The Minnesota Duluth football team had success moving the football against Concordia-St. Paul Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, only for the Bulldogs to sputter in the red zone and settle for short field goals.

UMD’s first attempt came in the first quarter when sophomore Curt Cox came out and promptly booted a shankopotamus, badly missing wide left from 30 yards out. Cox’s next attempt came in the second quarter and while not as bad, again he missed wide left, this one from 36 yards out.

Cox redeemed himself in a big way by making his next four field goals, including a career-long 51-yarder as the first half expired to lead the No. 18 Bulldogs to a 33-13 NSIC victory over Concordia-St. Paul before a sun-splashed homecoming crowd of 3,894 at Malosky Stadium.

“You have to put those two to the side and go out and finish the game strong — that’s the mentality you got to have as a kicker,” Cox said. “Today, just before the half, the coaches gave me an opportunity again to go out and prove myself, and it was awesome. Good snap, good hold, good blocking up front, it was all exciting.”

Cox’s kick wasn’t too far off Andrew Brees’ program-record 57-yarder set in 2015 against Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. If the breeze had been any stronger for that one, Brees’ kick might still be in orbit.

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Cox had a 17-mph tailwind to work with, and he didn’t waste it.

Cox said he was good from 55 yards out in that direction, but on that one, it looked more like 51.

“It wasn’t my best kick but the wind took it and that was exciting as well. I just got it,” said Cox, who was quick to credit his linemen, snapper Aiden Williams and holder Logan Kobus, who also handles punts for the Bulldogs. “That’s what the operation time is for. You’ve got to have a fast snap and a good hold. Logan did a great job all day.”

UMD, which also got 264 passing yards and two touchdowns from freshman quarterback Logan Graetz, improves to 6-1 while Concordia dropped to 1-6 as Saturday proved there aren’t many easy ones in the NSIC, especially not this season.

UMD outgained the Golden Bears 190 to 78 in yards in the first half but the game was scoreless until Cox lined up at the Concordia 41 for his career boot with 2 seconds left before the half. The low liner appeared to hit the crossbar and bounce in, but Cox felt it may have gone just over the crossbar, hit the support beam and in. Either way, the Bulldogs will take it.

Up 3-0 might not be pretty, but for the Bulldogs it was better than being goose egged going into the locker room.

“It was a different vibe walking off the field after a big kick like that,” UMD coach Curt Wiese said. “Obviously it gave him some confidence to come out in the second half and play really well.”

Cox made field goals from 33, 31 and 28 yards as UMD took a 12-0 lead going into the fourth quarter.

That’s when Graetz opened things up, with the North Dakota State transfer connecting on TD passes to Johnny McCormick and Sam Pitz as the Bulldogs finally separated themselves.

UMD only punted once.

“We’re fine just punting once in a football game,” Wiese said with a grin.

The game marked the return of UMD quarterback John Larson after missing two games due to an injury. Larson, a 6-foot-1, 225-pound senior from Braham, Minnesota, was used almost exclusively as a runner and game manager, with only one throw on the day compared to six carries for 47 yards.

Larson wore a protective brace over his right throwing elbow.

“John played well,” Wiese said. “We’re going to continue to utilize him all over the field. The value of John’s leadership on the field is significant for our offense and really for our team. He has a tremendous attitude.”

Concordia coach Shannon Currier agreed.

Larson was the NSIC North Division offensive preseason player of the year and was backing it up before getting hurt, having thrown for 952 yards, with nine touchdowns and two interceptions in just four games.

“Obviously, he’s a great player and it made our life easier with him not being able to throw,” Currier said. “There’s a lot of emotion and intelligence and leadership that comes with that position and when you have a guy like him and he’s out, that can really hurt. Even when he was in there and we knew it would most likely be a run it didn’t really matter because he still made some things happen.”

That included a crowd-pleasing moment in the fourth quarter when running back Cazz Martin followed a block from Larson, who was in as a tight end, for a 10-yard touchdown run.

“We’re going to keep using John as much as we can,” Wiese said. “He’s going to continue to improve health-wise and we’re hoping week by week we’ll be able to use him more and more in the backfield. John can throw. He’s getting better each week. We’ll expand his playbook as his health improves.”

Concordia 0-0-0-13—13

Minn. Duluth 0-3-9-21—33

Second Quarter

UMD — Curt Cox 51 field goal, :00

Third Quarter

UMD — Cox 33 field goal, 10:10

UMD — Cox 31 field goal, 4:04

UMD — Cox 28 field goal, :00

Fourth Quarter

UMD — Johnny McCormick 18 pass from Logan Graetz (Cox kick), 10:48

CSP — Mason Van Zeeland 67 pass from Abe Schwartz (Sam Henson kick), 10:34

UMD — Cazz Martin 10 run (Cox kick), 6:16

UMD — Sam Pitz 26 pass from Graetz (Cox kick), 2:43

CSP — Brian Lankford-Johnson 2 pass from Schwartz (pass failed), 1:01

CSP UMD

First downs 11 28

Rushes-yards 27-74 46-244

Passing yards 154 267

Comp-Att-Int 12-22-1 16-29-0

Kick returns-yards 4-48 0-0

Punts-avg 7-32.6 1-37.0

Fumbles-lost 2-0 0-0

Penalties-yards 5-35 7-50

Time of possession 26:15 33:45

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — CSP, Jaylin Richardson 18-40, Schwartz 6-28, Lankford-Johnson 2-7, Brandon Marenco 1-(-1). UMD, Martin 11-81, John Larson 6-47, Wade Sullivan 8-40, Graetz 8-22, Armani Carmickle 1-13, Byron Bynum 4-12, McCormick 2-11, Justice King 1-9, Noah Skifton 1-7, Daniel Mitchell 2-6, Team 2-(-4).

PASSING — CSP, Schwartz 12-22-154-2. UMD, Graetz 15-26-264-2, Larson 1-1-3-0.

RECEIVING — CSP, Van Zeeland 2-73, Jake Shepley 3-36, Lankford-Johnson 2-18, Evan Peterson 2-12, Richardson 1-8, Isaiah Koran 1-4, Joey Farley 1-3. UMD, Armani Carmickle 7-149, McCormick 3-42, Pitz 1-26, Dane Lew 2-20, Bynum 1-15, Sullivan 1-11, Martin 1-4.