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Turnovers costly as Cougars fall 27-14 at Westminster

Six turnovers, including two for scores, were the difference Saturday as the University of Minnesota, Morris football team lost at Westminster 27-14 in Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) play.

The Cougars fumbled three times and threw three interceptions with Westminster returning one of each for touchdowns.

Morris is now 2-4 overall and 2-3 in the UMAC.

Westminster improved to 5-1 and 4-1.

When the Cougars could hold onto the ball, the offense was able to move, outgaining the Blue Jays 279-189. When they didn't, the Cougar defense came up big time and again, allowing just two scores to the Blue Jay offense, including five three-and-outs and three drives for negative yardage, forcing a season-high eight punts.

The Cougars fumbled on their opening drive with the Blue Jays recovering for the game's first touchdown, going up 7-0 less than four minutes into the game. It would stand as the only score of the first quarter, with the Cougar defense posting a nice stand late to hold the Blue Jays off the board.

With the ball near midfield, Morris fumbled for a second time, giving the ball back to Westminster at their own 45 with 2:45 left of the clock. The Blue Jays found nowhere to run, though, as the Cougars pushed them back 16 yards before they were forced to punt.

The second started with the Cougars' first interception after going 12 yards on three plays, but again the defense held strong. For the second time, UMM pushed Westminster back, this time for a total of six yards, again forcing a punt back to the Cougars.

Morris then put together a 64-yard drive on nine plays, capped by a 27-yard touchdown pass from Ted Hoffman to Brendon Foss to tie the game.

Coming out of the half, Hoffman and Foss again hooked up, this time a 13-yard pass to cap off a seven-play, 63-yard drive to give the Cougars their first lead.

The Blue Jays responded with an eight-play, 63-yard drive to tie the game back up at 14.

Another Cougar interception on the ensuing drive came up empty for the Blue Jays, as the Morris defense answered with an interception of their own.

Westminster would eventually get their third touchdown late in the third to go up 21-14, and hold the Cougar offense quiet until late in the fourth.

Taking over at their own 31-yard line in the final minute, the Cougars were able to drive near midfield looking for the tying score. But as had been the story all game, a turnover became their Achilles heel. A pass into Blue Jay territory was intercepted at the 35-yard line and returned all the way to the endzone to end the game.

The Cougars drop their fourth straight, while Westminster gets back in the win column after a first loss last week.

Morris will return home as they attempt to break their losing streak against Eureka in Big Cat Stadium on Oct. 15 at 1 p.m. Last season against the Red Devils, the Cougars went on the road to post a 47-29 win