Bulldogs pounce to easy win over Griffons

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- Searching for a solution to its struggles, Missouri Western's offense huddled around line coach Jay Eilers on its sideline -- except for one Griffon.

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- Searching for a solution to its struggles, Missouri Western's offense huddled around line coach Jay Eilers on its sideline -- except for one Griffon.

Quarterback Drew Newhart sat on a different bench, by himself, as a few teammates periodically wandered over to say a few quick words -- as if they were visitors at a wake giving their condolences.

It sure felt that way Saturday night at Spratt Stadium.

Newhart's first pass sailed incomplete -- five yards from any receiver -- and the sophomore never seemed to gain his bearings against No. 17 Minnesota Duluth.

He missed on his first three throws, turned the ball over fives times and never looked in sync. With Newhart faltering, the Griffons had no chance of keeping pace with the Bulldogs, losing 47-18 in a nonconference game.


With his arm failing him late in the first half and the Griffons (1-1) trailing, 21-6, Newhart tried to make a play with his feet, scrambling out of the pocket for a 24-yard gain. But at the end of the run, Newhart lost the handle at Duluth's 7-yard line for turnover No. 3 of the half.

"That's probably my longest run in my college history so far, and to end it on a fumble is really depressing.," Newhart said.

It pretty much summarized his night, which unfortunately for him, was only half over. Newhart finished 14-of-25 for 129 yards and two interceptions.

"I don't know what happened. I'm not one to make excuses, but I sure did play an awful football game. I haven't played this bad since ... I don't think I ever have," Newhart said. "I think I let a lot of people down, my teammates, the community."

Newhart's counterpart, meanwhile, showed the form that has him in the Harlon Hill conversation. Ted Schlafke completed his first five passes and found plenty of holes in Western's defense - though the air and on the ground -- all evening.

He completed 21-of-27 passes for 282 yards and two scores -- both to D.J. Winfield. The senior dropped passes over receivers' shoulder in between two defenders. He hit his wideouts in stride over the top of the Western secondary and shook off a couple of big hits from a defense that clearly was keyed in on Schlafke.

"He is a great football player. He provides us leadership in our offense. He gets us out of bad plays and gets us into good plays," UMD coach Bob Nielson said. "He made some plays with his feet [Saturday] that made a difference in the game. That's the kind of athlete he is, and if he continues to play well, we have a chance to be a good offensive football team."

Schlafke also rushed for 32 yards and a score.


"We knew we were going to have to throw the ball. They are really physical up front and they like to keep a lot of guys at the line of scrimmage. We just made some big plays and that got us going," Schlafke said. "If people didn't believe in us before, they do now."

And the few mistakes UMD (2-0) did make quickly were erased by Griffon miscues. Schalafke threw an interception in the end zone during the second quarter, but three plays later Newhart gave it back on a pick of his own.

In the third quarter, the Bulldogs drove down to Western's 15-yard line, but running back Rob Casasnovas fumbled, giving the Griffons hope, down 21-6. On the next play, Newhart fumbled trying to hand off the ball.

UMD punched it in on a Schlafke run, and Western never got closer than two touchdowns. Brian Hanson added the exclamation point by returning a blocked punt 20 yards for a touchdown to put the Bulldogs ahead 35-13 with 12:39 left in the fourth quarter.

Dustin Strickler provided the majority of Western's offense, hitting field goals of 39, 21 and 39 yards.

"We talked earlier in the week about making a quantum leap from Week 1 to Week 2," Nielson. "I think we did that, but I think this team is capable of doing more."

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