TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Sophomore Tony Abenoja completed 26 of 36 passes for a school record 378 yards and two touchdowns to lead No. 1 Pittsburg State, the defending Division II champions, to a 41-20 season-opening victory against MIAA newcomer Northeastern State.
Abenoja directed the Gorillas (1-0, 1-0 MIAA) to a score on their first drive of the season, hitting junior wide receiver John Brown in the end zone from eight yards out to cap a 12-play, 87-yard drive. Abenoja connected with Brown nine times in the game for 140 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also tossed a three-yard second-quarter touchdown to sophomore tight end Brady Letchworth as Pitt State took a 21-6 lead at the intermission over NSU (0-1, 0-1 MIAA).
Abenoja, who passed Andy Majors’ record 358 yards in the contest, shook off a pair of interceptions in the contest to post the big night in his Pitt State starting debut. Overall, the Gorillas overcame four turnovers, including a pair inside the River Hawks 25-yard line.
No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth 45, Southwest Minnesota State 20
MARSHALL, Minn. — No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth used a strong rushing attack to pull away in the second half and earn a 45-20 victory against Southwest Minnesota State in NSIC play on Thursday night in Marshall.
UMD finished the game with 243 yards rushing and racked up 479 yards of total offense. Logan Lauters led the Bulldogs with 104 yards rushing and one touchdown on nine carries, while Austin Sikorski added 57 yards and two touchdowns on 12 attempts.
SMSU quarterback Tyler Peschong completed 28 of 47 passes for 304 yards and one touchdown, with wide out Tyler Erickson tying a career-high with seven receptions for 89 yards. The Mustang offense finished with 386 yards of offense, with 82 yards on the ground.
UMD held a slight 18-13 halftime lead, but pulled away in the second half with 27 points, in earning its seventh consecutive victory against SMSU since 1999.
No. 3 Northwest Missouri State 33, East Central 3
MARYVILLE, Mo. — No. 3 Northwest Missouri overcame four turnovers by forcing four of its own on the way to a 33-3 season opening victory against East Central. The Bearcat defense held ECU to just 292 yards of total offense and only 48 yards on the ground.
Trevor Adams threw for 201 yards and a touchdown while also scoring one on the ground. Brandon Dixon had two interceptions for the Bearcats.
No. 6 Colorado State-Pueblo 44, No. 24 West Texas A&M 34
PUEBLO, Colo. — No. 6 Colorado State-Pueblo succeeded in a big test Thursday night, opening its season against a 24th-ranked West Texas A&M squad with a win as the ThunderWolves posted a rousing 44-34 win.
CSU-Pueblo sophomore J.B. Matthews rushed for 186 yards and two touchdowns while the ThunderWolves offense accounted for 516 yards of total offense — the second-most yards gained by a ThunderWolf team since the program returned to the field in 2008. The Pack posted its fifth consecutive season-opening win, including its second in a row against nationally-ranked West Texas A&M.
WTAMU quarterback Dustin Vaughan threw for 380 yards, while Torrence Allen led all receivers with 164 yards.
No. 7 Grand Valley State 48, Western Oregon 20
MONMOUTH, Ore. — Big plays and pounding the ball on the ground paid off for No. 7 Grand Valley State came in to McArthur Field and earned a 48-20 against Western Oregon on Saturday.
This was the first home lost for the Wolves in seven game dating back to the 2010 season.
Grand Valley State running back rushed for 99 yards and two touchdowns, while Heath Parling threw for 159 yards and a touchdown.
The Lakers recorded five sacks and three interceptions.
Saginaw Valley State 28, No. 8 Valdosta State 24
UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mich. — Michael Albrecht’s 27-yard touchdown catch with 1:01 remaining in the game propelled Saginaw Valley State to a 28-24 victory against No. 8 Valdosta State in non-conference action.
|VALDOSTA STATE VS. SAGINAW VALLEY ST.|
The Albrecht catch capped off an 11-play, 80-yard drive and was the fourth touchdown pass of the night for Cardinal quarterback Jonathon Jennings.
Valdosta State threatened on its ensuing drive as Matt Pierce returned the kickoff to the VSU 46. A 19-yard pass to Gerald Ford followed, but a sack and three incomplete passes, the last just out off the fingertips of Regginald Lewis in the end zone, ended the VSU threat.
Valdosta State tallied 393 yards of total offense, including 95 yards rushing by Scott as well as 183 yards passing by Graham Craig, who entered the game at quarterback in the second half and completed 12 of 19 passes.
Chris Pope led the defense with 16 tackles and a fumble recovery as the Blazer offense tallied four turnovers on the night.
No. 9 Winston-Salem 28, UNC Pembroke 23
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Visiting UNCP amassed nearly 400 yards of total offense, but ninth-ranked Winston-Salem tallied a pair of momentum-changing interceptions and stopped a potential game-winning drive to hold off the Braves 28-23.
Junior Te’vell Williams hauled in eight catches for 127 yards and a pair of touchdowns to pace the Braves who also got 94 rushing yards and a third quarter score from Damonte Terry. Luke Charles threw for 281 yards on 32-of-46 passing with two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions for the Black & Gold as well.
Maurice Lewis rushed for 135 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 27 carries for Winston-Salem State who improved to 3-0 all-time against UNC Pembroke. Jamal Williams caught five passes for 103 yards, while Kameron Smith completed 15 of his 22 pass attempts for 190 yards and a second quarter scoring toss.
No. 10 Abilene Christian 51, McMurry 0
ABILENE, Texas — Sophomore defensive end Nick Richardson had six of his team’s nine sacks as 10th-ranked Abilene Christian introduced McMurry to division II with a 51-0 win in both teams’ season opener.
Richardson’s six sacks tied the ACU record set by James Henderson in 1997, and led a Wildcat defense that held McMurry to 301 total yards, all but 12 yards of it through the air, broke up six passes and recovered a fumble. Warhawk quarterback Jake Mullin completed 37 of 59 passes for 289 yards. His counterpart, preseason division II Player-of-the-Year Mitchell Gale, completed 19 of 28 passes for 290 yards and one TD in three quarters of play.
Both teams played a scoreless first quarter before a crowd of 11,337, but ACU scored on seven straight possessions to start the second quarter. Charcandrick West’s 13-yard run, redshirt freshman Travis Tarver’s two-yard dive and a nine-yard pass from quarterback Gale to wide receiver Taylor Gabriel powered the Wildcats to a 21-0 halftime lead.
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