Saturday, September 4, 2004
Cougar Football wins a thriller
By Brian Curtis - Morris, MN
Terrance McCray (Sr. Lafayette, LA) came to the University of Minnesota-Morris last year and helped the Cougar basketball team to a second place finish in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference. This fall, he decided to play football while finishing up his education. And boy are the Cougar glad he did.
With :42 seconds left in the season opening game Saturday against Mayville State, McCray made a beautiful adjustment in the back of the end zone, and hauled in a pass from Anthony Ekren (Sr. Morris, MN) over his right shoulder to put UMM up 18-13 and the Cougars would hang on for their first season opening win in 18 years by the same score.
Defense was the name of the game in the opener for both teams.
The Cougars drew first blood as the first quarter came to a close as Donnay Green (Sr. Chicago, IL) scored from four yards out, capping off a seven play 60 yard drive. The extra point was no good so UMM led 6-0 entering the second quarter.
The score remained that way until early in the second half.
Mayville State took the opening kick of the second half and went 57 yards in 12 plays and 5:45 to take a 7-6 lead.
The Comets added to the lead early in the fourth quarter at 13-6 with 13:43 left in the game. But a big play came on the extra point attempt as Michael Ostendorf (Jr. Sartell, MN) blocked the extra point kick and the score remained 13-6 if favor of MSU.
With a very strong wind during the game being a key factor though out the contest, Minnesota-Morris had the wind at their backs in the final 15 minutes. And it proved to be a big help.
The Cougars would cut the lead to one at 13-12 as Donnay Green scored from one yard out with 2:31 left in the game and the Cougars went for the tie, but the extra point attempt was just wide and Mayville State clung to a 13-12 lead.
Minnesota-Morris went for the onside kick, something that was a huge success in the Cougars 37-34 come from behind win over Waldorf College last year at Cougar field.
But this time, Anthony Ekren's kick was recovered by Mayville State and with 2:31 left in the game and the Comets with the ball at the Cougar 47, things locked bleak for the Cougars.
But one thing fans will notice this year is the Cougar defense and as they did several times earlier in the game, the defense came up big.
Mayville State could only move the ball to the UMM 40 and were forced to punt the ball into the wind.
The punt by Chase Diaz would be downed at the Cougar 11 with 1:15 left on the clock and the Cougars down to one time out.
On first down, Ekren found a wide open McCray for a 40 completion to the Mayville State 49.
Ekren then hit Patrick Collins ((So. Milwaukee, WI) for an eight yard gain the Comet 41 and Collins would run out of bounds to stop the clock.
On second and two, Ekren went to the back of the end zone where McCray looked over his left shoulder at first and then spun around to his right as the ball landed in his hands for the score with :42 seconds left in the game.
Marcis Pavars (So. Long Prairie, MN) just missed the extra point so the score remained 18-13 in favor of the Cougars.
Pavars made up for the miss with a booming 60 yard kick off that was bobbled at the Mayville State five before Chance Rutherford picked it up but was brought down at the 17.
The Comets had to go 83 yards and were out of time outs.
On a second and 10 at the Mayville State 40, Adam Turgeon (So. S. St. Paul) picked off a Jared Williamson pass at the UMM 43 to give the ball back to the offense and Ekren took a knee to end the game.
Garrett Bohannon had a huge game for the Cougars with 140 yards in total offense. He had seven catches for 84 yards and carried the ball four times for another 38. He added one punt return for 18 yards.
His catch on fourth and nine at the Comet ten yard line kept the Cougar drive alive that led to Donnay Green's second touchdown and brought UMM to within in one at 31-12.
Donnay Green had 24 carries for 88 yards and two TD's.
The Cougars had 351 yards in total offense, Mayville State had 374.
On the defensive side, Scott Rieland (Jr. Cold Spring, MN), a transfer from Fergus Falls Community and Technical College had a great game in his debut as a Cougar with 10 total tackles, three and a half tackles for loss and one sack.
Travis Destasche (Jr. Mahtomedi, MN) had nine and a half tackles, Marty Hoffmann (Sr. Sleepy Eye, MN) added eight and a half tackles.
The last time a Minnesota-Morris won a season opener was a 51-21 win over Hamline University in 1986.
Ironically, that is the Cougars next opponent as UMM travels to St. Paul to take on the Pipers next Saturday at 1:00 at Norton Stadium.