MARSHALL - In the blink of an eye, St. Cloud State seized control of the annual Ag Bowl on Saturday night at the Schwan Regional Event Center.
Tied at 21 with Southwest Minnesota State University at halftime, the Huskies used three quick third-quarter strikes to pull away from the Mustangs and preserve a 49-35 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference victory.
"I told the guys after the game that I feel we didn't deserve to win because we didn't do enough," Southwest Minnesota State head coach Cory Sauter said. "We made way too many mistakes with penalties and we gave up way too many big plays defensively. You have to be able to make (your opponents) earn what they get."
Photo by Jeff Arenz
Southwest Minnesota State University’s Anthony Dean and Charlie Kern celebrate in the end zone after Kern scored the Mustangs’ first touchdown of 2013 — a 9-yard run — against St. Cloud State on Saturday at the Schwan Regional Event Center. The Huskies defeated SMSU 49-35 in the season opener for both teams.
St. Cloud State quarterback Phillip Klaphake came out of the locker room firing in the second half. His 67-yard bomb to Eli Schoemaker came on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter and put the Huskies ahead 28-21 after only 16 seconds had elapsed.
Klaphake, who threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more, completed 15 of 26 passes for 297 yards and one interception.
"Giving up big plays on both sides kept both teams in the game," St. Cloud State head coach Scott Underwood said. "(The touchdown pass at the start of the second half) was a check (by Klaphake) at the line of scrimmage. We had seen (SMSU) line up that way on film and (Klaphake) recognized the coverage, which was a man-on-man situation. Then, we got what we wanted with a good throw and a good catch."
After the Mustangs went three-and-out on their first second-half series, Ledell White capped a three-play, 69-yard drive by the Huskies with a nine-yard touchdown run as St. Cloud State (1-0 overall, 1-0 NSIC North) took a 34-21 lead.
White led all rushers with 109 yards on 17 carries.
Southwest Minnesota State University (0-1 overall, 0-1 NSIC South) answered with a 15-play, 80-yard possession that lasted 6 minutes, 19 seconds and was aided by a pair of penalties by the Huskies on fourth down that twice prolonged the Mustangs' drive.
On 4th-and-3 from the St. Cloud State 23, SMSU quarterback Charlie Kern - making his first start under center - threw an incomplete pass to Tyler Tonderum. But the Huskies' Marvin Matthews was flagged and ejected for attempting to use his helmet to make a tackle, which handed the Mustangs a first down.
Four plays later, when SMSU faced a 4th-and-goal from the SCSU 5, the Huskies' Jordan Sefon was penalized for defensive holding as Kern threw a pass over the head of wideout Anthony Dean in the end zone.
"There are a lot of things to work on," Underwood said. "Southwest is a very good team and they capitalized on some things we didn't do very well. I'm pleased on some fronts, but we'll watch the film and correct anything we need to correct."
Tonderum, who led the Mustangs with 83 yards on 13 carries, rushed for his second touchdown of the game, which came from three yards out as 6:43 remained in the third quarter and trimmed the SMSU deficit to 34-28. His 13-yard run to the end zone with 1:12 left before halftime tied the game at 21.
However, the Huskies struck quickly once again.
After Damon Treat returned the ensuing kickoff 78 yards to the Mustangs' 21, Kenneth Walker ran 12 yards to the end zone two plays later. St. Cloud State went ahead 42-28 as Klaphake completed a 2-point conversion pass to Renard Robinson.
In the fourth quarter, the teams traded touchdowns. White rushed for his second TD, this time from 1 yard out, with 12:34 left. Kern, who completed 36 of 55 passes for 307 yards and one interception, tossed his second touchdown pass of the game to Will Kurka from 13 yards as 9:45 remained.
Early on, Klaphake ran for a 2-yard touchdown and threw 8 yards to Treat for another as the Huskies took a 14-0 lead at the 5:02 mark of the first quarter.
Kern made it 14-7 on a 9-yard TD run during the Mustangs' fourth series. It capped a 12-play, 80-yard drive with 12:03 left before halftime.
