Dragons take flight
Herman Gray took the handoff, slid to his right, navigating the 21 other bodies crammed into 8 yards of turf. Barely getting touched along the way, he moved forward and then there it was green turf & pay dirt! All he had to do was hit top speed and the first touchdown of the year would be his. As the little running back clad in red raced down the sideline, several of the Crookston Golden Eagles defenders gave chase but step by step all they could do was catch air. Then it came, the well deserved celebration with his teams as the Dragons had taken a 7-0 lead within minutes of the game beginning. A great start, but it's not about how you start, it's how you finish!
Crookston rolled into town with one win since the start of their 2014 season. Just off that it would be easy to come to a conclusion that they are pushovers. If you were to only look at the scoreboard, that perception would likely be reinforced. I walked into Nemzek thinking that way about the evenings contest but after the rubber pellets settled, my opinion had changed.
The switch has a lot to do with the quarterback that the Golden Eagles went to work with. He was quick, he had a little giddy up when he was able to turn it on and he made some nice passes. He was a surprising good player. But for all the success that he had individually, the Dragons managed the old "bend but don't break approach." Every time the Golden Eagles would challenge for a touchdown there would be a mistake made by the offense or a play made by the defense.
Don't get me wrong, MSUM made plenty of their own mistakes in key situations. In consecutive red zone appearances the Dragons had a botched snap that pushed them into second & forever, which then became third & forever, and then fourth & no way. At that point getting three and back to the sideline would have been a win each time but their kicker had some issues of his own on the evening.
So things were not all rosy at Scheels field. Boil it down and it just came down to who could manage to make more plays than errors while the clock ran down. To be honest, I'm not sure that MSUM even did make less errors but the ones that they did make were less costly.
So they managed to build on Gray's great start to the evening. Quarterback Bryce Meehl went 0-0 on INT's and managed to recover both of the fumbles. He had negative net yards on the ground so maybe that's not his game & it certainly wasn't his night, but he made some nice throws around the field to offset that. His main target was big Jake Richter. Another big receiver from Detroit Lakes, what are they putting in the water out there??? Okay, nevermind all that. The sophomore receiver looked like a viable replacement to the NFL's Damon Gibson, which bodes well the offense! That's just where the good news starts. Both Meehl & Gray are juniors and Richter is just beginning his second year of play, with two more to go. That's a good core but that's not even all, the #2 running back, Zach Simons, and receiver, Zach Sweep, also both have eligibility extending beyond this season.
That has the makings of a dynamic offense but I gotta pump the brake on the love fest. The opponent must be considered. The final score was lopsided but make no mistake, the win for Moorhead State was far from a certainty into the second half. This may sound patronizing but that's not how I intend it - Crookston did their best and even though they came up short on points, was not that far away. If the ball had bounced differently a time or two the tone may be much different right now.
But that's also to MSUM's credit isn't it, they managed the bounces better than their opponent. To know whether they're frauds or for real this season they'll need a tougher test, and they'll have plenty of them his season!
Tonight was a good start for the red & black. There's work to be done to correct some issues but they only allowed one touchdown while scoring four and getting two field goals before it was over. A good start. What else needs to be said?