Story and photo courtesy of Mary Athletics
BISMARCK, N.D. – Three touchdowns in less than three minutes and an opportunistic defense carried the University of Mary to a wild 32-26 road win over Concordia University – St. Paul in the 2012 season opener. Craig Bagnell threw for 359 yards and four touchdowns while the Marauders defense forced five turnovers and knocked down a Golden Bears Hail Mary attempt on the final play of the game.
Trailing 14-3 late in the first half and struggling offensively, the Marauders crossed the goal line three times in just 2:21. Following CU’s second touchdown of the game, Nick Jolliffe caught a 5-yard scoring strike from Bagnell with eight seconds remaining before intermission. The touchdown capped a 60- yard, 18-play drive.
U-Mary immediately scored on the opening drive of the second half. Elby Pope caught a ball from Bagnell down the middle of the field, bounced off a defender and raced into the end zone from 34 yards out to give the Marauders a 17-14 lead with only 1:08 elapsed in the third quarter.
On the Golden Bear’s third play of the second half, Marauders team captain Mike Wagner made a diving interception at the CU 29 yard line to set up U-Mary’s next touchdown. On the Marauders first play, senior tight end Bryan Sandy caught a 29 yard touchdown pass to stretch U-Mary’s advantage to 24-17 just 2:13 into the second half.
The Marauders nearly scored in their fourth straight possession but a fumble at the Golden Bears three yard line prevented U-Mary from extending its lead.
The Golden Bears began to chip away at the deficit early in the fourth. A field goal and then a safety as a snap eluded Bagnell and had to be covered up in the Marauders end zone pulled the home team within 24-19.
A forced fumble by Gary Gellerman and a recovery by Mikey Ingemansen led to the Marauders final touchdown. Facing a 3rd-and-11 at the CU 33, Bagnell connected with Tyler Steffen deep downfield. Stripped from behind, Steffen fumbled at the one yard line but Myron Baldoz McArn recovered the ball in the end zone for the touchdown. Bagnell found Sandy for a 2-point conversion and a 32-19 lead with only 2:27 remaining in the game.
Refusing to go away, Concordia scored on a 24-yard Peterson to Cordell Smith touchdown pass at the 1:18 mark. Unable to make a first down, the Marauders were forced to punt and Tyler Ryan pinned the Golden Bears at their own 18 yard line and 12 seconds remaining. Able to move to the Marauders 48 with two seconds left, Scott Maldonado finished off his impressive U-Mary debut by knocking down Concordia’s Hail Mary effort on the final play of the game to preserve the Northern Sun conference win.
A junior safety who transferred to U-Mary from San Joaquin Delta College, Maldonado led all players with a game-high 19 tackles. In addition to knocking down a pass, he also had an interception. Redshirt freshman Nick Nelson led U-Mary with 1.5 tackles for loss. Grant Singer had 10 tackles and posted four quarterback hurries. In addition to Maldonado and Wagner, Andew Richter and Stephon Jones also made interceptions.
After a slow start, Bagnell completed 24-of-40 passes for 359 yards and four scores. He also threw one interception. Sandy finished with five catches for 56 yards and Jolliffe had five for 37. Stefan made four grabs for 101 yards, Pope added four for 73 and Baldoz-McArn had four for 61. Overall, seven Marauders made catches in the game.
Ryan was spectacular for the Marauders on special teams. All six of his punts were downed inside the Concordia 20 yard line. He averaged 44.5 yards per punt that included a 70 yard effort. Ryan also hit a 24 yard field goal and averaged 62 yards on each of his kickoffs.
In addition to Peterson’s four interceptions, he threw for 436 yards and two scores, completing 30-of-48 passes. Smith made eight catches for 147 yards and Nate Thienes had eight for 121. Tre Spears added 117 yards on the ground. Defensively, Jordan Halverson and Josh Trifunov each had three tackles for loss.
Winners in the season opener the past two years, U-Mary remains perfect when playing at Concordia, winning all three games in St. Paul. The Golden Bears are 2-0 in Bismarck.
The Marauders open their home schedule against Augustana on Saturday, Sept. 8, at 2:30 PM.