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4-7 record a letdown for MSUM

A year removed from its first winning season in six years, the Minnesota State Moorhead football team stepped back into familiar territory this year with a 4-7 finish.

A year removed from its first winning season in six years, the Minnesota State Moorhead football team stepped back into familiar territory this year with a 4-7 finish.

It was a year that could best be described as bizarre.

The Dragons opened with a last-second loss to rival Concordia, in which MSUM allowed the Cobbers back into the game by opting to pass instead of running out the clock on their final possession.

Then the big nightmare began in Week 6. That was the start of a head-scratching five-game losing streak.

Four of the five defeats came down to the final 13 seconds. The Dragons allowed 39 points per game during that stretch.

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"It's a lot harder to swallow a close loss," said junior linebacker Jon Miller, who led the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference with 122 tackles. "Then you question one play here or one play there could have made a difference. Our record doesn't show that we improved, but we were more competitive in all of our games."

Before MSUM fans begin sprinting for the panic button, remember this: These guys eat adversity for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Former Dragons coach Chad Eisele left after a 1-9 season to become an athletic director in 2005, and the team went on to finish 6-5 under new coach Damon Tomeo.

Tomeo was blasted for his play-calling and postgame antics at the Power Bowl, and the team rebounded to win three of the next four.

MSUM All-American safety Josh Jones went down with a season-ending injury in the third game of the year, and the Dragons kept plugging away.

"It was quiet. Real quiet," quarterback Dustin Long said of the locker room during the team's losing streak. "It just got frustrating. It was more about us playing together and not pointing fingers. We could have easily started pointing fingers. We never did that."

MSUM's resilience will be tested again when former North Central Conference schools St. Cloud State, Augustana, Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota State Mankato enter the NSIC next season.

That's when fans will find out whether 4-7 was a bump in the road or a trend.

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"We have a lot of work to do in the offseason," Miller said. "It's more than just having everyone (on defense) coming back. We've got to still push ourselves to get better."

Former Dragons great Tiemann dies

Former Minnesota State Moorhead standout track and field and cross country runner John Tiemann died recently of cancer. He was 54.

A member of the Dragon Athletics Hall of Fame, Tiemann was MSUM's first two-sport All-American.

Tiemann was one of MSUM's most decorated runners. He finished third in the 880-yard run at the NAIA national indoor track and field meet as a senior and was 13th at the NAIA national cross country meet as a sophomore.

Current Dragons track and cross country coach Keith Barnier is planning to start a John Tiemann Award for the cross country team's most courageous runner.

Former MSUM coach Ron Masanz also plans to hand out a John Tiemann Memorial Award each year to the winner of the 1,500-meter run at the Ron Masanz Invitational.

Readers can reach Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562 or hhotzler@forumcomm.com . Hotzler's small college blog can be found

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at www.areavoices.com 4-7 record a letdown for MSUM Heath Hotzler 20071116

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