Martin Luther's option offense generated big gains, as the Knights racked up 433 yards on the ground in a 45-20 win over the University of Minnesota, Morris Saturday at New Ulm.
The Cougars burst out of the gate with their first possession. Jerrod Nohner rambled 61 yards with the opening kickoff to the Knights' 19-yard line. Two plays later, Nohner caught a 10-yard pass from quarterback Derrick Foss, bringing the Cougars to a first and goal at the seven where running back Robert Koranda finished the drive with a rushing touchdown.
The Knights roared back on the next possession, running the ball on five of six plays on a 70-yard drive that culminated in a 14-yard touchdown run. The Knights missed the extra point and trailed 7-6 with less than five minutes gone in the first quarter.
The Cougars answered back, but a penalty and interception stalled the drive. Foss hit two long passes, moving the Cougars into Knights' territory, with a 16-yard throw to tight end Brady Rose and a 31-yard connection with John Russow at Martin Luther's 19-yard line. After an Ernest Tucker rush for no gain, the Cougars went back to the air. Foss' completion to Koranda was nullified by an ineligible receiver penalty, giving the Cougars a second and 17 on the Martin Luther 26. Two plays later, Foss was intercepted.
The teams traded punts on the next two series, then Martin Luther ripped off two runs for 21 and 24 yards. Two plays later, a 28-yard touchdown pass gave the Knights a 14-7 lead.
The Cougars again responded with an impressive drive. With quarterback Daniel Garrigan now at the helm, UMM drove into Knights territory on the strength of runs by Koranda and Tucker. But faced with a second and seven at the Martin Luther 17-yard line, Garrigan was sacked on consecutive plays, leaving the Cougars with a fourth down outside of field goal range, forcing them to punt.
Martin Luther staged a long drive, eating up seven minutes in the second quarter. The Knights capped it with a 30-yard field goal for a 17-7 lead going into halftime.
The Knights took advantage of a long kickoff return to score quickly opening the second half. With the ball on the UMM 40, Martin Luther needed only two plays to get in the end zone from nine yards out.
But, as they had in the first half, the Cougars marched back downfield again only to be thwarted by some bad luck in Martin Luther territory. After a 31-yard pass from Foss to Rose and the ball on the Knights' 16, the Cougars went out on downs, unable to convert or pull into field goal range.
The Knights took advantage of this lapse in momentum to put the game out of reach. Going 90 yards in 10 plays, Martin Luther finished the drive with a touchdown, rushing in from 20 yards out, and giving the Knights a 31-7 lead.
The Cougars scored a couple touchdowns late. Foss hit Rose for his second touchdown of the day and later connected with Josh Hiltner for another score. Foss finished the day with three touchdowns on 21 of 39 passing for 240 yards.
The Knights' offense tallied a couple more touchdowns for a 45-20 final.
The Cougars gained 320 yards on the afternoon, but could not stop a mighty Martin Luther attack that amassed 533 total yards.
Defensively, safety Nate Lund and cornerback James Watkins led the team in tackles with nine and eight, respectively.