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Offense carries Cougars to 44-40 win

Led by 422 yards from its offense, the University of Minnesota, Morris football team outlasted host Martin Luther Saturday, 44-40 in a shootout that saw 29 combined fourth quarter points.

Brendon Foss was the star of the day, hauling in four receptions for 153 yards, with all four going for scores. The deciding score, though, came on a 15-yard touchdown reception from Danny Kernan with just 3:22 left to play.

Todd Gramenz also scored twice, with his second - a five-yard run - putting the Cougars up 38-34 with 7:32 left in the game.

Just three minutes later, Martin Luther was back on top, as Joseph Lindloff scampered in for his fifth touchdown, putting the Knights up 40-38 at the 4:27 mark.

After Gramenz took the ensuing kickoff 16 yards up to the 45-yard line, the Cougars went 55 yards in just four plays, using an 11-yard run from Gramenz and a pair of Daniel Garrigan passes for the win. On the drive's third play, Garrigan hit Gramenz for 29 yards down to the 15, before Kernan hauled in his third reception for the win.

Martin Luther was only able to gain 12 yards on the five plays on their next drive, as the Cougar defense came up big when it had to. Shane Johnson picked off a Martin Luther pass, giving the ball back to the Morris offense to ice the win.

Garrigan finished with 175 yards through the air and three touchdowns on just 6-of-12 passing, while his counterpart Derrick Foss was 6-of-13 for 139 yards and two scores. Kernan had a career day, catching his first career pass in the third quarter, before finishing with three receptions for 78 yards.

But in order for the Cougars to win it in the fourth, they needed every one of Brendon Foss' four scores. A coming out party for the sophomore, he started fast, getting Cougars on the board twice in the first quarter. The first was a 56-yard scoring strike from older brother Derrick Foss at the 5:45 mark, tying the game at 7-7. Before the period would end, Brendon Foss hauled in his second touchdown pass, this time from Garrigan, covering 42 yards to bring the Cougars within one at 14-13 with just 46 seconds left.

In the third he caught his third pass, capping an 11-play, 75-yard drive with an 18-yard scoring pass from Derrick Foss to give the Cougars their first lead at 25-21. Then he kicked off the wild fourth quarter with a 37-yarder from Garrigan to give the Cougars a 32-28 lead.

In all it added up to a 314-yard day for Morris through the air, with 108 yards added on the ground. The bulk of the rushing game was handled by Gramenz who finished with 92 yards on 23 carries, averaging 4.0 yards per attempt, with no negative rushes.

For as good as the Cougar offense was, the Knights matched them every step of the way. Martin Luther used a dominating ground game as four players tallied over 50 yards, paced by 155 from Lindloff.

Defensively the Cougars were led by a pair of linebackers, as freshman Cody Hickman finished with a game-high 14 tackles, including six solo stops, and Tanner Gramm charted 12 stops, with four solos and one tackle for loss.

Also among the leaders was defensive lineman Mitch Zimmer with 11 tackles. Bryce Molden added the Cougars' second interception, returning it 33 yards to the nine-yard line to set up the Cougars' third scoring drive of the day.

The Cougars posted their best offensive day against an Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) opponent since their 543 yards last season against Eureka. Brendon Foss' day ranks as the second best in the UMAC this season, and leaves the Cougars at 2-0 for the second straight year.

The Cougars will return to Big Cat Stadium this Saturday, playing the season's lone non-conference game, hosting Wisconsin Lutheran at 1 p.m