MOORHEAD, Minn. -- MSU Moorhead football built on their trend of starting fast as the Dragons would earn an early lead and would not look back in their lone non-conference contest against McKendree. MSUM defeated the Bearcats 38-17 in front of their home crowd.
MSUM would begin the game with a stop of the McKendree offense as the Dragon's offense would respond with a swift drive down the field, taking just under three minutes to drive 83 yards. The end result came when Jack Strand found Carter Birrenkott for an eight-yard touchdown pass. At the time, it was Birrenkott's third touchdown in two games following his career performance against Minot State last week. McKendree would miss a field goal attempt on the ensuing drive to keep the momentum with the Dragons.
Jacob Schroeder would extend the Dragon lead to 10 points thanks to a 31-yard field goal on the next MSUM drive. The Bearcats would bring the game to within a possession with a field goal of their own. To start the second quarter, Jack Strand would get picked off after being hit while throwing, but McKendree would be unable to utilize the momentum as they would fumble on the following drive. MSUM would command the remainder of the half thanks to a pair of stellar drives late in the frame. Strand would connect with Ryan Bieberdorf for a five-yard touchdown with just over three minutes remaining.
While McKendree would turn the Dragons over again on another interception, McKendree would turn the ball over on downs with less than a minute left in the half. With just 33 seconds left on the clock, MSUM would drive 57 yards on three plays to take a commanding 24-3 lead as Strand would find Gage Florence for a 21-yard receiving touchdown.
The Dragons would receive the ball to begin the second half and would take advantage of the classic double dip as MSUM drove 62 yards on four plays for another touchdown. Once again, it was Strand finding Birrenkott for a seven-yard score and Birrenkott's fourth touchdown in two games. The sophomore concluded the game with a new career-high in receiving yards (179) and tying his career high in receptions (10) and receiving touchdowns (2).
On the defensive end, MSUM was stingy through three quarters, as they would only surrender three points to the Bearcat offense. McKendree would miss another field goal in the quarter and would turn the ball over on downs as well. To begin the fourth quarter, MSUM would put the game away thanks to an 11-play, 99 yard drive which resulted in a three-yard touchdown run from Tyson Powell.
While McKendree would score 14 points in the final eight minutes, it would not be enough to overcome the established Dragon lead. MSUM would accumulate 488 yards of offense in the victory.
Jack Strand: 30-43, 387 yards, four touchdowns
Carter Birrenkott: 10 receptions, 179 yards, two touchdowns
Gage Florence: Nine receptions, 116 yards, one touchdown
Luke Imdieke: Eight rushes,47 yards
Tyson Powell: Four rushes, 24 yards, one touchdown
Josiah Behm: 10 tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks
Tate Gustafson: 16 tackles, one tackles for loss
MSUM (2-1) hits the road for a battle with Augustana next week with kickoff from Sioux Falls scheduled for 1 p.m. Game coverage will be available on AM 1100 The Flag.
This article was written by MSUM's Nolan Schmidt.