St. Cloud State went ahead 21-7 on a 1-yard run by Klaphake just 3:20 later. But Southwest Minnesota State scored a pair of touchdowns in the final three minutes of the first half as Kern tossed a 15-yard scoring pass to Dean and Tonderum ran the ball in from 13 yards out.
"It was looking like this game would be a blowout early on," Sauter said. "But our guys just kept plugging away and we got a couple scores in the second quarter to tie the game at halftime. That was a huge boost (of confidence) for us. But (St. Cloud State) came out of the gate with a big play on a busted coverage."
Overall, Sauter was pleased with the play of his junior quarterback.
"There were a lot of nice things that we did,"?Sauter said. "I was encouraged by the play of Charlie Kern in his first start with running our offense and getting us back in the ballgame."
Once the Mustangs' offense gelled on its fourth series, Southwest Minnesota State found moving the ball was much easier.
"The biggest thing was that we needed to get into a rhythm. There were things on our first two series that were there for us to take advantage, but a player made a mistake or we had a big penalty that put us in a long-yardage situation. After that, we started to run our system and our guys were not making mistakes."
SMSU will attempt to find its first victory of 2013 on Saturday, when the Mustangs travel to play at Minnesota State University-Moorhead.
NOTES: Kern rushed for 54 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. He completed passes to eight different receivers and helped SMSU rack up 477 yards of offense. ... SMSU junior defensive end A.J. Page recorded eight tackles, including four solo stops, with a career-high three tackles for loss and two sacks. ... SMSU racked up 34 first downs. It was the first time SMSU has had more than 30 in a single game since Oct. 8, 2011 SMSU ran 94 offensive plays, the highest total since running 97 versus Bemidji State in a four-overtime game on Oct. 7, 2000 The last time SMSU ran more than 90 plays in a game was on Nov. 3, 2007, in a triple-overtime game versus Winona State Mustangs senior tight end Cody Condon set a career-high with eight receptions SMSU sophomore Andrew McReynolds recorded his second career interception.
ST. CLOUD?STATE 49, SOUTHWEST?MINNESOTA?STATE 35
SCSU14 7 21 7 - 49
SMSU0 21 7 7 - 35
SCSU - Phillip Klaphake 2 run (Eric Mielke kick), 10:42.
SCSU - Damon Treat 8 pass from Phillip Klaphake (Eric Mielke kick), 5:02.
SMSU - Charlie Kern 9 run (Lance Schuveiller kick), 12:03.
SCSU - Phillip Klaphake 1 run (Eric Mielke kick), 9:43.
SMSU - Anthony Dean 15 pass from Charlie Kern (Lance Schuveiller kick), 3:02.
SMSU - Tyler Tonderum 13 run (Lance Schuveiller kick), 1:12.
SCSU - Eli Shoemaker 67 pass from Phillip Klaphake (Eric Mielke kick), 14:44.
SCSU - Ledell White 9 run (Eric Mielke kick failed), 13:07.
SMSU -Tyler Tonderum 3 run (Lance Schuveiller kick), 6:43.
SCSU - Kenneth Walker 12 run (Renard Robinson pass from Phillip Klaphake), 5:54.
SCSU - Ledell White 1 run (Eric Mielke kick), 12:34.
SMSU - Will Kurka 13 pass from Charlie Kern (Lance Schuveiller kick), 9:45.
Time of Possession28:2031:40
RUSHING - SCSU (Ledell White 17-107, Phillip Klaphake 13-61, Kenneth Walker 9-60, TEAM 2-minus 4); SMSU (Tyler Tonderum 13-83, Charlie Kern 17-54, Caleb Burns 7-27, Britt Wicket 1-6, TEAM 1-0).
PASSING?- SCSU (Phillip Klaphake 15-26-297-2-1); SMSU (Charlie Kern 36-55-307-2-1).
RECEIVING - SCSU (Damon Trent 7-129, Eli Shoemaker 5-136, Chad Peterson 1-14, Grant Thayer 1-9, Kenneth Walker 1-9); SMSU (Cody Condon 8-75, Tyler Tonderum 6-46, Anthony Dean 6-42, Britt Wickett 5-23, Will Kurka 4-37, Jordan Cross 3-46, Adam Olson 3-36, Caleb Burns 1-2).