Looking Back: Laker-Sioux Bowl IV

It took four years, but the Fighting Sioux finally had to come to Allendale to face the Lakers. This time around, it was Round 2 of the DII playoffs. On a blustery, junior QB Cullen Finnerty managed to still get the ball to his playmakers and avenge the loss UND handed him as a freshman.

November 19, 2005

A little less than a year later, the tides started to turn back in Grand Valley's favor in terms of this post-season rivalry.

With the Lakers receiving the first-round bye, they awaited the winner of Minnesota-Duluth vs North Dakota.

Ultimately, UND finally made the long-awaited trip to Lubbers Stadium to play against the Lakers on a bitter-cold field with Grand Valley wanting some payback for last season's loss at the Alerus Center.

With defenses usually the story in this game...it was only one team that showed up to play defense on this occasion. North Dakota made a valiant effort, and still did an amazing job on defense considering the points Grand Valley put up on offense throughout the season.

Both defenses held tough in the 1st quarter. With a 25 MPH wind heading into the faces of Grand Valley, they drove 37 yards in 10 plays after forcing a fumble that senior safety Joe Ballard recovered. The snap for the field goal on the stalled drive, however, wasn't on target. The first quarter went scoreless.

In the 2nd quarter, Grand Valley took full advantage of having the wind at their backs. Junior quarterback Cullen Finnerty went to the air raid attack, going 85 yards on 12 plays, ending with a strike to tight end Jeremy Cochrane from 26 yards out to put the Lakers on the board, 7-0, with 10:38 remaining in the first quarter.

North Dakota had to punt on its ensuing drive, and the Lakers again went to the air. Finnerty found Preston Garris for a 38 yard gain on 3rd down, and then found Antione Trent with a 26-yard touchdown pass to push the lead out to 14-0 with a little over 6 minutes to play in the half.

On North Dakota's next drive, they made good progress to the Laker 38 yard line before Anthony Adams forced his second fumble of the game and All-American Mike McFadden recovered it to stop the drive.

GVSU's defense was dominant in the first half, giving up only 105 yards to the Sioux offense.

Taking the field for the 2nd half, North Dakota was going into the 25 MPH wind. Their punter Brent Halfmann saw the full force of the wind when his first punt of the half came flying back into his face, turning out a net punt of 28 yards.

GVSU took over and brought the ball back into Sioux territory, but a Scott Greene 48-yard kick with the wind at his back sailed left on him.

On GVSU's next drive, they took the ball from their own 20 out to the Sioux 33-yard line on 6 plays and this time Scott Greene was dead-on, hitting a career-long 50-yard field goal with 5 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter. 17-0 Lakers heading into the 4th.

The Fighting Sioux finally got on the board early in the 4th quarter when kicker Jeff Glas put in a 27-yard field goal with a little over 10 minutes to go in the game. GVSU ate up some clock on their next possession, eating up 4 minutes 19 seconds in 15 plays.

North Dakota took over and continued to make the Laker faithful uneasy, however, as they drove into Laker territory but were stopped when linebacker Rory Steinbach forced a fumble from quarterback Reed Manke and Dan Skuta recovered.

However, the Sioux defense stiffened and got the ball back yet again. With one last effort, North Dakota drove to the Laker 3-yard line before throwing 3 incomplete passes against the stout defensive secondary of Grand Valley. On 4th down, the Lakers sacked another North Dakota QB, Chris Belmore, and preserved the victory.

Junior Cullen Finnerty led the Laker offense, completing 14 of 26 passes for 245 yards and 2 touchdowns. Brandon Langston had 6 catches for 79 yards, and Eric Fowler complemented him well with 5 catches for 75 yards of his own.

North Dakota was led by Reed Manke who went 26 for 41 for 268 yards on the day.

The Lakers proved that 1 team could dominate the whole game in this series...and they'd drive their point home even more in another year.

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