Minnesota Crookston falls to 0-9 (0-5 NSIC North) despite an all-around effort from all of their units.
The University of Minnesota Crookston football team put up their best effort of the season before falling short on a last second play to Minot State University 42-35.
The Golden Eagles were fueled by 22 second-half points as they mounted a comeback after being down 21-13 at the break. However, a Larry Overstreet run with 18 seconds left put the Beavers up 42-35. Minnesota Crookston moved the ball 31 yards on the first two plays of the final drive as they had a first down at the Minot State 34. Joseph Nava (R-Fr., QB, San Antonio, Texas) dropped back for the pass, and moved up in the pocket. Unable to find an open receiver, Nava ran the ball, falling 25 yards short of the goal line. Minot State held on for a 42-35 win in an NSIC North Showdown at Ed Widseth Field in Crookston, Minn.
Minnesota Crookston falls to 0-9 (0-5 NSIC North) despite an all-around effort from all of their units. Minot State moved to 2-7 (2-3 NSIC North) with Saturday’s victory.
Nava had one of his best games in the Maroon and Gold as he went 20-of-25 for 241 yards with a school-record five touchdowns. His one interception in the third quarter set up a touchdown for the Beavers.
Nava’s top targets on the day were Minnesota Crookston’s biggest offensive playmakers. Adam Connette (Sr., WR, Corona, Calif.) finished with seven catches for 88 yards and two touchdowns. His two receiving touchdowns brings him within one touchdown of Carl Aho’s school record of 23 receiving touchdowns in a career. Connette has 234 receptions for 2,706 yards and 22 receiving touchdowns. Rod Stewart (Jr., WR, Fort Worth, Texas) also finished with a big game as he notched five catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns. Stewart is 16 catches from tying Carl Aho for third all-time in receptions. He has 1,387 career receiving yards, needing just 242 yards to tie Mark Olsonawski for third all-time in receiving yards.
Matt Haire (So., WR, Detroit Lakes, Minn.) chipped in four catches for 33 yards, including his first-career touchdown.
The Golden Eagles had their best rushing game of the season with 167 yards on the ground. Kevin Evans (Jr., RB, Groveland, Fla.) paced Minnesota Crookston with 11 carries for 46 yards. Nava added 11 carries for 23 yards.
The Golden Eagles set up their offense well with an impressive return game. Stewart had two returns for 65 yards, including a 55-yard kickoff return. Stewart came into the game averaging 32.3 yards per kickoff return, good enough for sixth in the nation. Connette had two returns for 75 yards, including a long of 46.
Minnesota Crookston held Minot State to 338 yards, which was a season-best for the Minnesota Crookston defense. Trevor Long, Jr. (R-So., DB, Brooklyn Park, Minn.) paced the team with 14 tackles, Will Cole (Jr., DB, Compton, Calif.) notched 10 tackles with one tackle for loss and a team-leading second interception of the season. Will Cross (R-So., LB, Turtle Lake, Wis.) added 10 tackles, while Ali Alkhatib (R-Jr., LB, Rosemount, Minn.) notched eight tackles and a sack. Austin Howard (Sr., DL, New Albany, Miss.) had five tackles and two tackles for loss.
The Beavers started out with the momentum following a 50-yard return of the opening kickoff by Lane Torgerson to put the Minot State offense at the Minnesota Crookston 35-yard line. The touchdown-saving tackle was made by kicker Stephen Day (R-Jr., K/P, Eveleth, Minn.). The Beavers took advantage as Zac Cunha found Ryan Fila on the 35-yard touchdown pass to make it 7-0.
Connette set the Golden Eagles offensive unit up for success as he took the kickoff 46 yards to the Minot State 45. The kicker again came up with the touchdown-saving tackle as Jose Luis Moreno stopped the run-back. Nava found Connette for the nine-yard touchdown strike as the Golden Eagles didn’t put the field position to waste, knotting the game up 7-7.
The Beavers responded with a 12-play, 70-yard drive, culminated by a Cunha 12-yard touchdown pass to Ray Watkins to make it 14-7.
Minot State moved their advantage to 21-7 after going 65 yards on 14 plays to open the second quarter, culminated by a one-yard touchdown rush by Cunha.
The Golden Eagles were again set up for success by another strong return. This time Stewart took the kick back 55 yards to the Minot State 35. Nava again found Connette for the two-yard touchdown strike. A missed extra point by Day made it 21-13 in favor of the Beavers.
Minot State drove down to the Minnesota Crookston 45 late in the second quarter, however Cole came up with a big interception off an Alkhatib tipped pass. The Golden Eagles would run out the clock to go into the break down 21-13.
Minot State was set up early in the third quarter as Nikko Walker picked off a Nava pass, giving the Beavers the ball at the Minnesota Crookston 40. Lucas Butts went in for the one-yard touchdown run to put Minot State ahead 28-13.
The Golden Eagles responded on the ensuing drive set up by a 29-yard return by Connette. Nava found Haire for the seven-yard touchdown strike to cut the Minot State advantage to 28-20.
After a big defensive stop, Minnesota Crookston got the ball back. This time they went 58 yards on seven plays, finished off as Nava found Stewart wide open in the back corner of the end zone. Nava again found Stewart on a fade pattern in the same spot for the two-point conversion to knot the game up 28-28.
The Beavers responded on the following drive as Cunha connected with Levante Bushnell for the seven-yard touchdown pass to go ahead 35-28.
Minnesota Crookston responded soon after as Stewart turned a short pass from Nava into a 62-yard touchdown as he refused to go down on the play. The Golden Eagles knotted the game up 35-35 with under seven minutes left in the game.
Neither team moved the ball much on their following drives. Minot State came up with what would be the game-winning score on the following drive. The Golden Eagles had the Beavers 4th-and-2 at their 26, however a defensive holding penalty gave the Beavers a first down. Overstreet completed the drive with a seven-yard touchdown run to put the Beavers ahead 42-35 with 18 seconds left.
Minnesota Crookston still had a shot after the kickoff went out of bounds, giving the Golden Eagles the ball at the 35. Nava found Stewart for passes of 10 and 21 yards. With the ball on the Minot State 34, Nava went back in the pocket, before stepping up and choosing to run the football. He would fall 25 yards short of the goal line as the Beavers would hang on for the win.
The Golden Eagles will trek to University of Minnesota Duluth for their final road game of the season Sat., Nov. 4 at 1 p.m. in Duluth, Minn.