It’s an all too familiar seen for the Crown College Storm. Two years ago star running back Josh Edlund was hurt and Matt Michaud had to take over the featured back responsibilities. Michaud was exceptional, rushing for over 1000-yards for the Storm. With Edlund out because of a knee injury on homecoming night for Crown, Michaud came up big again, this time rushing for 148-yards and two scores against archrival Minnesota-Morris in the 27-17 victory. That moved the Storm to 2-5 on the season.
The first half turned out to be a defensive struggle as neither teams’ offense could seem to get much going. Crown received the opening kickoff and moved the ball to the Morris 20, but on fourth and 1 Terrell Thomas was stopped for no gain and the ball was turned over to the Cougars.
Morris then moved down the field in 14-plays to the Crown 26. JC Cummings had two huge runs on the drive, one for 15-yards on second and 13 and the other for 14 that moved the ball the Storm 35. Morris moved to the Crown 15, but a sack by Tyler Byrd and a personal foul call put the ball back at the 36. They would stall at fourth and 22 from the 26 and John Hoff kicked a 38-yard field goal to make in 3-0 UMM.
On the Cougar’s second possession, the Storm defense would make a big play. Santana Mejia was hit behind the line of scrimmage and the ball came loose. Jalen Phoenix corralled the ball at the Morris 34, giving his offense great field position. Quarterback Ryan Synoground then completed a 12-yard pass to Trey Peace before rushing for 8-yards down to the 14. Following a 12-yard run by Michaud, Jacob Pardee scored from 2-yards out to make it 7-3.
Prior to the half it looked like Minnesota-Morris was going to take the lead. Evan Guffey took the ball on a wide receiver sweep and looked like he was going to race down the sidelines for the score. However, safety Chris Strange made what could be the play of the game when he chased down Guffey and knocked him out of bounds at the Crown 33. On the next play, the snap was low and QB Donnie Mavencamp could not get it. Luke Lange recovered the ball to give the Storm offense another chance before half.
The Cougars received the opening kickoff of the second half and marched down the field to add another field goal. Mavencamp started the drive with a big 12-yard rush and completed an 11-yard pass to Taylor Holleman down to the Crown 42. The drive stalled at the 19 and Hoff drilled a 36-yard field goal to make it 7-6.
With Morris starting their second drive from their own 10 they moved to their own 17 where they faced a fourth and 3. The punt unit came on but the Cougars opted for the fake. Gary Defrance looked like he may have an opening to reach the first down, but Lange made another big play, stuffing him a yard short, giving the offense back the ball at the 19. Six-plays later, Synoground scored from three-yards out to extent the lead to 14-6.
The Cougars were moving the ball but were only able to get field goals. At the 11:24 mark of the fourth quarter, Hoff connected on a 36-yarder to make it 14-9. That drive saw Mavencamp make an amazing throw to Guffey on second and 29 that went for 31-yards and a first down. It was a great play but they simply could not take advantage once they were in the red zone.
Following the field goal, the Storm got back in the end zone. Starting from their own 27, Michaud led the drive, rushing six times for 60-yards. His five-yard scamper on first and goal extended the lead to 20-9.
On their next drive, Minnesota-Morris went for it on fourth and 8 at their own 27, but Mavencamp’s pass fell incomplete. Five plays later Michaud scored from one-yard out to make it 27-9. The senior carried the ball on all five plays.
The Cougars would add one more score when Guffey scored from four-yards and, with the two-point conversion, they would be down by 10. However, they could not recover the onside kick and the game would end 27-17.
Michaud finished with 148-yards and 2-TDs on 28-carries. Synoground threw just 11 passes, completing five of them for 52-yards. He also rushed for 64-yards. On defense, the Storm were led by Jake Nohr, who made 12-tackles and had a sack. Hunter Orozco had 8-tackles.
The Crown College Storm will take on Eureka next Saturday at home. Kickoff is at noon.
By Robert Pannier