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MSU football looks to build off defensive effort at Northern State

The Beavers continue to build momentum as they head out on the road to start the second half of their season this weekend, playing at Northern State in the team’s second trip to South Dakota this fall.

Two weekends earlier, the Beavers began building momentum as Minot State’s offense erupted for 35 points against Bemidji State Oct. 2. This past weekend, the Beavers’ defense turned in its best effort of the season which included four takeaways. Now Minot State (0-6 overall, 0-2 North Division) looks to put it all together against a tough Wolves (4-2, 0-1) team Saturday night at 6 p.m.

“We have faced and been tested weekly by very good football teams already this season, so we have to use those experiences to prepare and play confidently against another good team,” Minot State head coach Mike Aldrich said. “We need to be fundamentally sound and play good team defense, focus on ourselves, and be in control of taking away what we want to take away.”

Building on the confidence the team has mustered over the past two weekends will be key for the Beavers as they continue their search for their first win with five games left on the schedule.

LAST TIME OUT

The Minot State defense stepped up, giving the Beavers a chance at a comeback against visiting Minnesota State Moorhead. The unit came up with four turnovers and a sack while pitching a second-half shutout.

Allowing just two first-half offensive touchdowns, the Beavers found themselves in a battle only to fall 29-17 to the Dragons, who withstood a pair of late Minot State touchdowns.

The Beavers fell behind as a 58-yard interception return for a touchdown and a 23-yard blocked punt return for a score help Minnesota State Moorhead steal the first-half momentum and build a 29-3 advantage at halftime.

The Beavers battled throughout, though, as junior defensive back Caleb Ness recovered two fumbles. Fellow defensive backs Roma’n Grissett and Knylen Miller-Levi each intercepted a pass for Minot State, which had its best day defensively of the season in terms of takeaways.

“We played well defensively, yielding two touchdowns and forcing four turnovers,” Aldrich said. “We also did a very good job of minimizing explosive plays allowed. Having that type of success builds confidence going into our next game.”

Those extra possessions for the Beavers led to an 11-yard touchdown run by Ali Mohamed and a 25-yard pitch and catch touchdown from quarterback Dawson Macleary to wide receiver Peyton Lamoureux, which got Minot State as close as 29-17 before the comeback fell short.

Freshman defensive lineman Jonathan Leon added a sack on the day, and fellow defensive lineman Jordan Will finished with 10 tackles to lead the strong defensive effort.

Mohamed finished with 89 rushing yards on 20 carries while Macleary tied an NCAA Division II single-game school record with 52 pass attempts, completing 24 for 298 yards.

Lamoureux and tight end Jaxon Lundeen were the Beavers’ top targets as Lamoureux caught six passes for 120 yards and Lundeen snagged seven receptions for 46 yards.

COACH ALDRICH’S KEYS TO THE GAME

“Ultimately, we need to focus on the process and execution,” Coach Aldrich said. “We need to control what we can control and take advantage of the gray areas. All three phases need to work together and have success to allow the confidence to continue to build throughout the game.”

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