The University of Minnesota, Morris football team lost 46-16 to visiting Northwestern College Saturday afternoon at Big Cat Stadium.
Despite losing by 30 points, the Cougars posted some encouraging statistics. They outgained the opponent by 23 yards, held a 2-to-1 advantage in time of possession, and completed better than 50 percent of their passes for 268 yards. Unfortunately, the Cougars were only 2-for-5 in the red zone and threw four interceptions.
With three games to go, the Cougars can still post a 5-5 record. A .500 season is something that, head coach Todd Hickman told his team after the game, has only been done twice in the last 20 years.
Once again, the Cougars moved the ball well on offense, through the air and on the ground. Quarterbacks Derrick Foss, Daniel Garrigan and Ted Hoffman together threw for 268 yards. Running backs Robert Koranda and Ernest Tucker collectively had a 100-yard day averaging four yards a carry. Receivers Brady Rose and John Russow each had 100 plus yards in catches.
Most of these numbers were racked up between the 20s, as UMM stalled in the red zone on three drives, coming away with no points.
Senior wideout Matt Throngard blamed the red zone challenges on efficiency.
"We're missing blocks, dropping balls, making bad reads. Hopefully next week we can do better than 50 percent, that's for sure."
Defensively, except for a couple lapses, the Cougars held a very good offense well below their season average of 400 yards per game.
"I think we did a better job of limiting the big plays," said senior defensive back James Watkins. "We still did give up a few but nowhere near as many as we did against Crown... We need to work on doing our job individually because it's a gap assignment defense. If everyone does their job, it works."
The difference in the game turned out to be turnovers. Five of them, to be exact--four interceptions and a fumble. Two of those picks went back for Northwestern touchdowns and the fumble gave the Eagles easy access to a 26-yard field goal.
Northwestern held a 15-0 advantage until the 1:35 mark of the second quarter when the Cougars' Josh Ledin got Morris on the board with a safety to make it 15-2.
With forty second remaining in the first half, Northwestern scored a touchdown on a 48-yard interception return.
The Cougars answered with only 10 second before halftime when Garrigan' one-yard run and a Matt Privratsky kick put the score at 22-9.
Another interception return and touchdown pass increased Northwestern's lead to 36-9 in the third quarter.
Northwestern added another touchdown and a field goal in the fourth quarter, before the Cougars' Tucker scored on a one-yard run for the final 46-16 score.
This week the Cougars travel to the Cities on Friday for Domeday at the Mall of America Dome in Minneapolis where they'll face Macalester College at 11 a.m.