Explosive First Half Lifts MSUM Football Past Northern State

The Minnesota State University Moorhead football team built a 35-7 halftime lead

MOORHEAD, Minn. — The Minnesota State University Moorhead football team built a 35-7 halftime lead and went on to beat Northern State, 42-28 in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference action Saturday at Scheels Field at Nemzek Stadium.

MSUM is now 2-1 overall and in the NSIC North while Northern State fell to 1-2 overall and in the north. The two teams have split the last six meetings.

Sophomore quarterback Jakup Sinani was 23-of-36 passing for 238 yards and three scores while rushing for 62 yards on eight carries. Sophomore running back Zach Simons rushed for 84 yards and two scores on 4 carries. Redshirt freshman Ty Jochim had a rushing touchdown. MSUM out rushed the Wolves 218-126.

Sophomore receiver Grady Bresnahan had 11 catches for 97 yards and a score. Sophomore receiver Jake Richter had four catches for 84 yards and a score while junior Zach Sweep had four catches for 25 yards and a score. Sophomore running back Denver Colgrove had 62 rushing yards.

“Jakup did a great job spreading the ball around,” MSUM head coach Steve Laqua said. “Our receivers did a great job blocking and we turned some short throws into big plays.”

Senior safety Aaron Doan had 14 tackles while senior cornerback Jerry Raye had nine tackles and blocked a key field goal in the first half. Junior cornerback Deiondre Taylor and sophomore safety Shad Vedaa had interceptions; Vedaa also forced a fumble. Sophomore defensive linemen Jordan Magnuson had a forced fumble and fumble recovery.

Several big plays ignited the Dragons in the first half. Vedaa intercepted a pass on the Wolves’ first offensive series, and later, with the field position established, converted that into a touchdown as Zach Simons scored from 1-yard out. Sinani’s 34-yard run set up the touchdown.

Northern drove into Dragon territory, but Raye blocked a 34-yard field goal attempt and Vedaa returned it to midfield. Two plays later, Simons scored from 29 yards out to give the Dragons a 14-0 lead with 2:32 left in the half.

“I was really pleased with the energy we came out with,”  Laqua said. “The defense created some momentum for us.”

Sinani hit Bresnahan for an 8-yard score to make it 21-0 in the third quarter, and Northern answered with a touchdown to cut the lead. Sinani  connected with Sweep for an 8-yard touchdown to answer to make it 28-7 with 7:18 left in the first half. In the final minute of the half Jochim found the end zone to make it 35-7.

In the second quarter, Sinani was 12-of-13 passing for 124 yards and a score.

A Bresnahan 23-yard return set up a 14-yard scoring pass from Sinani to Richter early in the second half to make it 42-7.

The Wolves cut into the lead, but the Dragon defense forced two key turnovers in the red zone. One was an interception in the end zone by Taylor and the other was Magnuson’s forced fumble and recovery inside the 5.

MSUM plays at UMary next week in the Battle for the Paddle. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. in Bismarck, N.D.

Steve d’Eustachio Stat of the Game: Today was the first game the Dragons played at home and won after suffering at least a 50-point loss on the road the previous week since getting crunched 58-3 at Winona State on Sept. 11, 2010, then bouncing back and winning 28-24 versus Upper Iowa a week later in Moorhead.

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