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College football: Bulldogs win homecoming game

Minnesota Duluth freshman running back Brad Foss had been told before that he might get a chance to play, only to wind up manning the sideline instead.

Minnesota Duluth freshman running back Brad Foss had been told before that he might get a chance to play, only to wind up manning the sideline instead.

But Saturday afternoon was different, as Foss made the most of an opportunity to start, and the Bulldogs reaped the dividends in a 22-14 homecoming victory over Western Washington before 3,494 spectators at Malosky Stadium. It was UMD's first North Central Conference victory of the season and it snapped a three-game losing streak -- the Bulldogs' longest since 1999.

Foss, of Mahtomedi, Minn., rushed 12 times for 59 yards and caught five passes for 50 yards in his college debut. Coupled with quarterback Ted Schlafke's 18 carries for 67 yards, UMD's pass-oriented offense was complemented with a running game.

Because he didn't spend the majority of his time with the scout team this week, Foss figured he would play Saturday because he saw extended minutes with the Bulldogs' first-team offense.

"But I didn't think I'd get the ball that much," Foss said. "I ended up carrying more of the load because the line did its job and the passing game did its part to open it up. It feels good. Real good. That was the first time in college I've ever touched the field. I'll remember it. Definitely."

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The close score wasn't quite indicative of the game. The Bulldogs (2-3 overall,

1-2 NCC) were in control from the beginning, but made some critical mistakes that kept them from scoring more.

Schlafke was efficient, completing 32 of 44 passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns, but he was intercepted in the end zone on UMD's second drive of the game. It mattered little as the Bulldogs' defense kept Western Washington (1-3, 0-3) pinned in its own end for most of the first half. UMD had given up 124 points in its previous three games, including a 43-21 loss at Central Washington last week, but allowed just 84 yards of total offense in the first two quarters while the offense built a 12-0 lead.

"After last week's loss, we were more mind-boggled than anything else," said senior nose guard Scott Syverson. "We had too much talent to be 1-3. We knew we were way better than that, and I think we just proved it."

Western Washington cut the lead to 12-7 late in the third quarter on Travis McKee's 9-yard touchdown reception, but UMD's kicking game, which struggled with poor snaps that led to two botched extra-point attempts and a missed field-goal try in the first half, finally clicked on Britt Baumann's 18-yard field goal to make it 15-7 to start the fourth quarter. UMD receiver Brandon Anson, who caught a game-high 12 passes for 105 yards, then caught his second TD pass of the game to give UMD a 22-7 cushion with eight minutes to play.

Western Washington scored once more, but the Vikings couldn't stop Foss' running and Schlafke's scrambles. In a statistical rarity for pass-happy UMD, the Bulldogs held a 31:57-28:03 advantage in time of possession.

"We just couldn't get the big stop," said Western Washington coach Robin Ross. "That's the most snaps we've taken all season. We tried to rally them at the end, but our defense was tired. They had been out there a long time."

The 6-foot, 205-pound Foss could have played earlier this season but was hindered by a sore ankle. He iced the ankle and his bruised left side after Saturday's game. His father, Dan, is a regular at UMD games, but it was the first time his mother, Mary, was in attendance.

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"I bet mom was biting her nails every time I took a shot, but I'm used to it from practice," Foss said. "The coaches said I would eventually get an opportunity, so I just had to keep working hard and staying focused, because when you get that opportunity, you have to take advantage of it."

Western Washington 0-0-7-7--14

Minnesota Duluth 6-6-0-10--22

First Quarter

UMD -- Brandon Anson 13 pass from Ted Schlafke (run failed)

Second Quarter

UMD -- Bryan Gambuzza 19 pass from Schlafke (run failed)

Third Quarter

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WW -- Travis McKee 9 pass from Adam Perry (Josh Lider kick)

Fourth Quarter

UMD -- Britt Baumann 18 field goal

UMD -- Anson 9 pass from Schlafke (Baumann kick)

WW -- Perry 1 run (Lider kick)

A - 3,494.

WW UMD

First downs 17 26

Total Net Yards 272 476

Rushes-yards 37-88 36-160

Passing 184 316

Punt Returns 6-218 5-206

Kickoff Returns 5-109 3-57

Interceptions Ret. 1-0 1-31

Comp-Att-Int 14-32-1 32-46-1

Sacked-Yards Lost 2-18 4-17

Punts 6-218 5-206

Fumbles-Lost 1-1 0-0

Penalties-Yards 8-52 8-84

Time of Possession 28:03 31:57

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING-- WW, Craig Garner 26-62; Adam Perry 10-31; Tyler Roberts 1--5. UMD, Ted Schlafke 18-67; Brad Foss 12-59; Luke Radke 1-19; Joe Russell 3-13; Noah Pauley 1-5.

PASSING-- WW, Adam Perry 32-184. UMD, Ted Schlafke 44-316; Jared Beckwith 1-0.

RECEIVING-- WW, Travis McKee 6-77; Umi Grant 3-51; Casey Dell 2-25; Rick Copsey 2-13; Rocki Sandusky 1-18. UMD, Brandon Anson 12-105; Bryan Gambuzza 8-87; Brad Foss 5-50; Dennis Carter 4-38; Tony Doherty 2-22; Noah Pauley 1-14.

Jon Nowacki joined the News Tribune in August 1998 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Stephen, Minnesota, in the northwest corner of the state, where he was actively involved in school and sports and was a proud member of the Tigers’ 1992 state championship nine-man football team.

After graduating in 1993, Nowacki majored in print journalism at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, serving as editor of the college paper, “The Aquin,” and graduating with honors in December 1997. He worked with the Associated Press during the “tobacco trial” of 1998, leading to the industry’s historic $206 billion settlement, before moving to Duluth.

Nowacki started as a prep reporter for the News Tribune before moving onto the college ranks, with an emphasis on Minnesota Duluth football, including coverage of the Bulldogs’ NCAA Division II championships in 2008 and 2010.

Nowacki continues to focus on college sports while filling in as a backup on preps, especially at tournament time. He covers the Duluth Huskies baseball team and auto racing in the summer. When time allows, he also writes an offbeat and lighthearted food column entitled “The Taco Stand,” a reference to the “Taco Jon” nickname given to him by his older brother when he was a teenager that stuck with him through college. He has a teenage daughter, Emma.

Nowacki can be reached at jnowacki@duluthnews.com or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
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