Statistics don't begin to describe how lopsided the football game was between Minot State University and the University of Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday.
MSU was so desperate to stay with the No. 9 Bulldogs that they attempted a 4th-and-7 play well within field-goal range - on the first possession of the second quarter.
After an MSU stop on UMD's opening possession, the Bulldogs (6-1) scored touchdowns on their next four drives en route to a 44-6 blowout win at Herb Parker Stadium.
University of Minnesota-Duluth running back Logan Lauters scores between Minot State University junior Kewon Tapp, left, and Laron Peoples during the Bulldogs’ 44-6 win Saturday at Herb Parker Stadium.
"When you're playing on the road, especially after a long bus trip that we had, you don't wanna come out flat," UMD senior left guard Garth Heikkinen said. "It was nice to get a couple touchdowns in a row there and come out firing."
The perennial Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference powerhouse dominated conference newcomer MSU (1-6) from the start, rushing for 155 yards in the first quarter and picking up 12 first downs to the Beavers' two. Duluth's big offensive line opened large holes, and the Bulldogs rattled off several runs of double-digit yardage.
"I have a lot of respect for Minot's defensive front seven," UMD coach Bob Nielson said. "Watching them on film, teams were not able to run the football very well against them so I was really proud of the way we were able to run the football today in the first half. I think our linemen blocked real well and I think our backs made some good decisions."
Three different UMD running backs scored touchdowns in the first half, and Logan Lauters and Brian Lucas had two each. Duluth senior safety Cameron Harper scored on a 75-yard interception return just before the break to make it 41-0.
UMD amassed 490 yards of total offense and 288 rushing yards, including 202 in the first half. Sophomore tailback Austin Sikorski ran nine times for 106 yards and sophomore receiver Aaron Roth caught five passes for 113 yards.
"We just got outplayed up front," MSU junior linebacker Chad Marshall said. "We didn't do our jobs all the way across the board. You could really see it early. It just wasn't a good enough effort across the front for everybody."
MSU coach Paul Rudolph agreed.
"They beat us up front and we had a hard time countering," he said. "That's some big, good, physical dudes and we weren't good enough to handle everything they had."
MSU finally got on the board less than a minute into the fourth quarter when freshman quarterback Zac Cunha found senior tight end Kirk Mason with a six-yard TD pass.
The Beavers held Duluth to just a field goal in the second half, but the Bulldogs played reserves for a majority of the half and ran the ball almost exclusively to kill the clock.
"You just gotta go out and understand that if you get down, you gotta go out there and try to become a better football team, and that's all we did the second half," Marshall said. "When we were down early, we just decided that we weren't gonna go out and quit."
Both MSU running backs - senior Blake Eggl and freshman Randel Barber - rushed for more than 50 yards. Cunha finished 18-of-40 for 169 yards. Typically, he completes a couple of long passes per game, but the Duluth defense limited the Beavers' big plays.
"I think we were able to put consistent pressure on the quarterback so he didn't have a lot of time to stand, and I thought our coverage guys played well," Nielson said. "We didn't leave a lot of wide-open guys and we made him make good throws to get completions."
But the story of the day was Duluth's running backs bursting through gaping holes in the first half - again and again.
"That's a good-looking, physical front," Rudolph said, "and we got every bit of 'em."
The Beavers host the University of Minnesota, Crookston on Saturday, and Duluth hosts Bemidji State (Minn.) for homecoming.