Western loses 42-32 at NCAA I-FCS North Dakota

WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM Adam Perry
WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM
Adam Perry
WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM

Oct. 18, 2008

Final Stats

GRAND FORKS, N.D. - Running back Josh Murray rushed for 219 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries and quarterback Danny Freund threw three touchdown passes as the University of North Dakota defeated Western Washington University, 42-32, in its Homecoming football game Saturday at Alerus Center before a crowd of 12,164.

The Vikings fell to 3-4 overall with their second straight loss. Quarterback Adam Perry (Sr., Longview/R.A. Long) completed 24-of-37 passes for 374 yards and four touchdowns, two of them to wide receiver Pat McCann (Sr., Olympia).

North Dakota, which is in its first season as a NCAA Division I-Football Championship Subdivision member, improved to 5-1. The Fighting Sioux, who had not played for the last two weeks, won their sixth consecutive Homecoming game.

The Vikings were within seven, 28-21, midway through the third quarter after a 2-yard touchdown catch by tight end Zach Hekker (Jr., Bothell), a score set up by running back Randall Eldridge (Jr., Lynnwood), who had six rushes for 48 yards in the drive.

But Ismael Bamba returned a kickoff 75 yards to the Western 17, and three plays later, Freund connected with Brady Trenbeath for a 2-yard score.

Western closed to within 11, 35-24, on a 41-yard field goal by Josh Lider (Jr., Bellevue/Sammamish), but UND responded again, using a nine-play, 54-yard drive capped by Catlin Solum's 2-yard run.

That put the Fighting Sioux in control at 42-24 with 11:25 left. The Vikings did score once more, as fullback Matt Clark (Sr., College Station, TX/A&M Consolidated) caught a 1-yard pass from Perry with 6:03 to play and a two-point conversion pass to Travis McKee (Sr., Bothell) narrowed the margin to 10, but UND's next drive ran the clock inside two minutes, and the Vikings reached only the UND 29 on their final possession in the dying seconds.

Western completed the game with a 481-429 advantage in total offense. Eldridge had 110 yards on 26 rushes, and added six receptions for 88 yards. McCann had six catches for 179 yards, his 29.83 per catch average setting a Great Northwest Athletic Conference record. The old mark was 29.80 by Humboldt State's Dustin Creager in 2001.

Freund completed 14-of-22 passes for 181 yards for UND. Alex Nicholas had four catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns, grabbing a 33-yarder to open the second-half scoring.

The Fighting Sioux are 47-6 at home since the Alerus Center opened in 2001 and have won 37 of their last 39 games there.

Murray opened the scoring just six minutes in with a 24-yard run, but Western took a 14-7 lead late in the first quarter on a pair of Perry-to-McCann touchdown passes just 17 seconds apart.

The first score, a 26-yard pass, capped a 10-play, 79-yard drive. The Vikings then recovered a fumble on the kickoff, and after an illegal substitution penalty, Perry and McCann connected on a 52-yard touchdown.

UND regained the lead with a two second-quarter touchdowns. First, Freund connected with Nicholas for a 31-yard scoring pass, and on the following Fighting Sioux possession, Murray scored on a 6-yard run with 63 seconds left in the half, giving UND a 21-14 lead at halftime.

Middle linebacker Caleb Jessup (Jr., Kenmore/Inglemoor), who entered the game third nationally in NCAA II in tackles per game (12.5), had 11 stops and has reached double figures in every game this year.

Late in the third quarter, Perry became the 10th Western player to surpass 4,000 career passing yards, finishing the contest with 4,137. He has thrown at least two touchdown passes in all seven games this season, and has thrown for more than 300 yards in four of the last five games.

The Vikings return home to face Humboldt State University in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference contest Saturday, Oct. 25 (1 p.m.) at Bellingham's Civic Stadium.

SCORING SUMMARY

Western Washington 14 0 10 8 --- 32 North Dakota 7 14 14 7 --- 42

UND - Murray 24 run (Hellevang kick) WWU - McCann 26 pass from Perry (Lider kick) WWU - McCann 52 pass from Perry (Lider kick) UND - Nicholas 31 pass from Freund (Hellevang kick) UND - Murray 6 run (Hellevang kick) UND - Nicholas 33 pass from Freund (Hellevang kick) WWU - Hekker 2 pass from Perry (Lider kick) UND - Trenbeath 2 pass Freund (Hellevang kick) WWU - FG Lider 41 UND - Solum 2 run (Hellevang kick) WWU - Clark 1 pass from Perry (McKee pass from Perry) Attendance: 12,164

Vikings run out of time against North Dakota

By JOE SUNNEN - THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

For a few minutes in the first quarter it seemed like the Western Washington University football team was going to shake the grasp of North Dakota and finally shock the Fighting Sioux.

Three unanswered touchdowns later and North Dakota was back in a familiar spot against WWU, leading big and holding off a Vikings' rally.

Josh Murray rushed for 219 yards and two touchdowns and Danny Freund threw for three more scores as the Fighting Sioux defeated WWU 42-32 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D., on Saturday, Oct. 18, in non-conference play.

"We played hard," WWU coach Robin Ross said in a phone interview. "These guys gave a ton of effort. We just didn't make the plays when we needed to and gave North Dakota a few too many. That's a good football team, but it was an opponent we feel like we could have beat. We just ran out of time."

