A first-half lead was not enough Saturday, as the University of Minnesota, Morris fell to St. Scholastica 22-16 in Upper Midwest Athletic Conference football action.
For nearly two quarters it appeared the Cougars were poised to be Homecoming spoilers at St. Scholastica. The Cougars ran out to a 16-0 lead in the second quarter, quieting the raucous home crowd. But the Saints regrouped, picked up a first-half touchdown, and then completed the comeback with two more third quarter scores.
In the two-year history of Saints football, it was their program's first conference victory.
The Cougars received the opening kickoff and promptly marched downfield. Behind the running of Robert Koranda and Ernest Tucker, the Cougars crossed deep into Saints territory, but a pair of sacks threatened to stall the drive. On fourth and 13 on the Scholastica 30-yard line, first-year quarterback Daniel Garrigan found tight end Nick Laven for 14 yards and a new set of downs. Two plays later, Tucker rushed in from 12 yards out for the score.
The teams traded punts until late in the first quarter, when the Cougars mounted a second drive, this time from their own 30-yard line. First-year quarterback Derrick Foss converted a pair of third down completions, bringing UMM to the Saints' 2-yard line. Faced with a fourth down, head coach Todd Hickman opted for a field goal, and Matt Privratsky converted.
Down 10-0, the Saints began their first serious drive of the game. A six-minute drive led the Saints to the UMM 5-yard line and a fourth down. Scholastica nixed the field goal try and went to the air again, where Cougar safety Nate Lund intercepted the ball and returned a school record 93 yards for a touchdown, giving UMM a 16-0 lead.
The teams again traded a series of punts before Scholastica took over with 1:07 remaining in the first half. Four straight completions brought the Saints to midfield. After an incomplete pass and a timeout, a 34-yard touchdown pass put the Saints on the board.
Scholastica maintained that momentum on the opening drive of the second half, going 61 yards in nine plays to cut the Cougars' lead to 16-14.
The Saints defense stifled UMM's attempts to score more points. After a five and out series for the Cougars, with 4:53 on the clock, Scholastica went 58 yards on four plays for the go-ahead touchdown and a 22-16 lead that held for the game.
The Cougars threatened one more time when Garrigan completed a 20-yard pass to Koranda that brought UMM to the Saints' 35-yard line with a new set of downs. But Garrigan was sacked on the next two plays. A desperation fourth down pass by Foss was intercepted. The Saints were able to run out the clock after that.
For the game, the Cougars gained 185 yards on offense to the Saints' 347.
This weekend the Cougars will be on the road again at Martin Luther College in New Ulm before returning to Big Cat Stadium to host Crown College for Homecoming on Oct