Huskies’ pass rush suffocates Beavers
Entering Saturday’s game against the Minot State Beavers, St. Cloud State football coach Scott Underwood knew his pass rush needed to be better.
Through nine games, the Huskies had accumulated 13 sacks. But St. Cloud State overwhelmed Minot State’s offensive line with different blitzes and stunts, racking up a season-high 10 sacks in a dominating 31-0 win at Herb Parker Stadium.
“I felt like the place we really had to be the best at today was really getting after the quarterback,” Underwood said. “Their receiving core is really good so we just had to get the quarterback’s eyes off them and sustain a pass rush.”
The pressure forced Beavers quarterback Isaiah Weed to force several passes, resulting in three interceptions for St. Cloud State. Weed finished the day 11-of-21 for 125 yards.
Minot State is now second to last in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference in sacks allowed with 40, with only Minnesota Crookston giving up more (41). St. Cloud State’s 10 sacks are now the most allowed in a single game by the Beavers, two more than the previous season-high of eight allowed against Minnesota Duluth on Oct. 8.
“I probably asked a little too much today,” MSU coach Tyler Hughes said. “We did some things to change our protection but St. Cloud responded well to it. As the first half went on, we just couldn’t get it right.”
St. Cloud State dominated Minot State on its first two drives, each ending in touchdowns. The Huskies got on the board with a 37-yard strike from quarterback Nate Meyer to tight end Anthony Carver and then from a 42-yard touchdown run from running back Jaden Huff to take an early 14-0 lead.
Mayer closed out the first quarter by finding Carver in the end zone again, this time from 13 yards out. The senior signal caller finished 10-of-23 for 152 yards and two touchdowns while throwing an interception and rushing for 66 yards. Huff ran for 154 yards and two touchdowns on the afternoon. Defensively, Brady Westart and Mitch Knutson had 2.5 sacks each for the Huskies and Adam Josephson had 7.5 total tackles.
“I think we found the right combinations early on there,” Underwood said. “There was a few adjustments made by both teams, but I think we need to be better at our red zone scoring. We had a couple chances to score more but Minot kept us off the board.”
Minot State’s defense tightened up for the next three quarters, only allowing 10 points. But the offense’s ineptitude to move the football cost the Beavers any chance of getting back in the game.
“I do think mentally guys need to be accountable,” Hughes said. “I always tell them either way don’t get too up or too down. But at the same time, we have to play better football than that. Especially offensively.”
Freshman running back Ben Zahniser led the Beavers with eight rushes for 63 yards, while safety Bryce Broome had 10 total tackles.
“Losing like this (on multiple occasions), it’s very frustrating,” Broome said. “With all the said, how you handle it comes down to the person you are. If we were able to put a full game together from start to finish, God, we’d be a good team. But we haven’t done that outside of Wayne State.
“It’s hard but at the end of the day, you have to push through this and you have to prevail knowing you can be a good team one day.”
St. Cloud State (5-5, 4-2 NSIC North) concludes the season against Duluth at 1 p.m. on Nov. 12 in St. Cloud. Meanwhile, Minot State (2-8, 1-5) ends the year with a rivalry game against 1-9 University of Mary at 1 p.m. on Nov. 12 at Herb Parker Stadium.
“It’s a very big game to me, rivalry week is always huge,” Broome said. “We don’t like them and they don’t like us. We need to put the seniors out on a right note because they deserve it.”
Garrick Hodge covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @Garrick_Hodge.