GREENVILLE, Ill. – The University of Minnesota Morris football team had its season come to a close with a 47-21 loss at Greenville University on Saturday. The Cougars, who entered the day looking for a share of the UMAC regular season title, finish the season at 5-5 while the Panthers claimed the UMAC title outright and will advance into the Division III playoffs beginning next week.
The first quarter flew by as the opening 15 minutes was taken up by three lengthy drives. Greenville received the opening kick and converted a fourth down in Minnesota Morris territory before scoring on a 19-yard run from Paul Garrett to take a 7-0 lead. On the ensuing possession, the Cougars picked up three first downs before being forced to punt and handing the ball back to the Panthers on their own 27. Greenville retained possession for the remainder of the first quarter and then punched it in again early in the second quarter with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Chase Butterfield to Delrey Crowder. The extra point was blocked by Gavin Paulson, but GU still held a 13-0 lead.
The next two drives for Minnesota Morris each ended with fumbles and Greenville converted both of those into points, taking a commanding 27-0 lead on the Cougars. In the waning minutes before halftime, UMN Morris got on the board with a 74-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Reeb to Branden Carlson to make it 27-7. The Cougars nearly made it halftime unscathed from there, but Greenville busted a 60-yard touchdown run out of nowhere to increase its lead to 33-7 before Paulson blocked another extra point for Minnesota Morris.
Minnesota Morris made a dent in the deficit by taking the opening possession of the third quarter and scoring on a nine-play, 65-yard drive. The Cougars used some trickery along the way, getting 15 yards on a halfback pass from Blake Johnson and later getting another first down on a lateral from Reeb to Christian Diederich. Facing a third-and-goal from the Greenville two-yard line, Reeb found Carlson on a completion and the extra point from Alex Happ made it a 33-14 ballgame.
After forcing a stop on Greenville’s first offensive possession of the second half, Minnesota Morris moved the ball downfield on another nine-play scoring drive. Johnson had a 23-yard run along the way to move the Cougars into the Panther red zone. Facing a third down, Reeb found Carlson once again for a 16-yard completion. The extra point got UMN Morris to within 33-21.
In the late stages of the third quarter, Greenville had consecutive plays of more than 25 yards, moving the ball quickly down to the Cougar one-yard line where Garrett ran it in. Another missed point-after attempt from the Panthers left the game at 39-21 entering the fourth quarter.
The clock was the enemy for Minnesota Morris and a failed fake punt early in the final quarter made things difficult on the Cougars. Greenville took the ensuing possession 50 yards and scored on a 15-yard run from Butterfield before scoring a two-point conversion to increase the lead to 47-21 with just over 10 minutes to play.
On the last gasp from the Cougars, Reeb completed a 54-yard pass to Matt Laur to get the ball to the Greenville 10-yard line. From there, the Panther defense stiffened and stopped Minnesota Morris at the three-yard line. Greenville took over deep in its own territory but proceeded to milk the remainder of the nearly nine minutes that were left with a 15-play drive.
Reeb finished the day 16-of-28 for 260 yards and three touchdowns, all of which went to Carlson. Johnson was the leading rusher for the Cougars with 10 carries for 67 yards. Carlson had seven catches for 147 yards. Paulson made 16 tackles on the day (nine solo) for the defense, while Hunter Infanger added another 10 (two solo).