Looking Back: Laker-Sioux Bowl V

Last year, UND travelled to Lubbers Stadium again and faced a talented, experienced GVSU squad. The Fighting Sioux played the Lakers tough, but just couldn't seem to stop Eric Fowler, who had a career day.

December 2, 2006

Last year, the Lakers showed their dominance late in the first half en route to a big victory over the Sioux.

In this 5th installment of the fantastic rivalry, the Lakers came out firing right from the start.

While North Dakota prides itself on their defense, Grand Valley exploited it severely in the 1st quarter.

After deferring to the second half on the coin toss, North Dakota decided to go against the wind in the first quarter. After a 3-and-out on their first drive, they punted to the Lakers. 3 plays later, they were in the endzone by way of a 20 yard touchdown pass from senior QB Cullen Finnerty to senior WR Terry Mitchell. 53 yards in 44 seconds.

Following another 3-and-out, North Dakota again punted but could only get the ball to their own 43-yard line. Again, with 3 plays the Lakers covered 43 yards in 1 minute 44 seconds, all with passes to Eric Fowler. The last pass being a 10-yard touchdown strike to put the Lakers up 14-0 only halfway through the 1st quarter.

About 2 minutes later, the Lakers poured it on some more. Anthony Adams sacked Sioux QB Reed Manke, forcing the fumble in the process. Adams picked up the fumble and went 28 yards for the defensive touchdown.

On the next Sioux possession, they yet again went 3-and-out, and a poor punt gave the Lakers the ball at the North Dakota 34-yard line. After an 18-yard gain to Fowler on the first play, Blake Smolen then ran the ball...the first time the Lakers ran the ball in the first quarter, and it came about 13 minutes into the game.

This drive ended just like the others. Another touchdown, this time Finnerty to Fowler from 4-yards out. Todd Carter missed the PAT, and the Laker lead was already 27-0 with 1:40 remaining in the first quarter.

Eric Fowler in the first quarter had six catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns.

North Dakota finally stopped the bleeding and got on the board in the second quarter when Reed Manke found receiver Brady Trenbeath who then took it 46 yards for the touhdown to make it a 27-7 game 10:16 remaining in the first half.

North Dakota put together another impressive drive on their next series, but Derrick Jones forced a Ryan Chappell fumble on the Laker 5-yard line that was recovered by Matt Beaty.

In the 3rd quarter, Grand Valley threatened a couple times, but Cullen Finnerty and Blake Smolen fumbles kept North Dakota in the contest.

With 7 seconds left in the quarter, Brandon Brady found the endzone from one yard away to keep the Sioux close and make it a 27-14 game.

Grand Valley responded on the ensuing drive, taking the ball 69 yards in 7 plays, with the wind, and ended it with a 28-yard field goal from Todd Carter. The Lakers led 30-14 with 11:18 remaining in the game.

North Dakota didn't quit though, and 6 minutes later, they were in the endzone again. Reed Manke found playmaker Weston Dressler with a 17-yard touchdown pass, but the 2-point conversion failed. It was a 30-20 game with 5 minutes remaining, and both defenses stiffened, ending the game with the same score.

Senior QB Cullen Finnerty was a force on offense for the Lakers, completing 15 of 29 passes for 248 yards and 3 touchdowns, while also contributing 85 yards on the ground. Senior RB Astin Martin also put up good numbers on the ground, rushing for 76 yards on 11 carries. Eric Fowler ended the day with a career-high 12 catches for174 yards and 2 TD's.

Reed Manke finished the game 29 for 51 for 328 yards, 2 TD's, and 2 INT's. Weston Dressler also had 10 catches for 122 yards.

So goes the Laker-Sioux Bowl rivalry. Saturday, we will see a pivotal era in Laker (and Sioux) history come to an end, as Grand Valley and North Dakota meet up one last time before the Fighting Sioux move on to bigger things in Division 1 and the Football Championship Series in 2008. This rivalry has been one of the most exciting events for any Laker or Sioux fan for the last 7 years, and everyone involved is sad to see it go.

From the Laker faithful to the Sioux supporters - thanks for the games, and hopefully we will meet up again in the future. Let's send the rivalry out in grand fashion on Saturday, though.

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