Neb.-Omaha dumps Bulldogs
OMAHA, Neb. -- The Bulldogs took their best shots at quarterback Zach Miller, but the 6-foot-4, 216-pound junior wouldn't stay down. Miller ran for 124 yards and passed for218 and two touchdowns to lead No. 4 Nebraska-Omaha to a 42-17 North Centr...
OMAHA, Neb. -- The Bulldogs took their best shots at quarterback Zach Miller, but the 6-foot-4, 216-pound junior wouldn't stay down.
Miller ran for 124 yards and passed for218 and two touchdowns to lead No. 4 Nebraska-Omaha to a 42-17 North Central Conference victory over Minnesota Duluth on Saturday before 8,839 at Caniglia Field.
"He does that to every team," UMD junior quarterback Ted Schlafke said. "He breaks a lot of tackles."
Both coaches also praised Miller's elusiveness.
"We hit him hard and he just did a good job breaking tackles," UMD coach Bubba Schweigert said.
"He's pretty special," Omaha coach Pat Behrns said. "He makes a lot of plays with his feet and he gets us out of a lot of problems."
Omaha, the NCC leader, used a mixed attack to baffle the UMD defense. The Mavericks (7-0, 5-0 NCC) totaled 579 yards to 404 for the Bulldogs (3-5, 2-4).
"I thought we made a lot of good plays, both offensively and defensively, to stay in the game [through three quarters]," Schweigert said. "But we're a team that has to play near-perfect."
That didn't happen as Mavericks backup running back Nate Wurth amassed a career-high 179 rushing yards and three touchdowns, and receiver Keith Eloi hauled in seven catches for 123 yards for Omaha.
Although beaten decisively, the Bulldogs had several missed opportunities, especially in the third quarter. Twice they hadfirst-and-goal, but were limited to three points. They drove to the Omaha 3 and fumbled on first down. The next time they were at the Omaha 2, but lost three yards on a running play on second down, passed incomplete on third down and settled for field goal to close to 21-17.
"It easily could have been 28-21 for us in the third quarter," said Schlafke, who threw for 332 yards. "We moved the ball pretty well, but we have to finish off those drives."
The Mavericks, the only unbeaten in the NCC, then regained control, scoring late in the third quarter on a 36-yard reception by Troy Kush and runs of 21 and 50 yards by Wurth to build their lead to 25 points early in the fourth quarter.
Prior to Wurth's 21-yard score, Miller ran twice for 14 yards, boosting him over 100 yards for the first time this season. On one run Miller spun to avoid a sack and then sidestepped a defensive back to get to the 21 on third-and-12.
It was that kind of day for the UMD defense. The Bulldogs couldn't handle Miller, who played only the first possession of the final quarter, even on third-and-long. The Mavericks converting 7-of-8 in the first half and 9-of-13 for the game, which has been a sore spot for UMD the entire season.
"Too many," Schweigert said.
A wild first half saw the Mavericks jump to a 14-0 lead before the Bulldogs rallied to tie it before falling behind 21-14 at halftime.
It took only 3 minutes, 20 seconds for the Mavericks to open the scoring after converting twice on third-and-long. The second time was a 32-yard touchdown reception by Eloi.
A diving interception by UMD linebacker Jake Comnick provided an early chance for the Bulldogs. UMD drove to the Omaha 15 only to have a field goal attempt blocked and returned by Garrett Friessen to the Bulldogs' 49. Six plays later, Miller provided a highlight reel run for a 36-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead. Miller was about to be sacked on third-and-7, but he escaped two defenders before breaking another tackle behind the line of scrimmage and then sprinting down the left sideline.
The Bulldogs opened the second quarter with a 58-yard TD pass from Schlafke to Bryan Gambuzza to make it 14-7.
Later in the quarter Schlafke, who got off to a 10-for-13 start, hooked up with Tony Doherty for a 42-yard TD pass to tie it. The play capped a strange drive that started at the UMD 1 after a fumble by Omaha's Troy Kush as he was diving toward the end zone. A roughing-the-kicker penalty and two Brad Foss' runs totaling 31 yards keyed the drive.
Omaha answered with a seven play, 72-yard drive, with Wurth going up the middle and then to his left for a 43-yard TD run and a 21-14 lead.
Brandan Anson had 11 catches for 80 yards to lead UMD, which had a 339-218 passing edge. But, led by Wurth and Miller, the Mavericks had a 361-65 advantage in rushing -- plus, the ability to convert on third down.
"It's real frustrating," UMD linebacker Jon Rufledt said. "You work hard on first and second down and then ... It's on our shoulders. Not to take anything away from them, because they're good, but I just thought we didn't tackle like we should."
"[Miller] frustrates you because he's so big and strong and fast," Schweigert said. "But we have to make those plays."
Minnesota Duluth 0-14-3-0--17
UNO -- Keith Eloi 32 pass from Zach Miller (Greg Zuerlein kick)
UNO -- Miller 36 run (Zuerlein kick)
UMD -- Bryan Gambuzza 59 pass from Ted Schlafke (Britt Baumann kick)
UMD -- Tony Doherty 42 pass from Schlafke (Baumann kick)
UNO -- Nate Wurth 43 run (Zuerlein kick)
UMD -- Baumann 21 field goal
UNO -- Troy Kush 32 pass from Miller (Zuerlein kick)
UNO -- Wurth 21 run (Zuerlein kick)
UNO -- Wurth 50 run (Zuerlein kick)
A -- 8,839.
First downs 27 23
Total Net yards 579 404
Rushes-yards 49-361 22-65
Passing 218 339
Punt Returns 2-9 0-0
Kickoff Returns 4-117 2-44
Interceptions Ret. 1-0 1-5
Comp-Att-Int 17-27-1 30-51-1
Sacked-Yards Lost 4-25 3-26
Punts 1-33 6-227
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 1-1
Penalties-Yards 7-75 8-71
Time of Posession 31:18 28:42
RUSHING -- UMD, Brad Foss 5-53 , Ted Schlafke 16-45, Joe Russell 1-5. UNO, Wurth 17-182, Miller 17-151, Robert Wesley 7-48 , Brian McNeill 5-16, Jeff Kline 2-1, Greg Wunderlich 1-0.
PASSING -- UMD, Schlafke 29-332 , Jared Beckwith 1-7. UNO, Miller 17-218.
RECEIVING -- UMD, Brandan Anson 11-80, Brad Foss 6-41, Carter 5-68, Gambuzza 4-77, Tony Doherty 2-49, Jared Beckwith 1-23, Nate Baier 1-1. UNO -- Eloi 7-123, Kush 5-57, David Carey 2-17, Nate Wurth 2-13, Bryan Chochon 1-8.