The University of Mary became the first team to run the ball against the Sioux Falls Cougars this season. Unfortunately for the Marauders, they didn’t run it far enough.
USF’s Max Mickey, however, ran for 150 yards and two scores and Jason Towns added two more rushing touchdowns Saturday as the seventh-ranked Cougars pulled away in the second half to beat the University of Mary 38-7 in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference game at the Bismarck Community Bowl.
Quarterback Ian Fieber completed 20 of 28 passes for 206 yards and a score.
Leading 14-0 at halftime, Sioux Falls (3-0 NSIC, 3-0 overall) took advantage of U-Mary mistakes in the second half to hand the Marauders (0-3, 0-3) their seventh straight loss over the past two seasons.
USF coach John Anderson said the Cougars weren’t happy at half.
“We talked about that at half, that we were playing the game they wanted to play,” Anderson said.
The Marauders ran for 104 yards against a team that had allowed just minus-17 yards total in two games. But their inability to finish long drives again plagued them.
“That’s a really good team with a lot of seniors,” U-Mary coach Josh Kotelnicki said of the Cougars. “I’m excited because we have a lot of sophomores and those guys did a good job against a playoff-caliber team.”
The Cougars rushed for 245 yards, but just 100 in the first half. The Marauders had 80 of their 104 yards in the first two quarters.
“Our defense played well all day long against a different style of offense,” Anderson noted. “I’m proud of the way our offense ran the football and we even got our passing game on track.”
The first half started with a three-and-out by U-Mary then four consecutive 10-play drives – two by each team. The only difference was that those by Sioux Falls ended with scores.
The Cougars marched 73 yards on their first possession to take a 7-0 lead. Towns scored on a 12-yard run around the left end with 9:21 left in the first quarter and Stuart VandenHuevel added the PAT.
The Marauders put together a long drive that ended with a bad pitch on fourth down.
Sioux Falls responded with a 61-yard drive that ended with Anthony Holmes’ one-handed grab of a nine-yard pass from Ian Fieber. The PAT made it 14-0 with 32 seconds left in the first quarter.
U-Mary’s next possession went 10 plays again before Bailey Meyer had to punt the ball away. The rest of the half was dominated by defenses.
U-Mary kicker Aaron Brennan banged a 39-yard field goal attempt off the upright late in the second quarter and VandenHuevel did the same thing from 22 yards out, leaving the score 14-0 at the half.
VandenHuevel missed a 38-yard attempt in the third quarter.
At halftime, the Cougars had 100 yards rushing and 114 passing. The Marauders countered with 80 yards rushing but only 15 through the air.
“We squandered opportunities right before half," Anderson said. "We were frustrated a little bit in that locker room, but we settled down and continued to do what we do and were not manipulated by anyone else.”
Sioux Falls picked up the pace in the third quarter. Its opening nine-play drive to open the half ended with a missed field goal, but it followed that with an 11-play, 71-yard TD drive, capped by Mickey’s two-yard run for a 21-0 lead. The drive was kept alive by a pass interference penalty on fourth-and-9 from the 17.
That started a flurry of scoring as U-Mary answered immediately when Jordan Beaty got behind the defense on first down and caught a 69-yard pass from Colton Farmer. The U-Mary quarterback completed two of three passes.
Four plays later, the Cougars got a 27-yard TD run by Mickey to make it 28-7. That drive also was kept alive by a pass interference penalty on third-and-11 from the 18.
“If you’re gonna blitz, the guy has to get there,” Kotelnicki said. “You leave a guy man-to-man against a big wide receiver … you gotta get there. People have to get off blocks.”
Big gains played into the Cougars’ hands.
“When we get chunk yardage, we want to go again and get a team back on their heels and not be able to substitute,” Anderson said. “Those are standard things we do.”
USF outgained U-Mary 473-188.
The Marauders have a short week as they play Thursday night at Upper Iowa.