College football: UMD wins and waits after toppling Northern State

Walljasper, Sullivan turn in banner performances as Bulldogs await Sunday’s NCAA Division II Football Selection Show.

Wade Sullivan.JPG
Minnesota Duluth running back Wade Sullivan turns the ball upfield in the Bulldogs’ 28-7 NSIC victory over Northern State in their regular-season finale Saturday, Nov. 12, in Aberdeen, South Dakota.
Photo courtesy of Kory Burdick
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ABERDEEN, S.D. — Freshman quarterback Kyle Walljasper ran for two touchdowns and threw for another to lead Minnesota Duluth to a 28-7 NSIC victory over Northern State in their regular-season finale Saturday before 2,593 at Dacotah Bank Stadium.

Walljasper was efficient, completing 11 of 17 passes for 122 yards and no interceptions for UMD (8-3) as the Wolves (6-5) lost for the first time at home this season. Walljasper also rushed 18 times for another 75 yards.

Running back Wade Sullivan turned in a strong performance in what might be the last game of a fine career at UMD, rushing 16 times for 101 yards.

Sullivan also had a 17-yard touchdown toss to Sam Pitz to give the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead just before the half, and he had a 9-yard touchdown reception to complete UMD’s scoring in the fourth quarter. That gave the versatile senior from Lakeville (Minn.) North two touchdown passes this season and three for his career.

“This game was indicative of our season,” UMD coach Curt Wiese said. “Our guys played hard, competed for four quarters and believed in each other. Fun to go out on a win when we played as hard as we did against a team that hadn’t lost at home.”


The Bulldogs, winners of three straight, will find out if they are one of 28 teams to make the playoffs at 4:30 p.m. Sunday as part of the NCAA Division II Football Selection Show on

UMD was ranked No. 9 in last week’s Super Region Four rankings, with the top seven teams in the final rankings comprising the NCAA Division II playoff field.

“Let's hope we can extend our season with a bid tomorrow,” Wiese said. “If not, we walk away 8-3 with the bar set high for the future.”

The Bulldogs only had a 321 to 258 advantage in yards but forced three Northern State turnovers, and for the third-straight week, they made the opponent one-dimensional. The Wolvers rushed 29 times for 69 yards and didn’t get on the scoreboard until garbage time, as Anthony Vespo connected with Ben Noland from 29 yards out for a touchdown with 57 seconds remaining.

Sophomore Mac Strand paced the UMD defense with 10 tackles while fellow linebacker Andrew Klopp added six tackles and a fumble recovery.

Senior defensive back Dayvia Gbor had two interceptions Saturday, adding to what’s been a stellar season as he leads the Bulldogs with seven interceptions.

Northern State was 5-0 at home going into Saturday. That included a 23-22 victory over Minnesota State-Mankato Sept. 17 and a 42-21 victory over Winona State Oct. 8. Mankato and Winona were ranked nationally in the NCAA Division II Top 25 and are third and fifth, respectively, in the latest Super Region Four rankings.

If UMD doesn’t make the NCAA postseason, it’s hard to point at any one thing. However, the Bulldogs will certainly regret giving up a long punt return for a touchdown in a 17-10 loss Sept. 10 at Minnesota State-Mankato, and then a late missed chip-shot field goal in a 34-31 loss Sept. 24 at Sioux Falls, followed by a long game-winning drive by the Cougars.


Wiese isn’t one to look back or point fingers. He is proud of the three convincing wins the Bulldogs turned in after a tough 41-16 loss Oct. 22 at Bemidji State, a loss that could have caused them to fold it up.

“We had a lot of fun with this senior class,” Wiese said. “They have left behind an expectation both on and off the field after their last regular-season win. They were always about the team and it showed today.”

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