The University of Minnesota, Morris nearly overcame two fourth-quarter Lawrence touchdowns, but ultimately turnovers and red zone struggles were the Cougars' undoing as they fell 21-17 in the season-ending contest. UMM finishes the 2009 campaign at 4-6.
Lawrence broke the scoreless tie on their second possession in the first quarter with a 61-yard touchdown. After the score, the Cougar defense corrected this breakdown in coverage and kept the Vikings off the board until the fourth quarter.
The Cougars tied the game just before the end of the first when Nate Holleman made a fingertip catch of a Ted Hoffman throw in the back corner of the end zone. It was Holleman's third touchdown in three catches going back to last week's game against MacMurray.
UMM managed a field goal in the third quarter to go up 10-7, but the middle periods really belonged to the UMM defense who kept Lawrence off the board despite two drives starting in Morris territory.
In the middle of the second quarter, with the Cougars facing fourth down on their own 10-yard line, Morris punter Nick Lasserud reached down to pick up a low snap and the play was called dead by the referee saying Lasserud's knee had touched, giving the Vikings the ball on the 2-yard line. Lawrence ran three straight rushing plays, picking up only a yard. Then a false start penalty pushed them back to the six. They decided against a field goal, but their pass attempt on fourth down was stopped on the one when juniors Nate Lund and Adam Gertken hauled down the Vikings receiver just in front of the corner pylon.
The Vikings took the lead at 14-10 on the second play of the fourth quarter on a 12-yard touchdown pass.
The Cougars responded quickly on the next series when two former Hancock Owls connected. A Derrick Foss pass to Holleman covered 60 yards for Holleman's second touchdown of the game.
Lawrence regained the lead two possessions later on a third and 29 Hail Mary.
Trailing now 21-17 with nine minutes remaining, the Cougars had three shots at the Vikings' end zone. Two possessions stalled at the Vikings' 10 on downs. The last drive, started with just 36 seconds on the game clock, was turned away by a Lawrence interception with 11 seconds left.
Though the loss was disappointing for the Cougars, it put final punctuation on an improved campaign from 2008 and with a lot of young talent in the lineup who gained valuable playing experience this season.
It was the final game for nine seniors who were recognized before kickoff.
#1 - defensive back Corey Hemphill-Crowder
#3 - linebacker Cole Baker
#4 - running back Ernest Tucker
#20 - defensive back Shane Fickes
#25 - linebacker Scott Barta
#44 - defensive tackle Matt Howell
#53 - offensive lineman Theo Powell
#89 - tight end Nick Laven
#99 - defensive end and captain Paul Carlson