SMSU FOOTBALL: Key third quarter propels UMary past SMSU, 45-23
MARSHALL — The third quarter has been the Achilles heel for the Southwest Minnesota State University football team so far this season, with the Mustangs getting outscored 26-14 in the first two weeks. SMSU saw those struggles continue against the University of Mary on Saturday, as the Marauders had a 21-6 advantage in the third frame. The Mustangs would make a late charge in the fourth, but ultimately fell short in a 45-23 loss to spoil the Ag Bowl – presented by Ralco – festivities at Mattke Field.
SMSU coach Cory Sauter said he was proud of the way his team kept battling all the way despite the deficit, but added they made some key mistakes and didn’t do enough to earn the victory.
“To win in this league you’ve got to play well for the entire game and keep yourself in it and we put ourselves in a tough spot in the first half and we made some critical errors in the kicking game at times to give us some tough field position; it’s hard to consistently drive down the field 98 yards, so we’re going to have to get better there and mature and grow as a team in a hurry,” Sauter said. “That was the message by some of our captains after the game, that we have to grow up and mature and this can’t be OK. They really have to step up to the plate and take ownership in it and that’s on all of us, the coaching staff, the players, everybody. I’m looking forward to these next two months and seeing how we can progress and make steps moving forward, but the guys worked extremely hard out there and there wasn’t a moment where I felt like we quit and even up to the last series we were trying to score, but we came up short and we didn’t do enough to deserve to win.”
UMary got out to a quick start and moved down to the SMSU one-yard line before scoring on a short run to go up 7-0 with 9:40 left in the first quarter. After both teams traded three-and-outs the rest of the frame, the Marauders added to their advantage in the second quarter, facing another fourth-and-1 situation at the Mustangs’ 39 but converted before getting a short pass to make it 14-0.
SMSU would have a response, though, marching downfield before a 26-yard field goal from Carter Dicker trimmed the deficit to 14-3 with 4:06 left in the first half. But that would be the closest they got, as an interception by the Marauders led to a field goal to end the first half and give UMary a 17-3 lead going into the locker rooms.
UMary kept up its momentum in the third quarter, facing a third-and-10 from their own 20 before an 80-yard pass pushed their lead to 24-3 with 13:53 left in the frame. The Marauders weren’t done there, taking advantage of a SMSU interception by scoring on a 13-yard pass one play later to make it 31-3 roughly a minute later.
The two teams then traded scoring drives. The Mustangs drove to their own 42-yard line before Andrew Haidet broke free for a 58-yard touchdown run to make it 31-9 after the extra point attempt hit the upright. The Marauders answered with a touchdown pass of their own and later scored on another run to start the fourth and go up by as many as 36 at 45-9 with 14:52 left.
SMSU would continue to battle, though, as Haidet connected with Carter Damlo on a 51-yard touchdown to make it 45-16 with 12:42 to go. On their next possession, Steven Nava found BJ Phillips on back-to-back passes for a touchdown to draw to within 22 at 45-23 with 9:44 left.
The Mustangs would try the onside kick on the ensuing kickoff and recover it, but couldn’t capitalize on the drive and turned it over on downs, and the two teams traded turnover on downs to close the game.
SMSU had 13 penalties called against them on the game for a total of 91 yards and also turned the ball over twice, both on interceptions.
“We couldn’t get in a rhythm at all. Whenever you have penalties, it just takes you out of rhythm and puts you in longer yardage situations and the odds are stacked against you. I just felt like we were constantly battling against ourselves and it was hard to call a game when you can’t get certain things lined up sequentially,” Sauter said. “In the second half, we had a little more success with it, but I really feel like we did a lot of things to ourselves and you have to give UMary credit too, there were times where they made really good plays as well and they’re a team that has talent and ability and you could see it here.”
Defensively, SMSU allowed UMary to record 430 yards of total offense, including 249 yards passing. Onte Burns led SMSU with 14 total tackles while Gage Roberson added nine total tackles, including 1.5 going for a loss. The Marauders also didn’t commit a turnover.
All three of the Mustangs’ scoring drives in the second half were completed in four or fewer plays and under 2:09. Sauter said their key was their ability to take shots downfield and capitalize off of their aggressiveness on offense.
“We took some shots and unleashed a few and were able to connect,” Sauter said. “It was one of those moments where we had nothing to lose and that was part of it; we were very aggressive and were able to capitalize on it and guys made plays, so I was really happy to see that at that point in time.”
SMSU recorded 406 yards of total offense, including 191 yards rushing. Haidet led the Mustangs with 147 of those yards, becoming the first SMSU quarterback to rush for more than 100 yards since 1986. Haidet also completed four of his 12 pass attempts for 80 yards and a score while Nava completed nine of his 20 attempts for 124 yards and a touchdown. SMSU had 215 passing yards as a team.
Sauter said it was their plan to have both Haidet and Nava involved at quarterback on Saturday and felt they made some key contributions, especially Haidet on the ground.
“That was the plan going into the game. Throughout the week, we played both of those guys pretty equally and they both had certain plays projected for them and they were both able to throw and have run opportunities,” Sauter said. “Obviously Andrew is a guy that can run and is a big kid, a 225-pound quarterback that can run and he made some big plays for us. That’s the first time I’ve ever had a 100-plus yard rusher [at quarterback] since I’ve been here, so it was good to see him contribute in that shape and take advantage of his skill-set with his legs.”
Albert Lemon led the Mustangs in receiving with four catches for 58 yards while Damlo added two receptions for 57 yards and a score, Duce Reynolds had four catches for 32 yards and Phillips had two receptions for 41 yards and a touchdown.
SMSU will hit the road next weekend, facing Concordia-St. Paul next Saturday at noon.
UMary 45, SMSU 23
UMary 7 10 21 7 – 45
SMSU 0 3 6 14 – 23
UMary: Stugelmeyer 1 yd run (Powell kick).
UMary: Little 12 yd pass from Nelson (Powell kick).
SMSU: Dicker 26 yd field goal.
UMary: Powell 35 yd field goal.
UMary: Kittner 80 yd pass from Nelson (Powell kick).
UMary: Little 13 yd pass from Nelson (Powell kick).
SMSU: Haidet 58 yd run (Kick no good).
UMary: Andresen 5 yd pass from Nelson (Powell kick).
UMary: Small 35 yd run (Powell kick).
SMSU: Damlo 51 yd pass from Haidet (Dicker kick).
SMSU: Phillips 9 yd pass from Nava (Dicker kick).
Passing (Comp-Att-Yds-TD): SMSU (Nava 9-20-124-1; Haidet 4-12-80-1).
Rushing (Att-Yds-TD): SMSU (Haidet 10-147-1; Reynolds 9-16; Sherwood 4-10).
Receiving (Rec-Yds-TD): SMSU (Lemon 4-58; Damlo 2-57-1; Phillips 2-41-1; Reynolds 4-32).
Defense (Total tackles): SMSU (Burns 14; Roberson 9; White 7).