It took all of 13 seconds for Alfred Grear and Angelo State to set the tone Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, and all that was left after that was a Rams rout.
Grear raced 100 yards for a touchdown on the game’s opening kickoff to spark Angelo State to a 48-14 victory over No. 23 Minnesota Duluth in the first round of the NCAA Division II football playoffs before 3,194 in San Angelo, Texas.
“Angelo State outplayed us today,” UMD coach Curt Wiese said. “We wish them the best of luck. They were very classy hosts.”
Angelo State (10-2), Super Region Four’s No. 2 seed, will host Nebraska-Kearney (10-2) in the second round next week. Kearney advanced with a 31-24 win at third-seeded Western Colorado (10-2).
The last NSIC team remaining is Bemidji State, which defeated fourth-seeded Augustana (9-3) 28-24. The Beavers (10-2) play next week at top-seeded Colorado Mines (10-1), which had a first-round bye.
UMD (9-3) was playing in its 12th NCAA Division II playoff game Saturday, having previously qualified in 2002, 2005, 2008-14, 2016 and 2018.
Much was made of whether or not the NSIC was up as a league this year, but if Satuday’s UMD game was any indication, perhaps the top teams in the league just weren’t as dominant this year.
Junior quarterback Zach Bronkhorst was 13-for-24 passing for 214 yards and three touchdown passes to lead Angelo State, while he also had a 69-yard touchdown run that gave the Rams a 14-0 lead just over four minutes into the contest.
Angelo State was up 28-0 just five seconds into the second quarter and led 41-0 at the half. The Rams amassed 441 yards of offense, with about 350 of that coming in the first half.
Grear finished with seven carries for 70 yards and Nathaniel Omayebu III added nine carries for 44 yards and another score as a normally stout UMD run defense allowed 227 yards on 40 carries.
Armani Carmickle caught eight passes for 101 yards to lead the Bulldogs while Byron Bynum had a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
The Bulldogs expect to lose 11 players to graduation but have a couple good quarterbacks coming back in Olson and Logan Graetz as well as Carmickle, who set a UMD single-season record this fall with 1,315 receiving yards on 67 receptions, including 11 touchdowns.
“Proud to be a Bulldog,” Wiese said. “It’s always tough to end your season on a loss, especially seeing this senior class walk off the field for the last time. Our program owes those guys a lot.”
Wiese talked earlier this week about how senior John Larson would get the start at quarterback and that’s exactly the plan the Bulldogs went with.
“John has been our guy for six seasons, and we’re going to lean on him,” Wiese said. “John continues to get better (since suffering an injury Sept. 25 against Wayne State) and is deserving of the start.”
Larson and the Bulldogs found the yards hard to come by against the Rams, who outgained them 411 to 233 in yardage.
Larson finished 6-for-23 passing for 47 yards before being relieved by Olson, who was 5-for-9 passing for 65 yards and an interception. UMD quarterbacks were sacked five times for 31 yards.
While Saturday was a tough loss, a beatdown the Bulldogs certainly aren’t accustomed to, it was a remarkable season in regards to the injuries this team overcame this fall, in particular, at quarterback, where it was an endless carousel between Larson, Olson and Graetz.
“This is as unselfish a football team as we’ve had,” Wiese said. “If you look at what Logan Graetz and Garrett Olson and John Larson have done, in culmination with guys in and out of the game, and not worrying about who’s starting, or who’s getting the throws or the time, they’ve all stepped to the plate and just been tremendous teammates.”
Minn. Duluth 0-0-0-14—14
Angelo State 21-20-0-7 —48
ASU — Alfred Grear 100 kickoff return (Asa Fuller kick), 14:47
ASU — Zach Bronkhorst 69 run (Fuller kick), 10:45
ASU — Nathaniel Omayebu III 8 run (Fuller kick), 3:56
ASU — Noah Massey 12 pass from Bronkhorst (Fuller kick), 14:55
ASU — Fuller 36 field goal, 11:19
ASU — Kellen Pachot 78 pass from Bronkhorst (Fuller kick), 9:23
ASU — Fuller 35 field goal, 1:12
UMD — Wade Sullivan 4 run (Curt Cox kick), 14:56
ASU — Dagen Dunham 2 pass from Bronkhorst (Fuller kick), 10:12
UMD — Byron Bynum 94 kickoff return (Cox kick), 9:56
First downs 15 19
Rushes-yards 38-121 40-227
Passing yards 112 214
Comp-Att-Int 11-33-1 13-24-0
Kick returns-yards 2-112 2-111
Punts-avg 7-44.6 4-37.2
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-0
Penalties-yards 4-29 5-35
Time of possession 29:05 30:55
RUSHING — UMD, Cazz Martin 14-65, Sullivan 11-59, John Larson 5-11, Johnny McCormick 1-6, Nate Pearson 1-3, Chamere Thomas 2-(-1), Bynum 1-(-9), Garrett Olson 3-(-13). ASU, Grear 7-70, Bronkhorst 7-65, Omayebu 9-44, C.J. Odom 13-41, Kason Philips 3-7, Willis Patrick 1-0.
PASSING — UMD, Olson 5-9-65-0, Larson 6-23-47-0. ASU, Bronkhorst 13-24-214-3.
RECEIVING — UMD, Armani Carmickle 8-101, Sullivan 1-6, McCormick 1-3, Martin 2-4, Bynum 1-2. ASU, Pachot 3-93, Kyle Bradford 3-54, Massey 4-53, Omayebu 1-11, Dunham 1-2, Odom 1-1.