Beavers start slow in loss to SMSU

MARSHALL, Minn. – The Minot State University football team got a close look at the high-powered Southwest Minnesota State University offense Friday night, and it wasn’t pleasant for the Beavers.

SMSU, which entered the game second in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference in total offense, racked up 530 yards during a 37-21 win at Mattke Field. Tyler Tonderum, the reigning NSIC Offensive Player of the Week, rushed 29 times for 135 yards and three touchdowns.

The Beavers (1-2) committed four turnovers – including three in the first half – and trailed 24-0 midway through the second quarter.

“It comes down to us protecting the ball,” MSU coach Paul Rudolph said in a press release. “They ran 40 plays in the first quarter and we ran eight and we turn the ball over on three of them. We battled back a couple times, but we made too many mistakes to beat a good football team.”

MSU finally got on the board with a 2-yard touchdown run by sophomore tailback Randel Barber with 4 minutes, 17 seconds remaining in the second quarter. Junior place-kicker Brian Gutierrez had a chance to cut the Mustangs’ lead to 14 with 23 seconds until halftime, but missed a 31-yard field goal attempt.

SMSU (2-1) added a pair of third-quarter touchdowns to take a 37-7 lead. MSU receivers Leon LaDeaux and Wayne Peters each had touchdown receptions in the final frame, but the game was out of reach.

“We knew they were going to come out with that fast-paced offense and their quarterback was good,” MSU senior linebacker Josh Weidler said. “We just didn’t play it right away, didn’t communicate well. For the most part, they just outplayed us.”

MSU sophomore quarterback Zac Cunha completed 23 of 39 passes for 280 yards and two scores, but tossed three interceptions. LaDeaux was a bright spot in his first outing after a two-game suspension, catching nine balls for a game-high 131 yards and a touchdown.

Three senior linebackers finished with double-digit tackle totals for the Beavers – Uepati Fatilua (15), Jeff Buchert (11) and Chad Marshall (11). Redshirt freshman Dalton Houghton recorded MSU’s lone sack of the game, and Weidler had the Beavers’ only interception.

SMSU quarterback Charlie Kern completed 21 of 29 attempts for 250 yards and two touchdowns. The Mustangs averaged 5.9 yards per offensive snap, and ran 90 plays to the Beavers’ 70.

MSU hosts Winona State University on Sept. 28 at Herb Parker Stadium.

– Daily News Staff