Chappell's record day leads Sioux

GRAND FORKS -- On his last carry, University of North Dakota running back Ryan Chappell cleared the final Central Washington defender and had the goal line in sight.

GRAND FORKS -- On his last carry, University of North Dakota running back Ryan Chappell cleared the final Central Washington defender and had the goal line in sight.

But then his right leg began to cramp.

Seconds later, Chappell's left leg began to cramp. "Both legs gave out and I couldn't move anymore," Chappell said as he was pulled down at the Central Washington 11-yard line.

By that time, however, Chappell had done enough.

That final Chappell carry lifted him to the top of the UND record book. And it also was the big play in UND's 35-28 down-to-the-wire football win against Central Washington on Saturday before 10,743 Potato Bowl fans in the Alerus Center.


Chappell rushed for 306 yards on 28 carries, breaking Phillip Moore's single-game rushing record by 24 yards. Chappell's last carry went for 59 yards. Four plays later, Brandon Brady scored from the Wildcats' 1 to break a 28-28 tie and give No. 2 UND its third straight win to open the season.

"We were challenged and we responded," UND coach Dale Lennon said. "That was the test we knew had to pass sooner or later."

After UND routed two previous opponents, Central Washington stood toe to toe with the Sioux, who produced more than 500 yards of offense for the third straight game.

UND went up 14-0, needing only 54 seconds to score its first touchdown. But the Wildcats, on the strength of quarterback Mike Reilly's arm and the running of Johnny Lopez, rallied to tie it at 21 and 28.

Lopez's 4-yard touchdown run tied the game at 28 with 3:59 to go. On UND's next offensive play, Chappell took a handoff from Danny Freund, veered to the left and outran Central Washington's defense to the Wildcats' 11. Chappell fought cramps most of the day, but both legs cramped up on his final run.

"I couldn't believe I was pulling away," Chappell said before his last bout with cramps.

His teammates believed it.

"He's an amazing running back," Sioux offensive lineman Brian Troen said. "You give him a little seam and he can do big things with it."


Brady took over for Chappell and carried the ball three of UND's next four plays. Brady's 1-yard touchdown run, however, didn't leave the Sioux feeling comfortable.

The Wildcats' Micah Lape returned the ensuing kickoff 50 yards to the Sioux 45. But the Wildcats gained only 5 more yards.

Reilly's final pass - intended for Chris Rohrbach near the Sioux 20 - was broken up by Derek Malner and Rory Manke.

"We were on our toes on the sideline," Freund said of the Wildcats' final possession. "But we have faith in our defense, just like they have faith in us."

With a size advantage up front, it was UND's intention to give the Wildcats a steady diet of Chappell, who averaged 10.9 yards per carry. He scored UND's first two touchdowns on runs of 37 and 33 yards.

The quick 14-0 lead, however, didn't grow. The Wildcats closed to within 14-7 late in the first quarter on Rohrbach's 2-yard scoring pass from Reilly.

The game turned to the air in the third quarter. With Central Washington focusing on Dressler, Freund threw touchdown passes of 45 and 53 yards to Weston Dressler.

Despite another big offensive performance, the Sioux couldn't pull away, mainly because of missed scoring opportunities. UND fumbled twice inside the Central Washington 6, and Brandon Hellevang missed two field goals.


The Sioux led 21-7 early in the third quarter after Dressler's first score. But the Wildcats scored back-to-back touchdowns on Spevak's 6-yard pass from Reilly and on Jared Bronson's 83-yard toss from the Wildcats quarterback, a preseason Division II All-American.

That set up a wild final seven minutes, which were highlighted by Chappell's game-breaking run. UND finished with 579 yards of offense, compared to 447 for Central Washington.

"I just felt good about coming here and competing until the end," Central Washington coach Beau Baldwin said.

The Grand Forks Herald and The Dickinson Press are both owned by Forum Communications Co.

What To Read Next
Get Local