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Turnovers costly in Cougars' 28-21 loss to Martin Luther

The University of Minnesota, Morris football team turned the ball over four times Saturday in a 28-21 homecoming loss to visiting Martin Luther.

With the loss, UMM falls to 3-2 overall and 3-1 in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference.

Martin Luther, now 3-3, 2-2, made the most of the UMM miscues, turning four turnovers and a fourth down stop into 21 of 28 points. The Knights ran 82 plays and totaled 427 yards, with the bulk coming from a churning ground game that went for 295 yards, including over 200 in the second half.

UMM proved opportunistic in its own right, with 14 points off turnovers, including a quick strike six-play, 67-yard drive early in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit in half and pull the score to 21-14.

From there, though, the Knight ground game took over as Martin Luther put together a 15-play, 87-yard drive that ran 7:18 off the clock and punched in the eventual game-winning score. The drive was their third of the day that went over 10 plays, with each resulting in a touchdown and taking over five minutes off the clock. With just 2:38 to play Martin Luther led 28-14.

The Cougars made it interesting on the ensuing drive, however, covering 52 yards in under a minute to pull back within seven at 28-21 with 1:33 left to play. The Cougars got great field position with a 28-yard kickoff return from Todd Gramenz, and with the help of a 15-yard late hit penalty and a 17-yard pass from Daniel Garrigan, they were down on the one looking to score. From there Gramenz made the easy one-yard run for the TD.

The Cougars lined-up for the onside kick, but were unable to come up with the loose ball, allowing Martin Luther to kneel out the clock for the win.

Martin Luther scored first, capitalizing on a Cougar fumble down in Knight territory. Rookie running back Leandro Dower was grinding out a 10-yard run, but in the process of fighting for more yards the ball popped out and was recovered at the Martin Luther 26-yard line by the Knights.

The Knights then went 74 yards over 11 plays to score the game's first points and take a 7-0 lead at 12:51.

The Cougars looked as if they were going in for the tying score with under three minutes left in the first half, but a fumble on the 13-yard line ended the threat and appeared to be the end for the Cougars.

Looking to put their own drive together, the Knights threw an interception in their own territory, giving the ball right back to the Cougars. Shane Johnson came out of nowhere for the diving pick along the UMM sideline, giving the Cougars one last chance before heading into the locker rooms. 

The Cougars made it count, as just four plays later Derrick Foss scored on the quarterback keeper to tie it up.

Turnovers began to plague the Cougars in the third quarter as they had consecutive drives end on an interception, downs, and another interception. All while the Knights scored 14 points to take a 21-7 lead into the fourth quarter.

Foss had a rather efficient day, completing 13 of 27 passes for 173 yards, but his two interceptions and fumble were too much to overcome. Garrigan entered late and finished four of six for 80 yards with a 51-yard touchdown to John Russow.

Gramenz was the Cougars' leader on the ground with 85 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.

The Knights were led by quarterback Greg Holzhueter who passed for 132 yards and a score, while also finishing as the game's leading rusher with 112 yards on 15 carries and two scores. The Knights were in ball control mode all day, controlling the clock for 38:38, including a 12:10 mark in the fourth quarter alone.

In nearly 40 minutes on the field, the Cougar defense saw 10 different players finish with six or more tackles, led by 12 from linebacker Zach Miller. Adam Gertken joined him in double digits with 11, including 0.5 tackles for a loss.

The Cougar linebacking core all put up impressive numbers, as Josh Ledin notched seven tackles, which included 3.5 for a loss of 11 yards.

With its first loss in conference play, UMM must try to get back in the win column on the road next week, in Roseville, taking on Northwestern. Kickoff for the Eagles and Cougars is set for 1 p.m. on Oct