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Wayne Nelson / Forum Communications Co., Published November 06 2012

UND running back Sutton to miss season finale

GRAND FORKS – Mitch Sutton perhaps ran as hard as he’s ever run as a University of North Dakota running back last week against Southern Utah.

As a senior, it was his last home game at the Alerus Center and he was trying to help UND seal a win against Southern Utah.

Sutton’s punishing running late in UND’s 33-29 win, however, came with a price. Sutton broke his collarbone and will miss UND’s season finale Nov. 17 at Northern Colorado.

“We were trying to run out the clock and it was our second to last play when Mitch got stuck pretty good,” UND coach Chris Mussman said. “He didn’t feel anything after the game because he was pretty pumped up. Come Sunday morning, he was in pain.”

Sutton rushed for 467 yards on 109 attempts this season and finished with 11 touchdowns. He was UND’s power back and has been a mainstay in the program since his freshman season.

“I really feel bad for him,” Mussman said. “As a senior, you want to play that last game. We’ll be without one of our senior leaders and a guy who has played a lot of football.”

Sutton played extensively since he was a freshman and his first touchdown came against Texas Tech. He is one of 16 seniors who have helped lead UND through its transition to Division I football.

He finished with 65 yards last week against SUU, and most of his yards came between the tackles when UND needed yardage the most.

UND is off this week and will wrap up its season at Northern Colorado.

UND likely will take three running backs to Northern Colorado. Jake Miller, who leads the team with 489 yards, will get the bulk of reps at running back. Jer Garman and P.J. Sparks likely will round out the group.

Sparks hasn’t carried the ball since UND’s season opener.

A week off this late in the season isn’t ideal, but it does give UND time to heal, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

Mussman said the defense has been hit hard by injury this season. “But that’s not an excuse,” he said.

Starting linebackers Garrison Goodman, Damon Andrews and Myles Jablonski are out for the season, as is cornerback Daryl Brown.

“We’re going to throw everyone out there we can,” Mussman said.

UND is 3-4 in the Big Sky Conference and 5-5 overall. The lone remaining goal for the program is to end its first season as a full FCS member with a winning record.

Northern Colorado was winless last season but has three wins this season.

UND beat the Bears 27-25 last season.

Nelson writes for the Grand Forks Herald