(Crookston, Minn.)- The Golden Eagles of the University of Minnesota, Crookston and the Mustangs of Southwest Minnesota State University gave fans exactly what they paid for this afternoon at Ed Widseth Field. The two teams clashed for 60 minutes in a gridiron battle that would come down to the final play of the game to decide the victor. When the dust settled, it was the Mustangs who stopped the Golden Eagles on the Southwest Minnesota State one yard-line on the final play of the game to take the victory 20-15.
The Golden Eagles took an early lead, scoring on the first series of the game. UMC drove 77 yards on six plays, capped off by a 20 yard Eric John rush (So., Running Back, North Miami, FL) for the score. SMSU cut the lead in half in the first quarter when they drove 24 yards in seven plays to set up a 48 yard field goal by Scott Talcott. The second quarter was a turning point in the game as SMSU would score two touchdowns to take the lead for good. Before the half, UMC put together an eight play drive that covered 40 yards. It was Eric John who once again found pay-dirt as he scampered in for a two yard run. The Golden Eagles went for the two-point conversion but it failed and SMSU went into the half up 17-12.
The second half saw far less scoring as the teams only traded field goals. UMC’s Stan Shurson (Fr., Kicker, Ramona, Calif.) hit a 22 yard field goal after an 11 play, 37 yard drive by the Golden Eagles. SMSU would answer in the fourth quarter when Scott Talcott split the uprights for the second time on the day, hitting a 31 yard field goal.
The entire game was summed up in the final Golden Eagle drive. Following Talcott’s field goal, UMC would start the epic drive on their own 28 yard line. Quarterback David White (Jr., Detroit, Mich.) rallied the offense and started the march down the field. The drive went 12 plays for 68 yards and took 1:55 off the clock. With eleven seconds left, White completed a 33 yard hail-mary pass to Jabari Williams (Jr., Wide Receiver, Long Beach, Calif.) who went out of bounds at the one yard line. The officials let the clock run and the Golden Eagles were out of timeouts. The offense quickly lined up so White could down the ball to stop the clock. UMC had time for only one more play as four seconds remained in the game. The Golden Eagles decided to keep it on the ground and go to Eric John who had found the end zone twice prior in the game. He rushed left, where SMSU’s Levi Bullerman broke free of his block and stopped John for no gain. The game would go to the Mustangs 20-15 in a finale that will go down as one of the best in the NSIC.
Leading the way offensively for the Golden Eagles were Eric John who rushed 23 times for 108 yards with a long of 36 yards and two touchdowns. David White was 13-29 passing for 128 yards. He rushed 16 times for 73 yards. George Allen (Fr., Wide Receiver, Culver City, Calif.) led the receivers, grabbing three passes for 20 yards. As a team, UMC recorded 19 first downs, rushed for 180 yards, passed for 128 yards for 308 yards of total offense. Defensively, Matt Forse (Sr., Linebacker, Sturgeon Lake, Minn.) led UMC with 10 tackles (two solo, eight assisted) and grabbed his second interception of the season. Trevor Haugh (Sr., Linebacker, Wells, Minn.) finished with 10 tackles (one solo, nine assisted). Tayler Michels (Jr., Defensive Back, Pelican Rapids, Minn.) finished with seven tackles (three solo, four assisted) and grabbed UMC’s other interception.
The Golden Eagles are now 1-1 on the season and 0-1 in the NSIC. Southwest Minnesota State University moves to 1-2 overall and 1-0 in the NSIC. The Golden Eagles return to Ed Widseth Field next Saturday, September 22 as they host conference rival Bemidji State University. Kick-off is set for 1:00 p.m.
For more information, visit the Golden Eagle Athletics website at www.goldeneaglesports.com.