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College football: UMD to face St. Cloud State today

Minnesota Duluth at St. Cloud State * What: Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference game * When: 2 p.m. today * Where: Husky Stadium, St. Cloud, Minn. (4,198 capacity, artificial turf) BULLDOGS OUTLOOK UMD scored 35 points in the second quarter t...

UMD's Tyler Yelk
Minnesota Duluth safety Tyler Yelk is the school's all-time leader in tackles.

Minnesota Duluth at St. Cloud State

* What: Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference game

* When: 2 p.m. today

* Where: Husky Stadium, St. Cloud, Minn. (4,198 capacity, artificial turf)

BULLDOGS OUTLOOK

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UMD scored 35 points in the second quarter to break from a 7-7 tie en route to a 55-7 homecoming victory over Northern State, the Bulldogs' seventh straight blowout victory and school-record seventh straight game scoring at least 40 points. Senior quarterback Ted Schlafke completed 12 of 14 passes for 166 yards and a season-high five touchdown passes in becoming UMD's all-time leader in that department. UMD safety Tyler Yelk became the Bulldogs' all-time leader in tackles, helping UMD shut down the Wolves' rushing attack. The Bulldogs lead NCAA Division II in four categories: rushing defense (44.71 yards per game), total defense (203.3 ypg), quarterback sacks (4.43 spg) and passing efficiency (200.44). UMD is also second in scoring defense (10.4 ppg) and fourth in scoring offense (45.7 ppg), but this likely will be the Bulldogs' toughest challenge to date.

HUSKIES OUTLOOK

St. Cloud got two touchdowns each from Fred Williams and Jake Machacek in cruising past Minnesota Crookston 48-7 last week. Williams caught a 47-yard touchdown pass and took the opening kickoff of the second half 85 yards for another score. He finished with 229 multipurpose yards. The Huskies have won five straight games and scored at least 48 points in their last three. St. Cloud's only losses were a 13-10 defeat at Augustana to start the season followed by a 31-17 loss at former NCAA Division II power North Dakota. "This is probably the best defensive line we'll see, not just up to this point, but all season. They're that good," UMD coach Bob Nielson said. "But they were good up front defensively last season. The biggest difference for St. Cloud this year is that the offense has dramatically improved, and that's made the difference."

* Series: St. Cloud State leads 22-17 but is winless in the last three meetings, including UMD's 23-13 victory last year at Husky Stadium.

* Coaches: Bob Nielson is 45-19 in his sixth season at UMD; Scott Underwood is 5-2 in his first season as the St. Cloud State head coach. Underwood, who was a Huskies' assistant for seven seasons, served as the team's acting head coach since last December as former head coach Randy Hedberg fought to keep his job. Underwood was officially appointed head coach on March 25. Hedberg is now coaching at Southern Illinois-Carbondale, where former UMD coach Bubba Schweigert is the defensive coordinator.

* Records: UMD 7-0 overall, 6-0 NSIC; St. Cloud 5-2, 5-1

* Rankings: UMD is No. 9 in the American Football Coaches Association and D2Football.com polls and No. 2 in the latest regional rankings

* Radio: KHQG 102.5 FM

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* Video: www.northernsun.tv

St. Cloud State's Fred Williams
St. Cloud State's Fred Williams scored a pair of touchdowns in last week's Huskies victory. Williams and the Huskies face Minnesota Duluth in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference game today in St. Cloud, Minn.

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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