College football: UMD freshman QB Larson blazes a trail in 37-0 win over Minot State

Minnesota Duluth football coach Curt Wiese described freshman quarterback John Larson as an explosive runner, but the statistics had yet to justify it.

Bob King / rking@duluthnews.comMinnesota Duluth's Kale Boomer (right) recovers a fumble by Minot State during the second quarter Saturday at Malosky Stadium. At left is Minot State's Tristen Burnett.
Bob King / Minnesota Duluth's Kale Boomer (right) recovers a fumble by Minot State during the second quarter Saturday at Malosky Stadium. At left is Minot State's Tristen Burnett.

Minnesota Duluth football coach Curt Wiese described freshman quarterback John Larson as an explosive runner, but the statistics had yet to justify it.

Larson had rushed 27 times for 49 yards coming into Saturday's NSIC game, good for a paltry 1.8 yard average, but that changed in a hurry.

Larson threw two touchdowns and ran for another, and UMD's defense pitched back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 1984, as the Bulldogs cruised to a 37-0 NSIC North Division victory over Minot State before a rain-soaked homecoming crowd of 3,779 at Malosky Stadium.

It was UMD's fifth straight win.

"It's obviously a little nerve-wracking when you first go out there, but once you start playing football again, it all comes back to you, and I just tried to make some plays," said Larson, who was making his second collegiate start. "Once we got rolling, it was all good."


After a sluggish first quarter in which UMD only led 8-0, the Bulldogs broke out with 20 points in the second quarter, including two touchdowns in the final three minutes of the half.

"Duluth has a good football team that is opportunistic," Minot State coach Mike Aldrich said. "We would have felt pretty good if we could have went into the half down 14-0, but they took advantage of one turnover, forced us to punt and then managed the clock well to make it 28-0 just like that."

Larson completed 12 of 20 passes for 193 yards and no interceptions, and he rushed 12 times for 97 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown scamper where he showed off the explosiveness Wiese knew he had.

"I just pulled the football back and thought I could beat the defense to the outside," Larson said. "I felt like I could making something happen."

Meanwhile, UMD's defense, maligned in 2016, continues to make things happen, with three interceptions and a fumble recovery by Kale Boomer. The Bulldogs (6-2) had a 429-257 advantage in yards.

The Beavers (1-7) drove to UMD's 20-yard line late in the fourth quarter, but there would be no pride points here as UMD freshman defensive back Jake Goodman intercepted Minot State backup quarterback Andy Jones, and the Bulldogs ran out the clock.

"It was a good team win," Wiese said. "Defensively we continue to play at a high level and forced turnovers. The shutout meant something to our defense. It meant something to our team. Those kids were playing hard at the end of the game, and preserving the shutout is an important thing. Any time you can shut a team out, you played a really good game of football."

Now it's on to a North Division showdown Thursday night at Bemidji State (6-2).


Boomer, the former Cook County standout who is a senior safety, was named Saturday's player of the game, with five tackles to go with that fumble recovery, but he was already looking ahead.

"We've got a good thing going on defense right now, but now we've got a short week ahead of us to prepare for a really good opponent," he said. "We'll enjoy tonight, but that's about it, because it starts right back up tomorrow."

Minot State 0-0-0-0-0
Minnesota Duluth 8-20-6-3-37

First Quarter

UMD - Dominic Bonner 15 pass from John Larson (Jason Balts run), 3:25

Second Quarter

UMD - Anthony Wood 8 run (Balts rush failed), 7:13
UMD - Larson 51 run (Dan Branger kick), 2:49
UMD - Balts 22 pass from Larson (Branger kick), :13

Third Quarter


UMD - Branger 45 field goal, 12:38
UMD - Branger 42 field goal, 5:43

Fourth Quarter

UMD - Hausman 25 field goal, 14:47


First downs.................................. 12 22
Rushes-yards........................33-114 40-236
Passing..................................... 143 193
Comp-Att-Int....................... 14-27-3 12-23-0
Kick returns-yards................... 7-113 0-0
Punts-yards.......................... 8-35.6 5-35.4
Fumbles-lost.............................. 2-1 1-1
Penalties-yards........................ 7-68 4-30
Time of possession................. 29:44 30:16

RUSHING - MSU, Andy Jones 6-65, Lucas Butts 7-36, Hayden Van Winkle 6-26, Larry Overstreet 8-9, Team 1-(-1). UMD, Larson 12-97, Austin Sylvester 6-62, Wood 9-43, Bryce Heim 7-23, Jack Connolly 3-9, Griffin Hill 2-3, Team 1-(-1).
PASSING - MSU, Zac Cunha 10-15-1-95, Jones 4-11-1-48, Ben Bolinske 0-1-1-0. UMD, Larson 12-20-0-193, Connolly 0-2-0-0, Balts 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING - MSU, Lavante Bushnell 5-59, Lane Torgerson 3-39, Taylor Maloney 1-23, Van Winkle 1-15, Ray Watkins 1-4, Kaydn Sharp 1-4, Overstreet 1-2, Ryan Fila 1-(-3). UMD, Balts 5-98, James Conner 2-21, Bonner 2-20, Obi Ibeneme 1-33, Kenyon Phillips 1-12, Wood 1-9.

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 or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
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