Minnesota-Duluth prevails 17-13 in D-II semifinals

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — The play opened up perfectly for Minnesota-Duluth quarterback Chase Vogler.

Ben Helmer was wide open on fourth-and-3 from the 34-yard line with time running out and the Bulldogs trailing Northwest Missouri State by three points.

Instead of making the throw, Vogler tucked the football, scrambled into the clear and beat everyone to the end zone for the go-ahead score in Minnesota-Duluth’s 17-13 victory in the Division II semifinals Saturday night.

“I guess someone was open, coach said, but I didn’t see him,” said Vogler, still thawing out after playing in single-digit temperatures and a wind chill of double-digits below zero. “I just cut back and had one guy to miss, made him miss, and tried to beat the guy to the pylon.”

The Bulldogs (14-0) ended the Bearcats’ streak of five straight title-game appearances. Minnesota-Duluth will play Delta State, which beat Shepherd 29-17 in the other semifinal, Saturday in Florence, Ala.

Vogler finished with 101 rushing yards despite missing several plays after twisting his right knee. The Bulldogs sealed the win by stopping wide receiver Jake Soy just short of a first down at the Northwest 41 yard line.

“We didn’t miss a lot of tackles,” Minnesota-Duluth coach Bob Nielson said. “And there was a perfect example, getting guys in the right place doing the right things.”

Minnesota-Duluth is in the championship game for the second time in three years. The Bulldogs beat Northwest Missouri State for the 2008 title.

Jordan Simmons scored on a 1-yard run on fourth down on the first drive of the second half to give the Bearcats (12-2) a 13-3 lead. The Bulldogs then closed the gap to 13-10 on Brian Hanson’s 4-yard TD run with 2:34 left in the third, setting up Vogler’s heroics.

After a scoreless first quarter, Northwest Missouri State took the lead on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Blake Bolles to Jordan Simmons with 4:24 left in the second. Todd Adolf’s extra point attempt clanged off the right goal post.

Minnesota-Duluth scored its first points on a field goal by David Nadeau with 24 seconds left before halftime.

Despite the frigid conditions, Bolles still had plenty of snap on his throws. He completed 19 of 29 passes for 141 yards and a score. But he also threw three interceptions. Cody Eich came up with two of them.

“I’m not going to blame anything on the weather,” Bolles said. “I just didn’t make the plays I needed to play. I feel like I left everyone down.”

On Northwest Missouri State’s final possession Soy caught a fourth-down pass at the Bearcats’ 44 yard line. The original spot appeared to give Soy enough yardage, but a video review showed he was just short. The Bulldogs took over with 1:18 remaining and ran out the clock.

Minnesota-Duluth rushed for 226 yards and limited Northwest Missouri State to 249 total yards.

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