The University of Minnesota, Morris football team made it two in a row Saturday with a 20-14 win over Westminster, at a bright and sunny Big Cat Stadium.
The Cougars (2-0, 2-0) went into halftime up 13-0 and led 20-0 late in the fourth before the Blue Jays (1-1, 0-1) finally got on the board. The UMM defense was the story of the game, limiting Westminster to just 151 yards of total offense while forcing four turnovers on the day.
The opportunistic Nate Lund was responsible for two of those turnovers, finishing with a fumble recovery and an interception to go along with four tackles (0.5 TFL) and a pass break up.
Also notching takeaways on the day was Matt Zdrazil with a fumble recovery and Chase Abfalter with an interception.
Coming off a game where they had over 400 yards of offense, the Blue Jays were held to just 13 yards in the first quarter and just one first down. In the second quarter they gained just 36 yards, and only 30 in the third. When they finally put a scoring drive together there was just over five minutes remaining in the game and it took a short field to do so.
Westminster did make things interesting late though, with their second score in under three minutes, set up by a 44-yard punt return down to the five-yard line. After a short run and two incomplete passes, the Blue Jays connected on a two-yard scoring strike to come within six at 20-14. After a successful two-point attempt on their first touchdown, the Blue Jays had their PAT kick blocked after their second score.
The Blue Jays had one last drive in the final two minutes with a chance to win the game, but as they had been all day, the Cougar defense was up to the task forcing four incomplete passes to seal the victory.
The scoring began with a 22-yard field goal from Matt Privratsky late in the first quarter, giving the Cougars the early lead. The kick capped a seven-play, 41-yard drive, taking three minutes off the clock.
Less than five minutes later the Cougars were up 10-0 when Lendro Dower capped off a two-play sprint of a drive with a six-yard plunge for his second touchdown of the year.
One play earlier Dower nearly found the endzone after breaking free around the left side, but a toe on the sideline marked him at the six after a 19-yard run. Dower would finish with 38 yards on the day. The two-play drive was set up by a Blue Jay fumble on a punt return, giving the Cougars the ball at the 25-yard line, going in.
After halftime the Cougars put together a 12-play, 70-yard drive to go up 20-0 and effectively put the game away. Derrick Foss and Daniel Comacho connected on an 18-yard touchdown pass for the score, a career first for the freshman wide receiver.
Foss finished 8-of-20 for 117 yards on the day, with the one touchdown, while Daniel Garrigan finished 5-of-9 for 70 yards through the air.
John Russow caught four passes for a game-high 75 yards, and was joined in the leader board by Nate Holleman who hauled in three passes for 56 yards.
Adam Gertken led the defense with eight stops, with fellow linebacker Josh Ledin adding seven tackles, including two for a loss of three-yards.
Mitch Zimmer tied a team high with three solo stops, on his way to six total tackles which included two sacks and three tackles for a loss.
The Cougars spent much of the day in the Blue Jay backfield, finishing with three sacks and 11 tackles for loss, totaling nearly 30-yards in the wrong direction for Westminster.
The Cougars will get back on the road now for the next two weeks, first facing Wisconsin Lutheran on Sept. 18. After a trip to Eureka, Ill. on Sep. 25, UMM gets a week off to open October, and will return to action at home on Oct. 9 to host Martin Luther on Homecoming.