Dec. 6, 2008

Courtesy of Minn.-Duluth Athletics

Isaac Odim scored four touchdowns and the University of Minnesota Duluth defense once again took care of business on the other side of the football as UMD rolled to a 45-7 victory over host California University of Pennsylvania in the NCAA Division II semifinals Saturday afternoon.

With the win the No. 6 Bulldogs punched their ticket to next Saturday’s NCAA II title game in Florence, Ala. while moving to a perfect 14-0 on the season. They are the first Bulldog team in any sport to ever advance that far in NCAA II postseason play.

“I don't want to say that today's game was perfect but we played pretty close to that,“ said UMD head coach Bob Nielson, whose Bulldogs have now won 15 straight games and have trailed just once during that entire time.  “I'm really proud of our football team and how we responded coming off the big win against Grand Valley last week and played, without question, our best football game of the year."

It was a record-breaking afternoon for Odim as the sophomore running back broke 32-year old single-season marks for rushing yardage (he now has 1,569), rushing touchdowns (25) and total touchdowns (28). The Rochester, Minn. native ran for 126 yards – including a career-best 51-yard scoring jaunt which gave UMD the 31-0 third-quarter lead – on 17 carries and now has eclipsed the 100-yard barrier in seven straight games.

Playing before a national television audience for the second time this fall, the Bulldogs also got touchdowns from sophomore Brad Foss (a nine-yard run) and senior wide receiver Tony Doherty (a four-yard pass reception which closed out the scoring) and 23-yard field goal from freshman David Nadeau. UMD rolled up 451 yards of total offense, 211 of which came in the first half when it jumped out to a 17-0 lead.  Bulldog senior quarterback Ted Schlafke, who was making his school-record tying 46th consecutive start, connected on 12 of 21 passes for 141 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

UMD came into the afternoon sporting the nation’s second toughest defense against the run and held the No. 7 Vulcans to just 56 yards (almost 150 yards below their season average) on 27 attempts.  Sophomore inside linebacker Robbie Aurich was credited with game-high 11 total tackles while senior strong safety Jim Johnson had eight stops and a pair of interceptions. The Bulldogs have allowed just three touchdowns in their three playoff games to date.

The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference champion Vulcans who were hosting their second NCAA II semifinal game in as many years, finished 12-2.

UMD will travel to Florence, Ala. next Saturday in search for its first NCAA II football title against the winner of the Northwest Missouri State and North Alabama semifinal match-up.  The national championship will kickoff at 12:00 pm (CST) and be televised nationally on ESPN 2.

"We've done a really job all year of getting to the next game and we're not done yet," said Schlafke, the 2008 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Offensive Player of the Year.  "15-and-0 sounds better than 14-and-1 and that's been our goal all year.  Right now it (national championship) is in our grasp and we want to take advantage of it."