It's the second loss in a row for Western (3-4) and the fourth straight against North Dakota despite playing the Fighting Sioux close in each of the last three contests. North Dakota (5-1), which jumped up to the NCAA Division I-FCS level this season after being a Division II power, was coming off a two-week bye.

The Vikings trailed 28-21 midway through the third quarter after a Zach Hekker touchdown pulled them to within a score, but North Dakota returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards and scored three plays later to move to 35-21 with less than four minutes to play in the third.

The play changed the momentum of the game and swung it back in the Fighting Sioux's favor for good. Western scored late in the fourth quarter to make it 42-32 but couldn't come closer.

"That kick return was really the shot in the heart," Ross said. "We had just scored and were getting back in it and then they hit that big return and have a short field. That was tough."

Early on in the game it seemed like this was going to the year Western knocked off UND, but it wasn't to be. The Vikings' Pat McCann scored back-to-back touchdowns in a 17-second span to push WWU out to a 14-7 after the first quarter, but the Fighting Sioux put together two long drives at the close of the second to take a 21-14 lead at halftime.

WWU quarterback Adam Perry finished 24 for 37 for 374 yards and four touchdowns. McCann had six catches for 179 yards and Randall Eldridge had 110 yards rushing.

"Adam Perry played great," Ross said. "Really as a team we did a lot of things well."

Western next hosts Humboldt State University on Saturday, Oct. 25, at 1 p.m. at Civic Stadium. Not only is that game an important Great Northwest Athletic Conference contest, it's also the last home game for several WWU seniors.

It also marks the return of former Vikings coach Rob Smith, who took over the Lumberjacks program this season.

"I think the players understand that they have a great opportunity to build off this game against North Dakota and use that going into our game next week," Ross said. "That game is going to be all about our seniors. That's their last home game and we want to send them out the right way."

UND football: Parade of points

Wayne Nelson, Grand Forks Herald

After last season's record-breaking game at Western Washington, UND didn't want another shootout with the Vikings.

Once again, though, passes were completed, runners slipped by defenders, the chains kept moving and points were put on the scoreboard with regularity.

The Sioux survived a second straight high-scoring game against Western Washington, holding on for a 42-32 win Saturday before 12,164 homecoming fans in the Alerus Center.

The latest shootout didn't rival last season's 63-42 UND win in Bellingham, Wash., but both teams held the pedal to the metal for much of the rematch.

UND's performance lacked sharpness at times, but it was effective enough to improve the Sioux to 5-1.

"A win is a win, and I guess that's all you can ask for," UND cornerback Drake Otto said. "But this is the most disappointing win we've had this season. Something was missing. I don't know if it was the two bye weeks or whether it was something else."

Sioux running back Josh Murray carried the load, rushing for 219 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries.

The Sioux offense produced 429 yards -- 248 on the ground. But two fumbles -- both coming in the first half -- allowed Western Washington to hang around.

"As a team, we were a little sloppy," UND coach Chris Mussman said. "We have to shore up some things because we're about to play our first conference game, and we have to play back-to-back FCS teams on the road. We won't be afforded anything in those games."

Two Adam Perry touchdown passes to Pat McCann gave Western Washington a 14-7 lead with 3 minutes, 24 seconds left in the first quarter. Perry was effective throughout, completing 24 of 37 passes for 374 yards and four touchdowns.

UND gained control, however, in the final seven minutes of the second quarter. Alex Nicholas hauled in a 33-yard touchdown pass from Danny Freund before Murray scored on a 6-yard run with 1:03 to play for a 21-14 halftime lead.

"We had a big sense of urgency when we were down 14-7," Nicholas said. "We figured if we could put up some points, the defense would get some big stops. And they did."

The Sioux could have been breathing easier had it not been for two fumbles, one coming on UND's first play of the game.

The Sioux were consistent in the second half.

And one Sioux defensive series in the third quarter helped determine the outcome. UND led 35-21, but Western Washington took over at midfield. The Sioux, however, held the Vikings to a field goal.

On UND's next possession, Catlin Solum scored on a 2-yard run for a 42-24 lead.

"A big swing was when we held them to a field goal and we came back to score a touchdown," Mussman said. "That sequence allowed us the separation we needed."

The Vikings cut the deficit to 42-32 with 6:03 to go on Perry's 1-yard scoring pass to Matt Clark. UND started on its 6-yard line after the ensuing kickoff. But Murray and Solum combined for 45 yards on nine carries to put the game away.

"It came down to making a couple of plays," Western Washington coach Robin Ross said. "When we were down 10 points with six minutes to go, I felt we had a chance. We had them pinned deep. But then it took our defense too long to get off the field."

UND's defense was on the field for long periods in the first half as Western Washington's passing game was sharp.

But the Sioux offense -- backed by Murray's steady running -- came up with enough big plays to keep the Vikings a score or two behind in the second half.

"I credit our offensive line again," Murray said. "It's a cliché, but when you have holes 5 or 6 yards wide, it's easy to run through them."

UND didn't win the statistics game. The Vikings had more yards and had an edge in time of possession.

"I'd rather win ugly than lose pretty," Mussman said.