The Golden Eagles will square off against another winless team.
The University of Minnesota Crookston heads to Bismarck, N.D. Sat., Oct. 14 to take on University of Mary at 1 p.m. The game will be U-Mary's homecoming. It will pit two 0-6 (0-2 NSIC North) teams who are both looking to break into the win column on the weekend.
Both teams have played close games over the last five seasons with the Marauders winning the last four. The last Minnesota Crookston win in the series came Nov. 10, 2012 with the Golden Eagles winning 37-36 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. Minnesota Crookston broke through on a Talo Pascal touchdown with a Richard Haley two-point conversion in the final seconds.
Minnesota Crookston comes into the weekend with an 0-6 (0-2 NSIC North) mark. The Golden Eagles made great progress last weekend against St. Cloud State as they had their best offensive output of the season and played strong on special teams. The key this weekend will be getting all three units on the same page.
The Golden Eagles were led last weekend by four passing touchdowns from Jeremy Neuman. Whether it is Neuman or Joseph Nava at quarterback, Minnesota Crookston now knows that both are capable. Nava can beat you with both his legs and through the air, while Neuman is a more traditional quarterback. Neuman did a great job of finding his top two targets in Rod Stewart and Adam Connette against the Huskies. Both players had big days with two touchdown receptions apiece. Stewart and Connette will continue to be keys in every game the rest of the game.
Minnesota Crookston continues to struggle overall with their run-game as they are averaging just 65.3 yards per game on the ground. The Golden Eagles had some positive signs against St. Cloud State as back-up running back Shavez Hawkins, Jr. found some success after Kevin Evans struggled. Hawkins rushed 12 times for 54 yards for 4.5 yards per carry against St. Cloud State. Minnesota Crookston hopes to get more consistent production from either of their backs heading into the U-Mary game.
Defensively, the Golden Eagles come in allowing 535.0 yards per game with 256.7 through the air and 278.3 yards per game on the ground. The key this weekend will be containing U-Mary’s option game as they are a run-first offense going against a team that has struggled at times to contain the run. Will Cole has led the way with a strong junior season at safety. Cole has 52 tackles with 1.5 tackles for loss and an interception. Ali Alkhatib has also been strong with 48 tackles, four tackles for loss and a half sack, while Will Cross has notched 45 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a half sack. On the defensive line, Austin Howard and Ben Branscom have caused the most havoc with 1.5 sacks on the season. Howard has 4.5 tackles for loss, while Branscom and Devante Nutall have notched three tackles for loss.
On special teams, Stephen Day is coming off a strong day punting against St. Cloud State has he averaged nearly 50 yards a punt with three punts downed inside the 20-yard line.
The Marauders run an unconventional offense with the triple option attack. U-Mary comes in tallying 275.5 yards of offense per game with 205.2 yards per game on the ground and just 70.3 per game through the air. U-Mary has used two quarterbacks this season with Garrett Weissinger and Colton Farmer. Weissinger passed for 112 yards versus Bemidji State. Farmer has been the better rusher this season with 190 yards on the ground, while Weissinger has notched 135 yards rushing. DeShawn Gay leads the team with 275 yards rushing and two touchdowns on the year, while Paul Guptill has notched 189 yards and Devin Hope has 140 yards rushing on the season.
The top target in the pass game has been Tyson Carney with six catches for 114 yards and a touchdown, while Jordan Beaty has notched two catches for 88 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, U-Mary is giving up 451.5 yards per game overall, including 248.5 yards per game on the ground and 203 yards a game through the air. The Marauders are led by Noah Krebs’ 52 tackles on the season. Jarad Zittleman has 36 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and an interception. Daniel Hudrlik and Brock Pittsley lead the pass-rush. Hudrlik has 2.5 tackles for loss and two sacks, while Pittsley has notched 16 tackles and three sacks.
U-Mary won the last meeting between the two schools 26-13 Oct. 15 at Ed Widseth Field. The Marauders were led by 20 second-half points as they took the victory over the Golden Eagles. The Marauders found success on the ground with 246 yards rushing. Zack Graves led the way with 96 yards on the ground, while Zach Podoll added 66 yards and Farmer had 44 yards. Through the air, Farmer led the way going 11-of-16 for 154 yards and two touchdowns. Nathan Cole led Minnesota Crookston with 219 yards passing. Connette caught seven of Cole’s passes for 94 yards, while Stewart notched four catches for 76 yards and a touchdown.
1. Can the Golden Eagle get the ball in the hands of Rod Stewart and Adam Connette?
2. Who will start at quarterback for the Golden Eagles and what kind of production can he have?
3. Can the defense slow down the triple option attack of the Marauders?
4. Can the defense force U-Mary to pass?
5. Will Minnesota Crookston have a running
back or a running threat step up in the game?