NCAA DIV. II: Sioux a cut above
UND running back Ryan Chappell didn't make much of an impression against Winona State back in September, carrying the ball twice for 1 yard. He left a lasting impression with Winona on Saturday as his record-setting day carried the Sioux to a 42-...
UND running back Ryan Chappell didn't make much of an impression against Winona State back in September, carrying the ball twice for 1 yard.
He left a lasting impression with Winona on Saturday as his record-setting day carried the Sioux to a 42-0 win against the Warriors in the first round of the NCAA Division II playoffs before 5,073 Alerus Center fans - the smallest crowd ever to watch a UND game in the six-year-old facility.
Chappell rushed 16 times for 235 yards and five touchdowns. He averaged 14.7 yards per carry. The freshman from Grand Forks Central set a Sioux single-game playoff rushing record. His 235 yards were the most by a Sioux running back since Phillip Moore ran for a school-record 282 yards in 1998.
"He's an instinctive runner," UND coach Dale Lennon said. "It's not coached. He has the ability to slide through the line and he has a unique running style that makes it difficult to bring him down."
Winona found out early that Chappell is explosive. The Warriors also discovered early that the outcome wouldn't be much different than the teams' regular-season meeting in September - a game UND won 49-2.
Chappell's first carry went for 56 yards. His second went for a 23-yard touchdown, and the Sioux were up 7-0 with 8 minutes, 50 seconds to play. Chappell scored on runs of 3, 21 and 8 yards in the second quarter as UND led 28-0 at the break.
His 64-yard touchdown run to open the third quarter, which put the Sioux up 35-0, was his most impressive as he used his speed to split the seam of the Winona secondary and outrun a handful of defenders into the end zone.
"This is a crazy game, I guess you could say," Chappell said. "The line opened some good holes. You don't anticipate big runs like that, but our other backs could have rushed for as many yards as I had."
Winona coach Tom Sawyer, however, may have a hard time believing that.
"Chappell ran through tackles at the point of attack, and then he burns you for 60 yards," Sawyer said. "We've played a lot tougher against the run than we did today."
UND racked up a season-high 595 yards, 404 coming on the ground in a game that turned early with Chappell's running and the loss of Winona quarterback Aaron Boettcher to a broken wrist three plays into the game.
With each week, Chappell has become more of an offensive threat, joining Weston Dressler - UND's big-play receiver.
"The kid is a playmaker," UND offensive lineman Brian Troen said. "He can take a play that looks like it will lose 2 yards and make something big of it. The kid has speed. And his vision of the field is what's impressive. There are times when we miss a block and he still makes us look good."
Winona's day soured when Boettcher was dropped by UND's Adam Wolff and Steve Brennan as he threw a third-down pass. Boettcher broke his wrist on the fall, which meant Winona's hopes were pinned on third-string quarterback Mike Trotter, a freshman.
The Warriors lost their No. 1 quarterback, Drew Aber, to a knee injury last month.
Chappell's first touchdown did take some of the pressure off of UND, which had to play a team for the second time this season. And it ended weeklong talk of UND - the No. 3 seed in the Northwest Region - having to play a first-round game instead of receiving the No. 2 seed and the bye it anticipated it had secured after the regular season.
"It was a tough week," Lennon said. "The distraction of not getting the No. 2 seed was something real. But we did a good job of putting that behind us right away. Overall, we were well prepared and aggressive from the get-go."
After Chappell's first touchdown, the Sioux scored on drives of 43, 70 and 68 yards in the second quarter. Chappell's day ended after his 64-yard scoring run in the third quarter. UND's final touchdown came from Chris Beatty on a 19-yard run with 14:07 to play.
While Chappell was running all over the field, the Sioux defense spent much of the day running after Trotter, who completed 11 of 31 passes for 102 yards.
"They were coming from everywhere," Trotter said of the Sioux pass rush. "I got knocked down a lot."
Freshman linebacker Bobby Stroup had two sacks and three quarterback hurries to lead the Sioux defense.
Winona finished with 122 yards of offense - 15 on the ground.
UND improved to 10-1 and heads to Nebraska-Omaha next Saturday for a second-round game. The Mavericks beat the Sioux 21-20 last month.
Winona finished at 9-3, a good season Sawyer said, especially considering it again made the playoffs despite battling a number of injuries.
"We were outmatched by a better football team today," Sawyer said. "But I'm not ashamed of a 9-3 record. I'd take that every year."