A few hours after closing out the 2010 regular season with an 11-0 record and capturing its third consecutive outright Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference title, the University of Minnesota Duluth was rewarded with a first-round bye in the NCAA Division II playoffs as the No. 1 seed in Super Regional Three.
The Bulldogs, one of just three unbeaten NCAA II clubs in the nation, will open postseason play on Nov. 27 at James S. Malosky Stadium by taking on the winner of this Saturday's first round Saturday's first round game between No. 5 St. Cloud State University (9-2 overall) of the NSIC and No. 4 Hillsdale College (9-2) of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in Hillsdale, Mich. In the other first round Super Regional Three matchup, No. 3 Grand Valley State University (10-1) of the GLIAC will host No. 6 Colorado School of the Mines (9-2) of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference with the winner moving on to play at No. 2 Augustana College (10-1) of the NSIC on Nov. 27.
This marks the fifth time in school history (and in the last last nine seasons) that the Bulldogs have qualified for the NCAA II postseason. UMD, under the direction of current head coach Bob Nielson, laid claim to its first NCAA II title in any sport two years ago, ending the year 15-0.
The Bulldogs put the wraps on an unblemished 2010 regular season Sunday morning by rallying for 45-21 victory over Minnesota State University-Mankato in Marshall, Minn. Not even a change in date, time or location (the game was originally scheduled for Saturday in Mankato but, because of heavy snow in that region, was postponed to today and played at the Regional Event Center on the Southwest Minnesota State University campus). In addition to upping its overall record to 11-0, UMD laid claim to its third straight outright Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference championship -- the first time that has happened in the Bulldogs' storied 78-year existence.
The Bulldogs, who have now won 30 straight NSIC outings (they finished 10-0 in the league in each of the past three seasons), dug themselves an early 7-0 hole when MSU's Dennis Carter brought back the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown, and trailed 14-7 after one quarter before reeling off 38 unanswered points. Senior wide receiver Josh Quilling and sophomore quarterback Chase Vogler hooked up on a pair of scoring strikes and junior placekicker David Nadeau nailed a career-high three field goals for UMD which also got a pair of defensive touchdowns from senior cornerback Forest Clements (a 65-yard interception return) and junior strong safety Cody Eich (a 35-yard interception return) as well as a special teams score from junior D.J. Winfield (a 60-yard punt return).
Brad Foss ran for a game-high 97 yards on 17 carries while fellow senior running back Brian Hanson rushed 14 times for 71 yards as UMD out-gained the Mavericks (6-5 overall; 5-5 in the NSIC) on the ground (215 to 105) and held a 309-208 advantage in total offense yardage. Vogler, who is 21-1 since taking over as UMD's starting signal caller last fall, completed 6 of 12 passes for 94 yards and, for the 10th time in 11 games this season, did not throw an interception. Eich (eight total tackles and one fumble recovery) and senior inside linebacker Kiel Fechtelkotter (seven stops) topped the Bulldogs defensively.
Courtesy: UMD Athletics