MOORHEAD, Minn. -- MSU Moorhead would score 28 points in the final 30 minutes to overcome an early deficit and defeat the Northern State Wolves on Saturday afternoon at Nemzek Stadium. The Dragons bested the Wolves 45-26.
It would be Northern State who would gain an early advantage in the contest as the Wolves would drive 80 yards on 15 plays to go up 7-0. The Wolves would keep their momentum going as they would hold the Dragons scoreless through the first 15 minutes. Northern State would tack on a 47-yard field goal at the beginning of the second quarter to lead 10-0. The Wolves would force a fumble on the ensuing Dragon drive to keep themselves in the driver's seat.
However, Adam Kallenbach would come up with a massive interception on the next Northern State drive that turned the tides towards the Dragons. MSUM would drive 27 yards on just three plays to put their first score on the board, a five-yard run from running back Tyson Powell. The Dragons would keep the momentum in their favor on the ensuing Wolves drive as MSUM would stop Northern State on fourth down thanks to a stuff from Tate Gustafson. Starting their next drive on their own 45-yard line, MSUM would use two plays to drive down the field and score again. Jack Strand found Brady Perryman for a pair of receptions with the latter being a 12-yard touchdown pass. With time waning in the first half, MSUM led 14-10.
Northern State would cut the Dragon lead to one point with a field goal on their next drive with MSUM getting the ball back with just under 90 seconds remaining in the half. The Dragons would drive 80 yards on 10 plays in that span and set up kicker Jacob Schroeder for a 27-yard field goal with five seconds remaining. MSUM's sophomore kicker would connect on the kick to help bring the Dragons a 17-13 halftime lead.
The Dragons would get the ball to begin the second half and would drive 69 yards on seven plays to put another score on the board. This time, Strand found Gage Florence for a nine-yard touchdown pitch and catch. With MSUM forcing a Northern State punt on the next drive, the Dragons had an opportunity to build their lead even further. Steve Laqua's group would do just that, driving 85 yards in just under four minutes to score yet again. Powell earned his second rushing touchdown of the day with a one-yard scamper into the end zone. Midway through the third frame, MSUM led 31-13.
MSUM would only continue to pour it on as they would force another flip in possession on the ensuing Northern State drive. Starting their next drive on their own 29-yard line, Jack Strand connected with Carter Birrenkott over the middle with nothing but green in front of the bruising wide receiver. Birrenkott sprinted 71 yards to paydirt to push the Dragons in front 38-13. Northern State would trim that lead to 38-19 before quarter's end. Jared Kallenbach would come up with an interception late in the third frame to give MSUM its second takeaway of the contest. It is also the second time in as many years that the Kallenbach brothers have each had an interception against Northern State (October 29, 2022).
The Dragons would open the fourth quarter with another score as Strand found former Northern Stater Jacob Vetter for a two-yard touchdown pass. MSUM swarmed Vetter who celebrated his first score as a Dragon against his former team. On the ensuing drive, Northern State would score again to cut the Dragon lead to 45-26. While the Wolves would get an onside kick recovery, the possession was short-lived as Tate Gustafson picked off Northern State quarterback Anthony Vespo. MSUM was able to gain some traction on the ground in the fourth quarter to dwindle the clock and take home a 45-26 victory. The Dragons outgained Northern State 519 yards to 395.
Jack Strand: 33-48, 448 yards, four passing touchdowns
Tyson Powell: 12 carries, 56 yards, two touchdowns
Brady Perryman: Six receptions, 96 yards, one touchdown
Carter Birrenkott: Two receptions, 92 yards, one touchdown
Gage Florence: Eight receptions, 83 yards, one touchdown
Jared Kallenbach: 10 total tackles, one interception
Adam Kallenbach: One tackle, one interception
Tate Gustafson: Six tackles, one sack, one interception
Mitchell Jezierski: Nine tackles, one tackle for loss
The Dragons (3-2, 2-2 NSIC) are on the road next week for a matchup with ranked Minnesota State. Kickoff from Mankato is scheduled for 2 p.m. Game coverage will be available on AM 1100 The Flag beginning with the pregame show at 1:30 p.m.
This article was written by MSUM's Nolan Schmidt