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Cougars run to 28-3 win over MacMurray

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The University of Minnesota, Morris offense racked up nearly 400 yards  - including 290 on the ground - as the Cougars opened the season with a 28-3 victory over visiting MacMurray Saturday at Big Cat Stadium.

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Back on the game field for the first time since last season's finale was snowed out, the Cougars quickly shook off the rust, putting together a complete performance for the win. Todd Gramenz and Leandro Dower each went over 100 yards on the ground, while the Cougar defense held the Highlanders to just 80. Morris held MacMurray to just 133 total yards, better than any mark from last season.

"Holding them down to 100 (yards of offense), that was our goal coming in," defensive lineman Matt Anderson said. "Coach (Raven) Battle adjusted really well. Overall the first half went well for me, in the second I missed a couple tackles and sacks."

Anderson ended the game with three solo and five total tackles including one for a loss of three yards. Caleb Forstrom had a big day for the defense, registering three tackles for a loss of 14 yards, while the Cougars racked up nine for a loss of 37 yards.

Gramenz had two scores, while Dower got the Cougars on the board first with his off tackle 45-yarder in the first quarter. UMM's offensive day was capped by a William Paine 12-yard touchdown reception from Derrick Foss in the fourth.

MacMurray was allowed just a single, second-quarter field goal, and had 9:20 of possession in the entire second half.

After leading just 7-3 at halftime, the Cougars came out of the break and quickly set the tempo, rattling off three straight touchdowns through the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter. Gramenz scored on runs of 11 and six yards, capping off nine- and six-play drives, respectively. He ran for 116 yards.

Dower set a career high, finishing with 119 yards on the ground and one score, but nearly had more. The sophomore had a 50-yard run to the endzone in the third quarter called back, negated by a holding call. On the one that counted, he hit off the left side and out-ran the defense up the sideline to  give the Cougars a lead they would never lose at 7-0.

The Cougar defense responded with a three-and-out, one of six times they held the Highlanders without a first down. The Morris defense also logged four series where they held MacMurray to negative yards, including a three-play, negative-12-yard drive early in the third quarter after the Cougars' final touchdown, erasing whatever slim chance of a comeback that may have still lingered.

MacMurray punted eight times in the game, and their longest drive was just 4:59 as they settled for a field goal.

The Cougars had five drives of eight plays or more, including their 10-play, 57-yard set to put the game away early in the fourth. After taking over near midfield, Foss capped the drive by hitting Paine out in front of the left side of the endzone, while Paine walked in to do the rest.

"We scored 28 points," head coach Todd Hickman said after the game. "I think we controlled the time of possession, our defense just did a wonderful job. We need to get better each week and we want to represent our school well and we want to play with effort, and want to play 100 percent."

The Cougars' next chance to represent UMM comes Saturday on the road when they travel to New Ulm to take on Martin Luther. Morris will be looking to avenge last season's 28-21 loss to the Knights at home. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.

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