Time of Poss.
MENOMONIE (September 3, 2015) - UW-Stout gave Bethel University all they could handle for three quarters, but the 20th-ranked Royals pulled away with three fourth quarter touchdowns to hand the Blue Devils a 35-20 season-opening loss at Don & Nona Williams Stadium Thursday.
The Royals finished with 516 total yards of offense, with quarterback Andrew Dzurik completing 21-of-27 passes for 270 yards and four TDs, but was picked off twice by the Blue Devils.
Stout piled up 422 yards of offense, well over last year's average of 281.2 yards. Quarterback Hank Kujak (Sr, Blair) was 30-for-52 for 341 yards – all career-bests - and a TD.
The Blue Devils took the first lead of the game, driving 80 yards in four plays, with the key play of the drive a 45-yard pass from Kujak to Brian Alvarez (Sr, Atwater, Calif) to the Bethel 15. A Bethel personal foul on the tackle moved th ball to the 9 and Kujak hit Chris Pica-Anderson (Jr, Eleva) for the score at 8:35 in the first.
Bethel answered back three minutes later on a six-play, 75 yard drive capped off by a 40-yard pass from Dzurik to Charles Johnson with 5:42 on the first quarter clock. The Royal took the lead on a 13-play, 77-yard, 7-minute drive when Josh Werness scored from one yard out.
Stout stopped the Royals on fourth down in the second and Tony Blair (So, Chippewa Falls) intercepted a pass early in the quarter, but the Blue Devils could not convert the turnover to points. Stout picked off Dzurik on the following drive when Josh Johnson (Jr, Little Canada, Minn) stepped in front of a pass. Stout drove to the Bethel 7, putting the change in on a 25-yard field goal by Taylor Pahl at 5:44.
The Blue Devil defense held fast on the following drive, forcing Bethel into a 3-and-out. Stout drove to the Bethel 21, and Pahl booted his second field goal of the game - a 38-yarder - to pull within 14-13.
Bethel went to work, scoring three times, all on passes by Dzurik. Dzurik hit Bryce Marquardt with a 41-yard pass at 13:08, the connected with Drew Neuville twice - on an 11-yard score at 8:49 and again at 4:42 on a 46-yard catch.
The Blue Devils did get a late score when Kujak led an 8-play, 70-yard drive in 94 seconds, finding Jordan Dabney (Jr, Monteca, Calif) in the corner of the end zone with 3:02 left. Bethel was able to run out the clock.
Stout's Alvarez had a career-day, pulling in seven Kujak passes for 135 yards. Freshman Kevion McDonald (Hopkins, Minn) had a successful debut, with seven receptions for 72 yards. Pica-Anderson had six grabs for 53 yards. Stout finished with 341 passing yards and 81 rushing yards.
The Royals had a balanced attack, tallying 275 passing yards and 241 rushing yards. Neuville had seven catches for 92 yards and two scores. Marquardt had four receptions for 66 yards. Marshall Klitzke careeied the ball 21 times for 99 yards. Bridgeport Tusler got the ball 13 times for 85 yards.
Stout forced three turnovers - the interceptions by Blair and Johnson, both career firsts - and a fumble recovery by Johnson in the second period. The Blue Devil offense had no turnovers.
Stout returns to action Saturday, Sept. 12 when they travel to Dubuque, Iowa, to face Loras College. Stout returns to Williams Stadium, Saturday, Sept. 19 when they will host sixth-ranked Wartburg College.