UMC freshman Mychal Traylor and junior Tyler Hansen stopped Bemidji State running back Avery Walker dead in his tracks in the end zone for a safety with 1:25 left on the clock Saturday to lift Minnesota Crookston over Bemidji State 16-14 during homecoming at Ed Widseth Field.
It was UMC's first win over Bemidji State since 1998 and gives the Golden Eagles possession of the Hub Cap traveling trophy between the two rivals.
"This is amazing and it's nice to have it happen on homecoming," said Golden Eagle junior linebacker Brody Davidson, covered in mud after the win. He finished with 13 tackles and a sack. "This was more fun to play in. It eliminated the passing game so it was more of a one dimensional game but we pulled it together and played well. We will keep working hard and use this as a building block."
As the officials signaled the safety, the Golden Eagles erupted on the sideline and fans of the Maroon and Gold cheered as their squad got their first win of the season and the first win under interim head coach Mike Fritze.
"Obviously this will propel us forward and it's something we can fall back on," said coach Fritze, clutching the Hub Cap Trophy. "We played well and we did not have many penalties. They had a bunch more turnovers. We will have fun with this and it's a result of working hard. This validates what we are doing. We needed this, not just for the football team, but for the school to prove that good things can happen here."
Just two penalties were called in the game, both against UMC for a total of ten yards. Bemidji State fumbled five times and lost three, while Minnesota Crookston had three fumbles and lost one.
"Our special teams maybe had more big plays than anyone," coach Fritze continued. "Coach Robby Case is doing a great job. In the first half they were able to run quite a bit. In the second half we did a nice job of closing the running lanes. Quarterback Kyle Larson was under pressure a lot. He has that moxy and he did not get too rattled."
The Golden Eagles started the scoring with 14:48 left in the second quarter when Larson connected with a wide open Keoni Piceno over the middle of the field. Piceno took it 62 yards for a touchdown. The extra point made it 7-0.
Walker tied the game with 3:03 left in the half with a two-yard touchdown run followed by the extra point.
The Beavers started the second half with a touchdown drive with Walker rushing the ball on all eight plays, including a 35-yard run to set up a one-yard touchdown with 11:16 left. The extra point gave Bemidji State a 14-7 lead.
Page 2 of 2 - The Golden Eagles answered back later in the third quarter when the defense held the Beavers to a three and out and a punt only went seven yards. UMC started at the Beaver 17 but looked to be stalled at fourth and eight on the 15 when Larson took a snap and ran the option left, pitching to Tommy Smith, who broke a couple tackles and reached the ball over as he went down for a touchdown. The extra point tied the game 14-14 with 4:42 left in the third quarter.
Maybe the biggest play of the game for UMC came when the offense went three and out with about seven minutes left in the fourth quarter. Hansen booted a 24-yard punt that brushed the shoulder of an unsuspecting Beaver. UMC's Lethzee Calderon jumped on the loose ball and the Golden Eagles started a new drive at their own 43.
UMC then ate up more than five minutes on the clock before punting and pinning the Beavers at their own three, which set up the eventual safety and the victory.
McBride led the Golden Eagles with 75 rushing yards on 16 carries. Smith had 22 yards on five carries and one touchdown. Talo Pascal had 16 yards on 14 carries.
Larson was 2-for-9 passing for 63 yards with no interceptions and one touchdown He was sacked two times. Piceno had the 62-yard touchdown receptions and Nicholas Exposito had one catch for one yard.
Walker carried the ball 46 times for 265 yards and two touchdowns. Bemidji State quarterback Alex Hass was 3-for-4 passing for 35 yards and was sacked four times.
UMC junior linebacker Andrew Hall led the defense with 16 total tackles, while Davidson had 13.
UMC is now 1-4 on the season and will travel to St. Cloud, Minn. Saturday, Oct. 12 to face St. Cloud State.
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