Richter has big receiving day to help lead Dragons to season-opening victory
MOORHEAD — Minnesota State Moorhead may have found another big-play wide receiver.
Jake Richter had more than 100 receiving yards and two touchdown catches Thursday night at Scheels Field at Alex Nemzek Stadium. His performance helped lead the Dragons to a 34-10 victory against Minnesota-Crookston in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference football opener for both teams before 2,737 fans.
"I thought he had a solid day," Dragons head coach Steve Laqua said of Richter. "It took him a little bit to get into some rhythm, but then once he did obviously some big catches and runs. We think he can be a good weapon for us."
The Dragons (1-0, 1-0 NSIC) have won four consecutive season-opening games.
Richter missed most of last season with a leg injury. He's playing the same receiving role that Damon Gibson filled a season ago. Gibson, who garnered interest from NFL scouts, had been the Dragons deep threat the previous few seasons before completing his MSUM career last fall.
"It was a lot of fun," said Richter, from Detroit Lakes, Minn. "We've still got a lot to work on."
The 6-foot-4, 214-pound sophomore finished with five catches for 123 yards, including two short scoring catches. Richter capped his day with a 3-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Bryce Meehl that gave the Dragons a 31-10 lead with 8 minutes, 52 seconds to play in the fourth quarter.
"He's a guy who can up and get a ball, make big plays," Meehl said. "I trust him 100 percent. He's a big body. He's a good target."
Meehl, from Oakes, N.D., made his first collegiate start against the Golden Eagles. The 6-foot, 195-pound junior completed 15 of 30 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns.
"I thought Bryce did a nice job of putting the ball in good position," Laqua said. "For Bryce's first collegiate I thought he played really solid football. He managed the game really well."
The Dragons built a three-touchdown lead late in the third quarter. Running back Zach Simons scored on a 12-yard run to give MSUM a 24-3 lead with 1:11 to play in the third. Simons scored one play after Dragons junior defensive back Deiondre Taylor returned an interception 18 yards to the UMC 12.
Laqua liked the way MSUM played defensively against Minnesota-Crookston, which had a new offensive coordinator.
"I couldn't be more pleased," Laqua said. "They had to game plan this thing up in the middle of the game."
The Dragons scored a touchdown in the final minute of the first half to take a double-digit lead into halftime. Richter caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Meehl to give MSUM a 14-3 lead with 35 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Running back Herman Gray had a big first half for the Dragons, rushing for 112 yards and a touchdown on 12 attempts. Gray scored on a 53-yard burst up the middle that gave MSUM a 7-0 lead with 12:14 to play in the first quarter. That capped a seven-play, 75-yard drive after the Dragons received the opening kickoff.
Gray finished with 117 rushing yards on 14 attempts. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Simons added 89 rushing yards on 16 carries. Richter was pleased with MSUM's overall offensive balance.
"Bryce is doing a good job," Richter said. "He made some really big plays. He's just really confident. He's just letting the ball rip and doing his thing. Anyone really can break a big play."
UMC 3 0 0 7--10
MSUM 7 7 10 10--34
MSUM--Gray 53 run (Tjosvold kick)
UMC--McLemore 22 field goal
MSUM--Richter 6 pass from Meehl (Tjosvold kick)
MSUM--Tjosvold 33 field goal
MSUM--Simons 12 run (Tjosvold kick)
UMC--Stewart 8 pass from Scott (McLemore kick)
MSUM--Richter 3 pass from Meehl (Tjosvold kick)
MSUM--Tjosvold 37 field goal
RUSHING: UMC, Todd 8-61, Scott 26-57, Evans 10-11, Stewart 3-5, Team 1-(-2). MSUM, Gray 14-117, Simons 16-89, Colgrove 9-27, Bresnahan 2-4, Meehl 7-(-18).
PASSING: UMC, Meehl 15-30-0 215 yards. UMC, Scott 6-12-1 57, Lara 1-1-0 15.
RECEIVING: UMC, Zwieg 2-29, Stewart 2-21, Groebner 1-12, Mudd 1-7, Smith 1-3. MSUM, Richter 5-123, Sweep 3-54, Marquart 3-24, Bresnahan 2-11, Gray 1-3, Moore 1-0.