The University of Minnesota Crookston (UMC) Golden Eagles football team gave up 35 unanswered points in the second quarter as the University of Sioux Falls steamrolled Minnesota Crookston 52-14 in an NSIC game played at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.

The Golden Eagles’ offense went three-and-out on their opening drive of the game, but the ensuing Sioux Falls’ punt return was fumbled and recovered by punter Alex Folz (Fr., Spring Grove) at the UMC 40-yard line. With a fresh set of downs, Minnesota Crookston again failed to move the chains punting the ball down to the USF 17.

A big run sparked Sioux Falls’ first offensive drive when USF quarterback Caden Walters (Sr., Dodge City, KS) escaped a collapsing pocket and carried the ball up to the USF 34-yard line. Walters completed a pass to wide receiver Jermaine Broadnax (R-Soph., Chicago, IL) on the next play for 33 yards to the UMC 33. An illegal block in the back cost the Cougars 15 yards and stalled their drive, forcing the visitors to settle for a 36-yard field goal made by kicker Daniel Esparza (Jr., Dallas, TX) giving Sioux Falls a 3-0 lead with 7:47 to play in the first quarter.

The Golden Eagles picked up their first first down of the game following a Jalin Scott (Sr., Houston, TX) run for 11 yards on second-and-4 to the USF 48-yard line, but two incompletions thrown by the UMC quarterback prevented Minnesota Crookston from progressing further downfield. Alex Folz punt was downed at USF 16 with a holding penalty against the Cougars pinning USF at its 6-yard line.

A holding penalty pinned USF at its 4-yard line where Caden Walters launched a deep pass over the middle hauled in by Raysean Treadwell-Mason (R-Soph., St. Paul) for 53 yards to the UMC 43 on second-and-12. Facing first-and10 at the UMC 30-yard line Walters connected with tight end Ben Sokup (R-Fr., Altoona, WI) along the sideline for 21 yards inside to the UMC 9. On the next play, the QB Walters kept the ball on a read-option fooling the Minnesota Crookston defense and running inside the corner pylon for the game’s first touchdown giving Sioux Falls a 10-0 lead after the extra point with 2:56 to play in the opening quarter.

Minnesota Crookston once again went three-and-out with their next possession, and following a 21-yard return by Giovanni Purpura (R-Soph., McHenry, IL) the Cougars took over possession at midfield. Sioux Falls drove the ball down to the UMC 35-yard line, where they faced fourth-and-7. On fourth down, Sioux Falls kept its offense on, and Minnesota Crookston safety Johnson Fallah (R-Fr., Brooklyn Park) tackled running back Thuro Reisdorfer (R-Soph., Sioux Falls, SD) after a 4-yard reception, turning the ball over on downs at the UMC 31-yard line.

The Golden Eagles offense fed off the momentum of the defensive stop as quarterback Tristan Robbins (Soph., Muskegon, MI) hit wide receiver Jonattan Mudd (Sr., Gardena, CA) over the middle for a 12-yard reception. Robbins threw his second straight completion to WR Nathan Coy (R-Soph., Sun Prarie, WI) with a quick screen pass to the far sideline gaining 12 yards to the USF 45-yard line. Robbins reconnected with Mudd for 8 more yards before finding Eli Solberg in the open field for an additional 16 yards plus a roughing-the-passer penalty pushing the ball all the way down to the USF 11. Facing third-and-10 from the USF 11-yard line, Robbins dumped a pass off to running back Alex Folz, who lowered his shoulder at the goal line and extended the football into the end zone for a touchdown. Kicker Jared McLemore (Soph., Lucas, TX) converted the extra point trimming Minnesota Crookston’s deficit down to 10-7 with 10:32 to play in the second quarter. “Alex (Folz) has done a great job for us,” said Minnesota Crookston head coach Mark Dufner. “He’s one of those guys that does everything for us. He plays running back. He can block. He punts the ball. He’s done a great job for us. He wasn’t going to be denied on that play. It was a great effort by Alex.”

Sioux Falls took the momentum and a 10-point lead back on the ensuing kickoff. Returner Thuro Reisdorfer caught Jared McLemore’s high kickoff at the USF 20-yard line and ran down the sideline 80 yards for a touchdown giving the Cougars a 17-7 lead after the extra point. UMC’s next drive ended with a punt, and Sioux Falls was off and running towards an emphatic close to the second quarter. “This is something we’ve got to keep working on,” added Dufner. “To get to that next level, we’ve got to handle adversity better. They had that kick return, and we just lost some of that energy. That can’t happen. The previous play can’t affect the next play.”

The Cougars’ next offensive possession started at the USF 27-yard line after a 15-yard personal-foul penalty during the UMC punt. QB Caden Walters was sacked for a loss of 3 yards on first down but found wide receiver Karnell Collier (Jr., Florida City, FL) for a 21-yard completion on second-and-13 moving the ball up to the USF 45-yard line. A 5 yard carry by running back Ja’Tai Jenkins (R-Fr., Goodyear, AZ). Later in the drive, facing third-and-1 at the UMC 33-yard line, Caden Walters took kept the football as the USF quarterback sprinted in the open field avoiding a tack inside the 5-yard line and crossing the goal line for a 33 yard touchdown run pushing the Sioux Falls lead to 24-7 after the extra point with 5:25 to play in the half.

