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Cougars fall 45-13 to Northwestern on Homecoming

The University of Minnesota, Morris football team fell 45-13 to visiting Northwestern on Homecoming Saturday, despite taking an early lead.

It was a key Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) match-up, with the two teams coming in tied for fourth place in the league standings, behind a trio of unbeaten teams at the top.

After starting the season 2-0, the Cougars drop their third straight, while Northwestern heads the other direction with their third straight win after an 0-2 start.

The Cougars took the opening kickoff and drove right down the field, covering 80 yards on 11 plays to take an early 7-0 lead. Sophomore running back Leandro Dower capped the drive with a six-yard touchdown run, finding the end zone for the first time since the season opener.

That 80-yard drive would be the bulk of the Cougars' first-half yards, as their next four drives totaled just 75 combined.

Northwestern scored touchdowns on each of their three first half possessions, with the only negative being a pair of missed extra-point kicks. The Eagles scored on drives of 54, 69, and 70 yards to take a 19-7 lead into the halftime locker room.  

Northwestern picked up in the second right where they left off, taking the opening kickoff 68 yards on just six plays, taking only 2:11 off the clock to go up 26-7. In all, the Eagles would score six straight touchdowns before the Cougars got back on the board.

Trailing 38-7 in the fourth quarter, Morris quarterback Derrick Foss scored on a one-yard plunge, capping off a 12-play, 66-yard drive.

The two rushing touchdowns were a bright spot for the Cougars, but on the day they were held to their lowest output on the ground all season, with just 91 yards. Northwestern entered the game with the best rushing defense in the UMAC, and for the second consecutive game, the Cougars were held under the century mark on the ground.

After averaging better than 190 rushing yards in their first three games, Morris has averaged just 92 in its last two, while allowing better than 290 over their last four.

Dower led the way for the Cougars on the ground with 56 yards, while no other player topped the 20-yard mark.

Northwestern outgained the Cougars 504-261 on the game - UMM's lowest output of the season - and held the Cougars to just 4-of-11 on third down. A balanced attack saw the Eagles rush for 243 and five scores, while also passing for 261 with one touchdown through the air.

The Cougars passed for170 yards, their third best total of the season, with Foss doing the bulk of the work, finishing with 138 yards on 12-of-20 passing. Five different players caught passes for the Cougars, including Brendon Foss who posted the second best mark of his career with five receptions, and Devon Johnson who hauled in four passes, the first he's caught since the season opener.

Cody Hickman led the defense with 12 tackles, including a game-high five solo stops. The 12 is the second best mark of his career, and the fourth straight game he has finished with at least eight. Christopher Coromelas added 11 total tackles, with a game-high 10 assisted stops.  

Morris finished with 5.0 tackles for a loss of 11 yards, the most they've posted since the season opener, but Northwestern spent much of the day in the Cougar backfield, tallying 10.0 tackles for loss.

The Cougars will look to get back in the win column this weekend on the road in Fulton, Mo., taking on Westminster who dropped their first game Saturday after a 22-18 loss at Eureka. Kickoff on Oct. 8 is set for 1 p.m.