Through snowy conditions and below zero wind chills, the Minnesota Morris football team sent their five seniors out in style with a 21-13 season-finale win over Greenville Saturday, Nov. 10, at Big Cat Stadium in Morris.
Despite the bitter cold, both offenses would get in the end zone on their first possessions. Greenville drove 60 yards on nine plays on their opening drive that ended with a 2-yard Christian Moss touchdown rush and a 7-0 Greenville lead.
Kicking off into a stiff wind, the Panther kick fluttered in the air that bounced off a Cougar into the arms of a Greenville player. UMM's Royal Weber quickly gave possession back to the Cougars as he intercepted a Dalton Mitchell pass at his own 32.
The Cougars would drive 68 yards on just six plays to even the score. Justin Masloski started the drive with a 29-yard connection with senior Steven Severson. Masloski then rushed for 18 yards down to the Greenville 21. Three plays later, Masloski hit Nathan Sheridan for a 5-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7 with 6:07 left in the first quarter.
The score would remain tied at 7 going into halftime thanks to the Cougar defense. Early in the second quarter, Greenville drove down to the UMM 17. The defense forced a fumble that senior Trent Maloney returned 49 yards to keep the game tied.\
After an elongated halftime to allow the players to thaw out in the locker room, the Cougars came out on fire in the second half through a continuous snowfall. On the first play of the half, Masloski called his own number, got loose down the left sideline and scampered 75 yards for a Cougar touchdown that gave them a 14-7 lead.
After needing just one play to score on their opening drive of the half, the Cougars used 12 plays to score again on their next possession. Masloski connected three times with Severson on pass plays during the 76-yard drive that ended with a Severson 8-yard touchdown reception in the right flat for a 21-7 UMM lead with 4:49 remaining in the third.
Greenville quickly countered though as Eric Kranh rushed 59 yards for a touchdown to pull the Panthers within 21-13 following a fumble on the point after attempt.
On the opening drive of the fourth quarter, Greenville drove 53 yards on 14 plays to the UMM 8. On a fourth-and-goal, senior Nathan Gehlen put an end to the Panther drive with a huge eight-yard sack to give the Cougars possession.
UMM expertly used clock on the ensuing possession. Without scoring, the Cougars drove 64 yards on 11 plays, but used 6:10 of the clock, leaving Greenville only 2:46 remaining to drive 80 yards to try to even the score. Greenville was unable to get passed midfield the rest of the game giving the Cougars the victory.
Masloski had a great all-around effort with 144 yards passing and 150 yards rushing while accounting for three touchdowns. Severson caught four balls for 59 yards and Caleb Kemp rushed for 50 yards.
Nikolas Pahno and Maloney led the Cougars with 12 tackles each. Preston Fifarek added 11 stops. Gehlen collected two and a half sacks to go along with eight tackles.
Minnesota Morris closes the season with a 3-7 overall record and 3-5 mark in UMAC play.
UMAC FOOTBALL OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Justin Masloski, Jr., Minnesota Morris
- Led Minnesota Morris to a season finale win over Greenville
- Was 12-of-24 passing for 144 yards and a TD
- Ran for 152 yards on 13 carries (11.5 yd/carry) and a TD