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Dragons, Miners face off in Mineral Bowl

November 30, 2018 – The University of Minnesota-Moorhead Dragons will face off against the Missouri Science & Technology Miners in the Mineral Water Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 1 at Tiger Stadium.  The game will begin at Noon.

Roger Siegel, assistant director of activities at Excelsior Springs High School, said he thinks it will be an interesting game. The Mineral Water Boal remains the longest running Division 2 bowl game going right now.

“I hope everyone in the community can come out and support us. It’s one of only five of these types of events in the whole United States,” he said.

Proceeds from the game benefit the Quarterback Club, which aids student activities within the Excelsior Springs School District.

In the past, the club funded the purchase of the new wrestling mat and helped fund team’s expenses during postseason travel, but Siegel said they also help with non-sport teams as well. They helped fund the band trailer and have also sponsored a family at Christmas.

The club gives out three scholarships per year, one for a boy, one for a girl and one named for artist Kerry Woods.

From Moorhead, Minnesota the Dragons tied for third in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. Coached by Steve Laqua, the Dragons went 8-3 in the regular season and will make their first appearance in the Mineral Bowl.

The Miners from Rolla will make their first trip to the Mineral Water Bowl and first postseason appearance since 1950 after placing second in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. In his fifth year with the program, the Miners Head Coach Tyler Fenwick became just the 19th head coach in the history of the program and seventh since 1937.

The Dragons offense averaged 28.4 points per game in the regular season and 240.9 yards of total offense. While playing as the quarterback, sophomore Jakup Sinani earned 1,504 yards and 11 touchdowns passing and junior Bryce Meehl with 1,143 yards and 6 touchdowns. Running back sophomore Zach Simons leads the ground attack with 523 yards and 14 touchdowns rushing. Wide receiver sophomore Jake Richter leads the team in receiving with 1,052 yards and 10 touchdowns.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Dragons gave up only 28.4 points per game. DB senior Aaron Doan leads the team in tackles with 86 and sack leader DL sophomore Darius Woods-Steichen 11 sacks and 8.5 TFL’s. Junior Deiondre Taylor completed 3 interceptions to lead the defensive backfield.

Doug Peters, athletic director with the Dragons, said he looks forward to his team having the opportunity to play a bowl game. The team went 8-3 in the regular season and played well, he said. They look forward to playing another week.

“Our players are excited,” he said. “They’ve had a goal in mind and they’ve been working toward it and to see them achieve their goal and have the opportunity to play postseason, that’s what gets me fired up.”

Laqua said the opportunity to play this game excites the team and coaches.

“It’s a big deal for our program,” he said.

They just received three-inches of snow, which make him grateful for the extra time to prepare, he said with a laugh.

Meehl said the team will use the snow to rest up and recover from injuries suffered during the regular season. He said it feels good to be the team that brought some pride again.

“We’re excited to come down and play in a place we’ve never played before and take one more trip as a team this year,” he said.

The team gets after it, Peters said. They play with a grittiness that makes spectators cheer for them.

The Miner offense comes into the Bowl averaging 32.5 points per game and 387.5 yards of total offense. While playing as quarterback, senior Tyler Swart leads the offense with 2,724 yards passing and 25 touchdowns. Senior Braxton Graham, Swart’s favorite target thru the air, earned 975 yards and 13 touchdowns along with one punt return for a touchdown. Junior Deshawn Jones led the running attack with 718 yards and 7 touchdowns.

The Miners defense gave up only 20.9 points per game coming into the Bowl. Senior Landon Compton completed 92 tackles and 20 tackles for a loss and senior Bo Brooks leads the stout Miner defense with 20 TFL’s and 10 sacks.

Mark Mullin, director of athletics for the Miners, said the opportunity to participate in the Mineral Water Bowl excites the team and the school. He said he expects it to be a great game with two good and seemingly equally matched teams.

The last time the Miners participated in a bowl game, they beat Illinois State 7-6 in 1950, he said. Throughout the program, the Miners won eight conference titles. In 1980, Mullin said, the team went undefeated but did not gain a post-season game.

Head Coach Tyler Fenwick said preparations for the game continue to go well. This season, he said, proves to be a memorable one. To be rewarded with a bowl game will be a great experience for the team.

“It’s a great honor to be selected for this game,” he said.

After receiving calls and emails from fans from throughout the United States, Fenwick said he expects many Miner fans to join Excelsior Springs in the stands.

Tickets cost $10 and can be purchased at the gate or by calling 816-519-5627.

For more information visit mineralwaterbowl.net

By Kimberely Blackburn • kimberely@leaderpress.com

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