Following another Minnesota Crookston three-and-out that took just 1:38 off the clock and lost 8 yards, the Cougars started their next drive at the UMC 45-yard line. Quarterback Caden Walters continued his impressive first half lobbing a pass to his wide-open tight end Ben Sokup who ran untouched to the UMC 5-yard line before finally being tackled at the UMC 1. On the next play, Walters fired a dart to back-up tight end Kyle Barnetche (Sr., Susanville, CA), who made his first reception of the season for the TD giving the visitors a 31-7 lead after the extra point with 3:04 to play in the quarter.

Minnesota Crookston quarterback Jalin Scott threw an interception to corner back Parker Gregston (R-Sr., Arvada, CO) on the Golden Eagles’ next offensive play giving Sioux Falls the football back at the UMC 39-yard line. The Cougars wasted just 6 seconds before capitalizing off the turnover. On the next USF offensive snap, QB Caden Walters completed a deep pass to a wide-open Nate Johnson (Sr., Vista, CA) allowing the Sioux Falls wide receiver to jog untouched into the end zone extending the Cougars’ lead to 38-7 after the PAT with 2:45 to play in the second quarter.

The Golden Eagles’ continued their quarterback rotation on the next drive with the same end result after Tristan Robbins threw an interception over the middle that USF linebacker Zebadiah Selu (Sr., Pearl City, HI) caught and returned to the UMC 30-yard line with a 15 yard penalty for a facemask against Minnesota Crookston tacking on additional yards setting up the Sioux Falls offense at the UMC 15-yard line. Four plays later, Sioux Falls QB Cade Walters flipped a shovel pass to his runningback Reisdorfer, who barreled his way over the goal line for the Cougars fifth touch down in a 9:41 span to enter halftime with a 45-7 lead. “We’ve got some things that we’ve got to clean up,” said Dufner of the scoring barrage. “There were just too many critical errors here today. There were a couple of penalties, personal fouls, and that’s the type of stuff that can’t happen here as we move into next week.”

Sioux Falls back-up quarterback Mitchell Martin (R-Jr., Strasburg, CA) started the second half alongside the Cougars starting offense. Martin marched the visitors down the field 66 yards in nine plays capped off by a Martin run for 5 yards and a TD giving Sioux Falls a 52-7 lead with 10:49 to play in the third quarter.

Minnesota Crookston’s lone second-half highlight came with 4:22 to play in the third quarter. Mitchell Martin’s pass towards the UMC sideline was intercepted by Golden Eagles linebacker LaDerek McCray (R-Sr., McComb, MS), who sprinted with the football 36 yards for Minnesota Crookston’s first defensive touchdown of the season making it 52-14. “LaDerek (McCray) made a great play on that,” explained Dufner. “He read the route. Broke on the ball and was able to get the ball picked. Then he got in the end zone.”

Neither side came close to changing the score during the remaining 19:22 of game time as both sides focused more on staying healthy, heading into week seven with the game well in hand for Sioux Falls. The Cougars finished the day outgaining Minnesota Crookston by 320 yards as USF’s defense limited the UMC offense to just 108 yards of total offense likely positioning the Cougars defense, which entered the week allowing the second-fewest yards in the nation, to move up to number one in the country in terms of yards allowed per game going into week seven. “The challenge at halftime was to treat it as a 0-0 game,” noted Dufner. “We wanted to come out and win the second half. It was a 7-7 game in the second half, so we did some good things in all three phases. We did some good things here. We just had too many critical errors.”

Minnesota Crookston falls to 0-6 this season. The Golden Eagles make their farthest trip of the season next Saturday, when UMC travels to Fayette, Iowa, to play Upper Iowa at 3:00 P.M. with the Riverview Health pregame show starting at 2:20 P.M. in KROX. Sioux Falls improves to 4-2. 

1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
U of Sioux Falls 10 35 7 0 52
UMC 0 7 7 0 14

1st Quarter-
7:47 –  USF –  Daniel Esparza  36 yard field goal
2:56 –  USF –  Caden Walters  9 yard run (Daniel Esparza kick)

2nd Quarter–
10:32 –  UMC –  Alex Folz  11 yard pass from Tristan Robbins (Jared McLemore kick)
10:18 –  USF –  Thuro Reisdorfer 80 yard kickoff return (Daniel Esparza kick)
5:25 –    USF     Caden Walters  33 yard run  (Daniel Esparza kick)
3:04 –    USF –   Kyle Barnetche 1 yard pass from Caden Walters (Daniel Esparza kick)
2:45 –    USF  –  Nate Johnson 39 yard pass from Caden Walters  (Daniel Esparza kick)
0:29 –   USF –  Thuro Reisdorfer 3 yard pass from Caden Walters (Daniel Esparza kick)

3rd Quarter –
10:49 –  USF –  Mitchell Martin 5 yard run  (Daniel Esparza run)
4:22 –    UMC – LaDerek McCray 36 yard interception return (
Jared McLemore kick)

4th Quarter –
No Scoring