhaug 40 run (Kramer kick)

UMC–Haley 5 run (Henderson kick)

MSUM–Brody 0 fumble recovery (Kramer kick)

MSUM–Jones 32 interception return (Kramer kick)

TEAM STATISTICS

UMC MSUM

First downs 21 15

Rushes-yards 38-108 32-148

Passing 208 161

Comp-Att-Int 23-41-4 12-22-1

Punts-Avg. 4-30.8 2-29.0

Fumbles-Lost 3-1 2-2

Penalties-Yards 8-60 5-65

Time of Possession 34:24 25:09

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: UMC, Haley 22-112, Tucker 4-12, Barge 6-8, McBride 2-2, Pascal 3-(minus-8), Secrest 1-(minus-21). MSUM, Medhaug 19-124, Lange 3-15, Hodge 9-14.

PASSING: UMC, Barge 23-41-4 208 yards. MSUM, Hodge 12-22-1 161.

RECEIVING: UMC, Cheatham 7-64, Ross 6-67, Calderon 2-15, Pascal 2-14, Haley 2-13, McBride 2-10, Steinfeldt 1-20, Barge 1-5. MSUM, Rivard 7-98, Jiskra 2-13, Shelly 1-23, Marlowe 1-20, Youngblom 1-7.

Readers can reach Forum Assistant Sports Editor

Hayden Goethe at (701) 241-5558