College football: Minnesota Duluth back on track, prevails over St. Cloud in Battle for the Bone
Thirty-two times Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference North Division opponents have tried to exit James S. Malosky Stadium with a victory in tow -- and 32 times they have failed.
The latest of those unsuccessful attempts came Thursday night on the University of Minnesota Duluth campus where the host Bulldogs took down St. Cloud State University 34-21. In the process, UMD also claimed first rights to "The Bone" trophy for winning the annual matchup between these two long-time interstate rivals, who are now both 3-2 on the year.
Junior running back Anthony Wood, a transfer from Fullerton (Calif.) College, rushed for a UMD season-high 128 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries while helping the Bulldogs post their first home win of the year. Wood opened the scoring with a five-yard touchdown run five minutes into the game and gave the Bulldogs a lead (7-0) it would never relinquish. UMD went into halftime up 20-7 thanks to sophomore quarterback Ben Everhart's pair of 52-yard scoring strikes to senior wide outs James Conner and Dominic Bonner. Bonner went on to haul in another touchdown reception (from nine yards) from Everhart in the third quarter and junior wide out Jason Balts did likewise three plays into the fourth quarter. That did it for Everhart, who wound up completing 10 of 19 passes for 183 yards and the four touchdowns. He also added another 81 yards on the ground on 14 carries.
"This was the first time we've played a complete game this season," said fifth-year UMD head coach Curt Wiese, who is 5-0 lifetime against St. Cloud State. "Offense, defense, special teams -- everyone had a hand in tonight's win. It was a solid effort and our guys came out of the locker room with a lot of energy and then executed."
The Bulldogs one-upped the Huskies in virtually every statistical category, including total yards (471 to 283), rushing yards (288 to 76), time of possession (UMD held the ball for just 37 of the 60 minutes) and first downs (21 of 14). Both the total yards and rushing yards were 2017 bests for UMD, which also converted on 8 of 15 third down conversions while the Huskies went a mere 2-for-11. Junior inside linebacker A.J. Naatz was one of three Bulldogs to register a team-high five tackles and had 2.0 sacks as well. UMD's seemingly relentless pressure on St. Cloud State quarterback Justin Czech resulted in six QB hurries and three sacks.
UMD, which has reeled off seven straight home victories over the Huskies, is 32-0 all-time versus North Division foes since the NSIC began divisional play in 2008.
The Bulldogs will now take their show on the road for the next two weeks, starting with an Oct. 7 clash at Minnesota State University-Moorhead.