In front of a packed house at Swisher Field and countless viewers online during the Wolves first televised game on ESPN3, the Northern State University football team came away with a 51-35 defeat of Southwest Minnesota State University in the second annual Ag Bowl.
The Wolves downed the Mustangs in front of 7,960 fans in a game filled with emotion and rare plays. With the victory, the Wolves improve to 1-1 overall, while the Mustangs suffer their first loss of the season.
The Wolves opened the scoring with five minutes remaining in the first quarter, as Christian McAlvain connected with Conner Doherty in the end zone.
The Mustangs, however, answered back in the quarter with a score of their own to tie things at 7-all heading into the second.
Northern put together back-to-back scores to open the second, led off by a McAlvain seven yard rush for the touchdown. The senior quarterback dodged the Mustang defense in what looked to be a sack situation and rushed to the goal line.
The Wolves defense made quick work of SMSU on the next drive forcing the Mustangs to punt just three minutes later. Lincoln Gruber blocked the SMSU punt, which was picked up by Cody Braeger and ran into the end zone for the Wolves third touchdown of the game.
Nathan Shaw added a 23 yard field goal in the quarter, and SMSU also notched two scores of their own to leave the scoreboard reading 24-21 in the Wolves favor at the half.
Northern opened the second half of action with their second of four defense scores in the win. Redshirt freshman Conner Sheehan forced a Mustang fumble and recovered the ball for a 50 yard return and the Wolves were up 31-21.
SMSU returned the favor eight minutes later to settle things at 31-28 as the third quarter ticked away.
Senior Channing Barber opened the fourth and final quarter for the Wolves with his first of two touchdowns in the frame. Barber intercepted the Blake Gimbel pass on his own 30 yard line, and ran it back 70 yards for the score.
Just six minutes later, Nicholas Truen notched his first score of the game, and second in as many games, with a two yard rush to put the Wolves up 45-28.
Although Southwest fought back with a 14 yard passing touchdown at the 4 minute mark, it was not enough to tie things up or seal the victory.
With time running out, the Mustangs worked to keep the ball alive hitting multiple players on the field, Drake Zabloudil tossed a backwards pass into the waiting hands of Barber who turned around and ran it back for six more NSU points.
As a team, the Wolves tallied 20 points of Southwest turnovers, and gave up just three penalties for 27 yards in the game to the Mustangs six penalties for 53 yards.
Northern tallied 311 yards of total offense and displayed consistency converting on 3-of-5 fourth downs and 4-of-5 red zone chances.
Defensively, the Wolves tallied 101 total tackles to the Mustangs 71 and record four tackles for a total loss of 36 yards; including ten yards off a sack.
Channing Barber and Chad Stoterau led the Wolves on defense with 12 tackles each in the game. Barber tallied two interceptions for 70 total yards, while Stoterau notched one tackle for a total loss of 15 yards.
Matt Thorson and Trever Heining followed with nine and eight tackles each in the game. In all the Wolves tallied 16 players with two tackles or more and four pass break-ups.
Truen led the NSU rushers with 83 yards and one touchdown carry. The junior averaged 3.2 yards per carry with an 11 yard long. Chaka Kelly and McAlvain followed with 29 and 12 yards respectively; with McAlvain adding a rushing score as well. McAlvain was potent in the passing game, completing 16 of 23 attempts without an interception. The senior tallied on touchdown and 175 total yards with a 27 yard long.
Taylor Houchin led the NSU receivers with 46 yards on three catches, followed by Doherty with 45 yards on four catches.
Doherty and Riley Frantzen each tallied a team long catch of 27 yards in the victory. Frantzen notched 27 yards receiving, while Zech Culbreath and Zachery Barber tallied 29 and 20 respectively.
Channing Barber led the Wolves in return yards with 87 off a kick-off, while Zachery Barber and Eric Peterson combined for another 29. Braeger led the Wolves on punt returns with 25 yards, while Joe Parlsey and Gruber combined for 26 in total.
Shaw and Jacob Wiedrich recorded solid nights for the Wolves, as Shaw averaged 62.2 yards per kickoff and Wiedrich averaged 41.3 yards per punt. Shaw was also 6-for-6 in point after attempts.
The Wolves are back in action this weekend with a 1p.m. kickoff September 17 at Winona State and return home September 24 against Concordia-St. Paul.
NSU Sports Information