The bus ride from Bismarck, North Dakota, to Duluth is 435 miles and takes about seven hours, not counting stops, but it would feel a lot longer if you lost.

Fortunately, the Minnesota Duluth football team doesn’t have to know that feeling. The Bulldogs eked out their second straight road win, this time a 31-27 NSIC victory over Mary Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, before 3,593 at the MDU Resources Community Bowl in Bismarck.

Backup quarterback Logan Graetz was 13-for-24 passing for 150 yards and four touchdowns to lead the 19th-ranked Bulldogs (5-1). Running back Cazz Martin, who was limited in a 26-21 victory last week at Minnesota State-Moorhead, added 17 carries for 141 yards and Byron Bynum had a pair of touchdown receptions.

“It’s always nerve wracking when the game comes down to the last play or the last series,” UMD coach Curt Wiese said. “You’re watching the scoreboard and you’re watching the clock and making adjustments in all three phases to get out of the game and win it. We did what we needed to do to beat an improved football team on the road.”

In what turned out to be a game of dueling Logans, Mary’s Logan Nelson carved up UMD’s secondary, going 22-for-30 passing for 244 yards and three touchdowns.

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However, after Graetz found Sam Pitz over the middle from 2-yards out to put the Bulldogs up 31-27 with 7:30 to play, the Marauders (2-4) mostly sputtered down the stretch of their homecoming game. The UMD defense finished with three quarterback sacks.

Mary has never beaten UMD, with most of the games lopsided, but the NSIC appears to have more parity than in years past, with every team in the league having at least one loss.

“Our job is done with the win,” Wiese said. “I’m proud of the way our guys played. We knew going in that Mary is a much better football team. We knew they were going to be able to push the football downfield and throw it. They’ve done that all year, but I felt our defense played a really good football game. We got pressure on the quarterback.”

UMD went with Graetz and Garrett Olson under center last week, with Graetz finding Armani Carmickle with an 8-yard touchdown pass with two seconds remaining to win the game. This week, the Bulldogs stuck with Graetz throughout.

Wiese said starter John Larson will play next week but UMD certainly has to feel better about its quarterback depth after their backups served them well the past two weeks.

“I think Logan Graetz played a better game than he did last week,” Wiese said. “I think his confidence level, and our guys’ confidence level around him continues to improve.”

Penalties were costly for both teams, with UMD — the league leader in that department — having eight for 71 yards and Mary eight for 58 yards.

“We had a couple penalties in that game that were costly for us,” Wiese said. “There are things we can certainly nitpick on and improve going into next week.”

UMD mercifully returns home to Malosky Stadium where the Bulldogs will host Concordia-St. Paul at 12:05 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, on homecoming.

Reached by phone Saturday, Wiese was looking forward to the return trip back home, and thanks to late defensive stops, this was one where the Bulldogs would get to enjoy the ride.

“Absolutely,” Wiese said, laughing. “The bus ride is always much better with a win on the road.”

Minn. Duluth 7-17-0-7—31

Mary 0-14-6-7—27

First Quarter

UMD — Byron Bynum 35 pass from Logan Graetz (Curt Cox kick), 13:13

Second Quarter

Mary — Danny Kittner 13 pass from Logan Nelson (Kevin Powell kick), 9:56

UMD — Dane Lew 13 pass from Graetz (Cox kick), 5:38

UMD — Bynum 5 pass from Graetz (Cox kick), 3:20

Mary — Kittner 23 pass from Nelson (Powell kick), :51

UMD — Cox 39 field goal, :19

Third Quarter

Mary — Kittner 22 pass from Nelson (kick failed), 6:12

Fourth Quarter

Mary — David Smith 1 run (Powell kick), 11:39

UMD — Sam Pitz 2 pass from Graetz (Cox kick), 7:30

UMD MARY

First downs 19 16

Rushes-yards 36-189 28-116

Passing yards 150 244

Comp-Att-Int 13-25-0 22-31-0

Kick returns-yards 3-48 3-59

Punts-avg 6-36.8 6-30.3

Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-1

Time of possession 29:07 30:53

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — UMD, Cazz Martin 17-141, Chamere Thomas 5-40, Bynum 2-17, Graetz 3-12, Wade Sullivan 4-9, Logan Kobus 1-1, Team 4-(-31). Mary, Small 18-133, Diamonte Stugelmeyer 1-2, Team 1-(-2), Kittner 1-(-5), Nelson 7-(-12).

PASSING — UMD, Graetz 13-24-150-4. Mary, Nelson 22-30-244-3, Kittner 0-1-0-0.

RECEIVING — UMD, Armani Carmickle 4-60, Lew 5-42, Bynum 2-40, Dylan Bair 1-6, Pitz 1-2. Mary, Kittner 13-133, Luke Little 5-60, Luke Bodine 1-20, Jaden Andresen 1-16, Isaac Bolton 1-12, Small 1-3.