Minnesota Crookston's lone score came from a kickoff return for a touchdown by Rod Stewart.
Minnesota State University Moorhead put up over 600 yards of offense to capture their fourth-consecutive victory in the Red River Valley Showdown over University of Minnesota Crookston. The Golden Eagles struggled to get much going offensively as they produced just 108 yards of offense. Defensively, Minnesota Crookston was on the field for over 38 minutes as the Dragons controlled the pace of the game.
MSU Moorhead captures the State Farm Traveling Trophy to move to 3-5 (1-3 NSIC) with their first NSIC North win. The Golden Eagles drop to 0-8 (0-4 NSIC) after Saturday’s loss.
The Golden Eagles were led on the day by the highlight reel return game of Rod Stewart (Jr., WR, Fort Worth, Texas), who had five returns for 201 yards for an average of 40.2 yards per kickoff return. The pinnacle of his day came with a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, the first of the season for Stewart.
Joseph Nava (R-Fr., QB, San Antonio, Texas) got the start at quarterback and went 12-of-25 for 75 yards. Jeremy Neuman (R-Fr., QB, Andover, Minn.) came off the bench to go 0-of-2 with one interception.
UMC continued to struggle in the run game as Nava led the way with 12 carries for 27 yards. Kevin Evans (Jr., RB, Groveland, Fla.) added nine carries for six yards.
Stewart led the receivers with five catches for 42 yards. Adam Connette (Jr., WR, Corona, Calif.) notched five catches for 25 yards.
Defensively, Brendan Kinnee (Fr., LB, Buckeye, Ariz.) had an impressive second start of the season as he led the team in tackles for a second-consecutive game. Kinnee notched 14 tackles on the day. Ali Alkhatib (R-Jr., LB, Rosemount, Minn.) added 12 tackles and a half tackle for loss. Donovan Baker (Fr., DB, Tampa, Fla.) notched 10 tackles and a tackle for loss. Austin Howard (Sr., DL, New Albany, Miss.) chipped in seven tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a half sack.
MSU Moorhead produced 642 yards of offense with 249 on the ground and 393 through the air, Back-up quarterback Jakup Sinani got the start and went 27-of-34 for 378 yards with three touchdowns on the day. Trent Ricker finished 3-of-4 for 15 yards off the bench.
In the run game, the Dragons looked to Jonathan Kabambi with 15 carries for 158 yards and two touchdowns.
The Dragons’ star receiver Damon Gibson was hurt early on in the game after running a few plays out of the wildcat formation. Gibson rushed two times for one yard. Hunter Braaten guided the passing attack as he was dominant on the swing pass with 15 catches for 136 yards.
Hayden Swartz notched six receptions for 145 yards and a touchdown. Grady Bresnahan finished with two catches for 61 yards and a touchdown, while Daniel Grande had two grabs for 29 yards and a touchdown.
The Dragons looked defensively to Derek Porozinski with two sacks. Jared Magnuson added a sack. Michael Strand notched four tackles. Grant Reuer notched three tackles and an interception, while Casey Paskey had four tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.
MSU Moorhead drove 75 yards on 19 plays on the first drive, culminating with a one-yard touchdown run by Sinani.
The Golden Eagles came up with a defensive stop the next time out after the Dragons had moved the ball to the Minnesota Crookston 33. Ben Branscom (R-Fr., DL, Woodbury, Minn.) stopped Herman Gray for no yards on a rush and Baker forced an incompletion as the Dragons gave the ball over to Minnesota Crookston.
However, the Golden Eagles would struggle to get the offense going as they punted the ball back to the Dragons.
The Dragons extended their lead to 14-0 as Kabambi ended a 60-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown rush.
Minnesota Crookston quickly took the momentum back as Stewart took the kickoff return into a pack of Dragons on the left side, but he refused to go down as he appeared out of the pile switching directions across the field to the right where he found daylight up the side line. He would run to pay dirt putting a stamp on a 94-yard highlight reel return to cut the lead to 14-7.
“That was pretty much 100 percent Rod,” Head Coach Mark Dufner said. “That’s something we’d probably being saying ‘no’ on the sideline and then were happy with the result.”
MSU Moorhead quickly regained the momentum when Sinani found Bresnahan on a 55-yard strike to make it 21-7.
The Dragons got a short field soon after when Nava dropped the ball in the backfield. The ball was recovered by MSU Moorhead’s Magnuson. MSU Moorhead would find the end zone when Sinani connected with Grande on a nine-yard strike to make it 28-7.
UMC moved the ball to the MSU Moorhead 31 on the next drive led by a 21-yard strike from Nava to Stewart and an 11-yard pass from Nava to Connette. However, the Dragons would come up with a fourth down stop as the Golden Eagles turned the ball over on downs.
The Dragons responded with a touchdown as Sinani found Swartz on the 17-yard pass to make it 35-7, culminating a 28-point second quarter for MSU Moorhead.
Minnesota Crookston moved the ball into MSU Moorhead territory in the third quarter led by a 16-yard pass from Nava to Stewart, followed by a personal foul. However, the Golden Eagles would turn the ball over at the Dragons 37-yard line.
The Dragons lifted the lid on the second-half scoring on the ensuing drive when Kabambi rushed in for the three-yard touchdown run. He was set up by his own 67-yard rush on the previous play.
MSU Moorhead added to their lead in the fourth quarter as Zach Simons rushed in for an eight-yard touchdown to make it 49-7.
With three games remaining, Dufner stressed the importance of continuing to keeping up the morale.
“We got to stay positive,” Dufner said. “We got to keep battling here and keep giving good effort. The biggest thing is we got to stay together as a team. It’s easy to hang our heads, look at the record and feel sorry for ourselves and we can’t do that. We got to regroup on Monday and get after it.”
Minnesota Crookston remains at home Sat., Oct. 28 as they take on Minot State University at 1 p.m.