Dragons fend off Warriors, Win third straight game

Courtesy: Avery Nelson MSUM GO! TEAM
Courtesy: Avery Nelson MSUM GO! TEAM

MOORHEAD, Minn. -- MSU Moorhead football would build a 20-3 lead at home against Winona State on Saturday before the Dragons thwarted a Warrior comeback attempt to claim a 20-17 win.

In the victory, MSUM quarterback Jack Strand broke the school's single-season passing yards record which was held by Dustin Long (3,223). That record has stood since 2007.

Winona State would take the opening kickoff and put together a scoring drive to keep MSUM honest. The Warriors would drive 53 yards on 14 plays, taking up over six minutes of game clock. However, MSUM's defense would hold firm as the Warriors would only get a field goal out of the drive. Midway through one quarter, Winona State led 3-0. MSUM would be forced to punt on their first drive, but the Dragon defense would force a punt on the ensuing Winona State possession to keep the score at 3-0. Nearing the end of the first frame, MSUM would put together a 65-yard drive that spanned nine plays, finishing in a Jack Strand touchdown pass to Brady Perryman. The Warriors would block the extra point attempt to keep the Dragon lead at 6-3.

The Warriors would again attempt to piece together a scoring drive early in the second period as Winona State would push the ball into the red zone. MSUM's defense would make a massive play with their backs against the wall as Abe Hestdalenknocked the ball up in the air at the line of scrimmage. The floating football landed in the hands of Tate Gustafson with the turnover flipping possession for the Dragons. MSUM would be unable to capitalize on the interception as Winona State would force another Dragon punt.

MSUM would continue to piece together drives as the second quarter wore on. Winona State would pin MSUM deep in their own territory following a punt as the Dragons began a drive from their own one-yard line. The Dragons would do what they do best, score and score quickly, as the offense zoomed down the field, taking 11 plays to drive 99 yards. The stretch only consumed four and a half minutes of game clock as Strand found Perryman again for a monster 44-yard touchdown. With the half nearing an end, MSUM led 13-3.

Winona State would try and attempt a field goal on their next drive with the kick missing short. However, Winona State's stout defensive front would force a Strand fumble on the next Dragon possession to keep the score at 13-3 heading into the locker room.

Both teams would hold the opposing offense to begin the second half before the Dragons once again put together a lengthy drive. MSUM traveled 97 yards following a muffed punt return from Perryman. The Dragons needed 10 plays and just over four minutes to span almost the entire length of the field. MSUM made it to Winona State's one-yard line before Tyson Powell punched in a score to put the Dragons up 20-3. Winona State would respond with a 65-yard drive of their own and their first touchdown of the contest. The score brought the count to 20-10 in favor of the Dragons.

As MSUM was looking to put the game away on the ensuing drive, it would be marred by a fumble on the kickoff that was recovered by the Warriors. The turnover put the Warriors in prime field position on MSUM's 22-yard line. Winona State made quick work of the short field, scoring on two plays to bring the score to 20-17 after three quarters.

With the momentum firmly in Winona State's corner, MSUM's defense would rally and continually stop the Warriors when it mattered most. Winona State would only possess the ball twice in the final 15 minutes. The drives would result in a punt and a turnover on downs. The Dragon offense did a wonderful job of chewing up the game clock in the latter stages with MSUM holding the ball for over 12 minutes in the frame. That game plan proved pivotal as the Dragons picked up the necessary first downs to take home their sixth win of the season. 

Top Dragons

Jack Strand: 26-38, 302 yards, two touchdowns

Brady Perryman: Six receptions, 93 yards, two touchdowns

Ryan Bieberdorf: Three receptions, 82 yards

Fynn Ridgeway: Six receptions, 40 yards

Josiah Behm: 13 total tackles, nine solo tackles

McKale Pierson: Nine tackles, tackle for loss

Jack Bungarden: Seven tackles, tackle for loss

Tate Gustafson: Four tackles, one interception


Up Next

MSUM (6-3, 5-3 NSIC) looks to the annual Battle For The Axe against Bemidji State next weekend. Kickoff from Bemidji is scheduled for 1 p.m. Game coverage will be available on AM 1100 The Flag beginning with the pregame show at 12:30 p.m.


This article was written by MSUM's Nolan Schmidt