North Dakota, Central Washington Roll Into NCAA Second Round
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North Dakota 44, Winona State 2 - For the fifth consecutive season - and sixth time in seven years - the Fighting Sioux football team has a postseason date with two-time defending national champion Grand Valley State.
UND got rushing touchdowns from four different players while the Sioux defense held Winona State's high-powered offense off of the scoreboard in a 44-2 win over the Warriors this afternoon in the first round of the NCAA postseason.
The third-seeded Sioux will now travel to Allendale, Mich., to face No. 2 seed and top-ranked Grand Valley State next Saturday, marking the third straight year UND will face the Lakers at Lubbers Stadium.
The year's Sioux squad advanced to the second round with a potent ground game and a stingy defense. UND racked up 298 yards rushing, while limiting the Warriors to 28 yards on the ground and just 236 yards of total offense.
The Warriors finally got on the scoreboard late in the first half, albeit in a rather unconventional manner. Facing 3rd-and-long from his own 1-yard line, Sioux quarterback Danny Freund inadvertently threw a pass at one of his offensive lineman while escaping pressure, resulting in an intentional grounding penalty and a safety for the Warriors.
Those would be the only points on the day for the Warriors, who came into the game averaging 480 yards of total offense per game.
Sioux sophomore running back Ryan Chappell, who ran for a UND playoff record 265 yards and five touchdowns against WSU a year ago in the playoffs, followed a similar script today. Chappell carried 19 times for 176 yards and two touchdowns, with both touchdowns coming in the first half when he rattled off 143 yards on 14 carries.
Central Washington 40, Ashland 24 - Central Washington University held the nation's number three scoring offense to a season-low 24 points, including just three in the second half, as the Wildcats secured their first postseason victory since 1998 with a 40-24 win over Ashland at a rainy Tomlinson Stadium.
In a game featuring two explosive offenses - Ashland was averaging 46.2 points per game and Central Washington 32.7 per contest - the teams scored practically at will in the opening quarter. After going back and forth, Johnny Lopez at 10:01 in the first half and the Wildcats led 24-21. After the feverish start, however, neither team scored again before halftime, trading two possessions apiece.
The Central defense then went to work in the second half, shutting down Ashland on its first three possessions.
Ashland scored its only second-half points on the third play of the fourth quarter, as Belsito kicked a 30-yard field goal with 14:45 left to make it a six-point game. That is as close as the Eagles would get, as Central controlled ball possession the rest of the way - the Wildcats had the ball for more than nine minutes in the quarter - and forced Ashland into a punt and an interception on the Wildcats' two defensive sequences in the period.
Mike Reilly passed for 218 yards on 14 of 24 without an interception, adding 50 rushing yards including a clutch 22-yard scramble on third-and-one at his own 30 in the fourth quarter. Lopez was the focal point of Central's ground game with a 153-yard total. Johnny Spevak led the receiving corps with 98 yards on six catches.
The Wildcat defense was again led by Buddy Wood, who finished with a game-high 13 tackles.
Central Washington, which earned its first playoff win since Nov. 21, 1998, when it defeated Rocky Mountain in the first round of the NAIA playoffs, now faces a rematch with North Central Conference champion Nebraska-Omaha (10-0) next Saturday in Omaha. The Wildcats and Mavericks played in the final regular-season game on Nov. 10, with UNO prevailing 59-21 in Ellensburg. It is the first time in history that UNO has played the same opponent back-to-back as they were idle.