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Cougars open football season with non-conference loss

Morris, Minn. -

The University of Minnesota, Morris football team dropped the home opener to the Hamline Pipers 37-31 Saturday. Hamline took advantage of two Cougar interceptions in the third quarter to take a 23-14 lead after trailing 14-10 at halftime.

Morris scored first with a six-yard touchdown pass thrown from Derrick Foss to his brother Brendon Foss, but the Hamline offense answered immediately with a 73-yard touchdown run of their own. The Cougars' scoring drive went seven plays, 39 yards and took 3:19 off the clock, whereas Hamline scored on the second play from scrimmage.

Morris went up 14-7 after a five-yard touchdown run from Leandro Dower. Hamline added a 25-yard field goal with :57 left on the clock to draw within three at 14-10.

In the third quarter Hamline put an end to the offensive silence scoring two touchdowns using a very balanced triple option offense.

The Cougars brought the game within six with an early fourth quarter field goal by freshman Cameron Adel making it 23-17 with 14:46 left in the game.

Hamline quickly extended their lead with a 54-yard touchdown run by Kevin Ackerley, his third of the game at the 9:16 mark of the fourth. After a UMM fumble on the next possession, Hamline scored a one-yard touchdown on the play after the change of possession.

Morris made a late run, but it proved to be too late. Dalton DeGraffenreid caught a seven-yard touchdown pass from Derrick Foss to pull UMM within 13 at 37-24.

UMM recovered the onside kick, but the drive stalled as Dan Garrigan's pass was intercepted on the first play of the drive. The UMM defense forced a three and out to keep the comeback hopes alive. DeGraffenreid caught his second touchdown of the game, this time from 17 yards out with 12 seconds left in the game. It was Foss' third touchdown throw of the game. UMM tried the onside kick once more, but was not able to recover as Hamline held on for the 37-31 win.

The defense showed off its speed and tenacity causing two fumbles and recovering both of them in the first half. Sophomore linebacker Cody Hickman finished with a strong 13 tackles, while Matt Zdrazil chipped in an additional eight tackles.

On the offensive end Leandro Dower racked up 98 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown. Both Cougar quarterbacks had a good day throwing the ball. Derrick Foss was 15-of-27 for 217 yards, three touch downs, and one interception. Dan Gerrigan was 10-of-24 for 145 yards and one interception.

Freshman receiver Dalton DeGraffenreid tallied 85 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

Morris remains home at Big Cat Stadium Saturday, Sept. 8 for a UMAC match up against Martin Luther starting at 1 p.m. Last year's game between the Cougars and Knights turned into an offensive clinic for both teams with the Cougars edging out a 44-40 victory