Turnovers doom UMD in playoff quarterfinalsQuarterback Chase Vogler tosses four interceptions as defending champions lose at home.
Minnesota Duluth quarterback Chase Vogler played so well this season people started to forget how young he is.
Vogler, a year removed from pep rallies, pimples and prom dances, finally showed some freshman wrinkles on Saturday in the Bulldogs’ 24-10 loss to Grand Valley State in the NCAA Division II quarterfinals before 4,211 on a perfect late fall day at Malosky Stadium.
The four-time national champion Lakers intercepted Vogler four times — including three times deep in Grand Valley territory in the second half — to knock off the defending national champions.
Grand Valley (12-1), which got 225 yards passing and two touchdowns from senior quarterback Brad Iciek, advances to play Carson-Newman (11-2) next Saturday in the national semifinals. UMD finished 11-2 after having its 10-game winning streak snapped.
“We told Chase to keep his head up,” UMD junior linebacker Robbie Aurich said. “He’s what? 17? 18? And put into a big-time situation. He’s going to go through some learning curves, but Chase did a great job all year being a leader, even at his age, and we couldn’t be prouder of how he performed this year.”
UMD was taken out of its grind-it-out, ball possession game for the first time this season as junior running back Isaac Odim was held below 100 yards for the first time this season, running 18 times for 67 yards.
Odim made an impact in other ways, however, taking the opening kickoff 91 yards to put UMD ahead 7-0 just 14 seconds into the contest.
“I was still trying to get my headset adjusted, and then the next thing you know, the guy is whipping by me,” Grand Valley coach Chuck Martin said. “We wanted the ball first, but that wasn’t my idea.”
The teams exchanged drives before Grand Valley got the ball back at its own 25. Two plays later, running back James Berezik fumbled deep in Lakers’ territory but was able to get it back. It was the first of two Grand Valley fumbles that UMD failed to recover as the Lakers had zero turnovers to UMD’s four.
Retaining possession, Grand Valley rode Iciek’s arm to knot the game 7-7. On the ensuing possession, Vogler’s pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and Grand Valley linebacker Justin Victor intercepted it and returned it 31 yards to the UMD 3. Three plays later it was Grand Valley 14-7 after P.T. Gates plunged in from a yard out. The teams exchanged field goals to make it 17-10 at the half.
“We could have been up 17-0, but instead it was 17-10 and they could still pound Odim away,” Martin said. “We knew if we could get them into a situation where they’d have to sling it, it’d be to our advantage.”
The Bulldogs drove to the Lakers’ 29 on their first possession of the second half before Vogler forced a pass to Odim and linebacker Brad Howard jumped the route and returned it to the UMD 32. On the next play, Iciek found receiver Greg Gay over the middle for a touchdown as the Lakers suddenly led 24-10.
hat’s how it would stay as UMD’s next three drives were all stopped at about the Grand Valley 22-yard line after two more interceptions and a failed fourth-and-1 attempt.
“We can feel good about this one,” Martin said. “We’ve had a lot of victories this year, but we haven’t played a team the caliber of Duluth.”
Iciek, a three-time finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy going to the DII player of the year, finished 14-for-27 for 225 yards. Vogler, the first true freshman to start at quarterback at UMD in 47 years, finished 8-for-20 for 102 yards for the Bulldogs, who were held to 258 total yards, or 176 below their average.
“When you’re only touchdown is on a kickoff return, you’re not going to win games that way,” Odim said. “Our offense had to do a better job putting points on the board, but we just didn’t get it done.”
UMD coach Bob Nielson is normally as stoic as a marble statue, unflinching to the elements and rarely opening a window to his emotions, so it caught reporters off guard when he had to pause to recompose himself during the postgame press conference.
“I’m certainly disappointed,” Nielson said, “but I thought our guys played exceptionally hard and I’m extremely … I’m extremely proud of them.”