Minnesota-Crookston senior running back Richard Haley rushed for a career-high 232 yards and three touchdowns to lift the Golden Eagles past Southwest Minnesota State 33-28 Saturday in Crookston.
The win snapped a string of 39 straight Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference losses for UMC dating back to 2008.
The Golden Eagles (1-3 overall) led throughout most of the game and dominated possession, holding the ball for nearly 40 of the game's 60 minutes. They gained 442 yards of total offense, 284 of which game on the ground.
The Mustangs (1-3) could almost never get a stop when they needed one, as Crookston was 9 of 16 on its third-down conversions and 3 of 4 on fourth-down conversions.
UMC held a 33-14 lead going into the fourth quarter before SMSU scored a pair of touchdowns, one on a 38-yard pass from Tyler Peschong to Gannon Moore, the other on an eight-yard run by Moore with 4 minutes, 48 seconds remaining.
"Even as poorly as things were looking, we scored on our last three possessions and just needed to get one more possession," SMSU head coach Cory Sauter said. "We kicked off to them after we scored and ended up getting them inside of their 20-yard line and got them in a third-and-12, and they converted that and were just able to run the clock out. I really felt that if we could have had one more possession we'd be able to win that thing in the last four minutes there."
Like Crookston, SMSU piled up plenty of yards in the game (423 total yards, including 236 yards rushing), but three turnovers in the first half killed promising drives. Peschong threw two interceptions in the half and receiver Tyler Erickson coughed up a fumble that was recovered by the Golden Eagles.
The Mustangs had a poor start from the first play, as Lance Schuveiller's kickoff went out of bounds and gave UMC the ball at its own 40-yard line. On Crookston's first play from scrimmage, Haley busted a 60-yard run for a touchdown.
SMSU responded with a 10-play, 67-yard drive that was capped with a two-yard touchdown run by Peschong to tie the game, but turnovers prevented the team from scoring the rest of the half.
Cutting back on the miscues in the second half, the Mustangs were able to create some big plays and put up 21 points in their failed attempt at a comeback. SMSU running back Warren Matthews finished the game with 13 carries for 139 yards and a touchdown. Moore had 10 catches for 118 yards ,and 10 carries for 69 yards and a score. Peschong finished the game 18-for-28 passing for 187 yards with two picks and one touchdown.
"The bus ride home was basically absolute silence, and that wasn't anything I said they had to do, but that's how it was, so you know it matters to them," Sauter said. "It's something they don't ever want to have happen again. We have to get our bearings back and get ourselves ready to play on the road again against one of the premier teams in the conference."
SMSU plays against the University of Sioux Falls in Sioux Falls, S.D., next Saturday. The Cougars will enter the game undefeated after their 21-5 win over Bemidji State.
Unable to beat what's been the worst team in the conference the past several years, the Mustangs now have to face three opponents (Sioux Falls, Wayne State and Minnesota State-Mankato) that have a combined record of 11-1. With team his coming off back-to-back disappointing losses, Sauter said the Mustangs have to find a way to rally.
"One thing we talked about (Sunday) is that giving up is not an option," Sauter said. "That's not what we're about. The moment you give up on something, it's going to be that much easier to give up on the next thing in life. It's not a pattern that we're going to be about. I think they'll bounce back."
SMSU7 0 7 14-28
UMC13 6 14 0-33
UMC-Richard Haley 60 run (Stephen Henderson kick), 14:49
SMSU-Tyler Pescong 2 run (Lance Schuveiller kick), 10:07
UMC-A.J. Barge 24 run (Henderson kick blocked), 4:49
UMC-Haley 1 run (Barge rush failed), 11:13
UMC-Marcus Cheatham 35 pass from Barge (Henderson kick), 9:31
SMSU-Warren Matthews 58 run (Schuveiller kick), 7:49
UMC-Haley 20 run (Henderson kick), 2:27
SMSU-Gannon Moore 38 pass from Peschong (Schuveiiler kick), 12:05
SMSU-Moore 8 run (Schuveiller kick), 4:48
First Downs: SMSU 23; UMC 27. Rushing Yards: SMSU 236; UMC 284. Passing Yards: SMSU 187; UMC 158. Total Offense: SMSU 423; UMC 442. Turnovers: SMSU 3; UMC 0. Penalties (Number-Yards) SMSU 8-80; UMC 6-64. Time of Possession: SMSU 20:17; UMC 39:43. Third-Down Conversions: SMSU 2 of 7; UMC 9 of 16. Fourth-Down Conversions: SMSU 2 of 2; UMC 3 of 4. Sacks By (Number-Yards): SMSU 1-9; UMC 0-0.
Rushing: SMSU-Warren Matthews 13-139, Gannon Moore 10-69, Tyler Peschong 6-28; UMC-Richard Haley 34-238, A.J. Barge 8-41, Wes Tucker 5-16.
Passing (comp-att-yards-int): SMSU-Peschong 18-22-187-2; UMC-Barge 14-26-158-0.
Receiving: SMSU-Moore 10-118, Tyler Erickson 3-16, Cody Condon 2-10, Britt Wickett 1-15, Abe Kos 1-15, Adam Olson 1-13. UMC-Marcus Cheatham 6-91, Josh Ross 5-43, Andrew Steinfeldt 1-12, Adam Eyton 1-6, Richard 1-6.
Tackles: SMSU-AJ Page 14, J.J. Bobrowicz 13, Blake Pennock 9, Tate Bunkers 7, Joe Stupka 7, Donovan Woods 6, Mark Schollmeyer 6. UMC-Cecil Brown 15, Brody Davidson 8, Andrew Hall 7.
Interceptions: SMSU-none. UMC-Ricky Jacobs, Freedom McCullough.
Sacks: SMSU-Page. UMC-none.