Aberdeen, S.D. – The Wolves came out of the gates quickly in the 2018 home opener, defeating Minot State 42-16 from Swisher Field. The InsuraCrop Ag Bowl wins brings Northern to 1-1 overall on the year and in the North Division.
NSU scored early and often with 21 points in just the first 15 minutes of action. Gerald Maxwell tallied the first score of the game for the Wolves on their opening drive. Hunter Trautman hit Maxwell for the pairs’ first touchdown of the season, a 14-yarder with 12:03 on the play clock. Trautman continued to dish out daggers hitting Jacob Streit for a 13-yard score at the 4:30 mark, and Jelani Davis for a 35-yard touchdown with 2:29 on the clock.
Minot State answered with a field goal to open the second quarter, however the Wolves and Maxwell were not finished in the first half. The sophomore caught his second of the evening, this time a 43-yard pass from Trautman, putting Northern State up 28-3 with 6:51 left in the first half. That score remained through the final minutes of the period, and a majority of the third.
Chaka Kelly opened the second half scoring as the third quarter ticked down, with a 7-yard rush, right through the Minot State defense. The senior then added the team’s sixth and final touchdown on their second drive of the fourth quarter. It was all Kelly, as he rushed for a total of 75 yards on six carries, including the 17-yard touchdown. Minot scored twice more in the fourth, cutting into the Wolves lead, but unable to make up the first half deficit.
As a team, NSU tallied 27 first downs to Minot’s 15, and combined for 515 yards of total offense, with 227 yards rushing and 288 yards passing. Offensively, Northern converted on 4-of-9 third downs and scored on each of the fourth times they entered the red zone. They held the Beavers to a 3-of-14 conversion rate on third down, and tallied two sacks for a total loss of 17 yards.
Trautman tallied a single game career high 288 yards passing with four touchdowns and a 56-yard long. The sophomore completed 16-of-21 attempts, averaging 18.0 yards per completion. He also added 18 yards rushing on six carries. Likewise, Kelly tallied a single game career high 114 yards rushing with two touchdowns. The senior averaged 6.7 yards per carry in just the 100-yard rushing game of his career.
Maxwell added 61 yards rushing, while Jackson Ness tallied 36 yards on four carries with a 31-yard long. Maxwell was third among Wolves receivers with 57 total yards, averaging 28.5 per reception. The receiving front was led by Jacob Streit and Dakota Larson with 79 and 64 yards respectively. Streit averaged 15.8 yards per reception, while Larson tallied the 56-yard long off the arm of Trautman. Davis added 56 yards receiving, while Kelly and Spencer Johnson each recorded 13.
Noah MacPherson led the Wolves defense with eight total tackles, including a sack for a total loss of nine yards. Jacob Cross added the second sack of the evening for a loss of eight yards. Eight Wolves recorded a tackle for a loss, while another four notched a pass break-up. Alex Gray led the backfield with six solo stops, while Preston Droessler and Jacob Rader each recorded four tackles. Brayden McNeary grabbed the first interception of the season for the Wolves, and the first of his Northern State career.
Jacob Wiedrich had a heavy foot for NSU averaging 48.5 yards per punt. He totaled 194 yards punting with a 66 yard long and two boots over 50 yards. He also added 325 yards on seven kickoffs. Mitch Tschakert sent all six PATs through the uprights, and Chance Olson led the returners with 46 total yards on three punts.
Northern returns to action next Saturday on the road versus MSU Moorhead. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. between the Wolves and the Dragons.