MOORHEAD—Larry Scott still remembers details from that fall day even though it was nearly 50 years ago. The Minnesota State Moorhead football team was playing at Bemidji State, the fourth game of the 1967 season.
“It ended in a tie, and the bus broke down on the way back,” the 70-year-old Scott said with a chuckle. “It was a strange day.”
Now it would be strange if the former longtime MSUM sports information director wasn’t part of Dragons game day. Affectionately known as “Scotty,” he hasn’t missed working a football game since.
“It’s mind-boggling when you really think about it,” Dragons athletic director Doug Peters said.
Scott will make it 500 consecutive games this weekend. MSUM plays at 1 p.m. Saturday at Northern State in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play.
“It’s nothing I ever intended to do,” said Scott, the school’s sports information director from 1969 to 2009 who is now an analyst on the school’s game broadcasts. “It hasn’t grown old for me. It’s still something I really look forward to. I’m pretty lucky.”
Scott was the first full-time sports information director for the Dragons, starting in 1969 when he was hired by former school President Roland Dille. In 1967, he first started handling sports information duties as a graduate student, but it wasn’t full time.
However, Scott got to travel with the football team, and the streak was born.
“Anything I did was new and appreciated,” Scott said. “I wasn’t judged against anybody.”
Scott laughed when asked how many miles he’s spent on a bus or van to travel to all the road football games since 1967. Too many for him to estimate. He still enjoys the long bus trips, using the time to bond with the coaches and players and take in the scenery, while making numerous trips to places like Duluth, Marshall and Winona in Minnesota and Aberdeen, S.D.
“I think it’s kind of relaxing,” he said. “I love to jump on a bus on a Friday afternoon and bring a book along to read.”
Scott has been inducted into three hall of fames: the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, the Minnesota State Moorhead athletics, and the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Even though he retired in 2009, he has remained involved with Dragons athletics on a part-time basis.
“Any time a football player comes back, they want to see Scotty and Scotty remembers them,” Peters said. “All I have told him is the door is always open for as long as he wants it to be, and I hope it’s a really long time.”
Scott has had numerous memories during the football streak, including the team’s dramatic 30-28 victory against Concordia-St. Paul earlier this season. The Dragons caught a tipped 15-yard touchdown pass on the game’s final play. That highlight made ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”
“That one was certainly fun,” Scott said.
Scotty remembers the season opener on 1970, the first game for longtime Dragons head coach Ross Fortier, who won 152 games in 23 seasons with a .653 winning percentage. The Dragons led 20-6 in the fourth quarter before crosstown rival Concordia rallied with two late touchdown passes from senior quarterback Dale Hertel, who is now an assistant coach with the Cobbers.
That game ended in a 20-20 tie.
“It felt everything like a loss,” Scott recalled.
Fortier turned the Dragons into a consistent winner. Scott recently wrote a book about the Fortier years. Scott is hopeful that current head coach Steve Laqua, who is in his fifth season, can have success similar to Fortier.
“We’ve got the right guy in there,” Scott said of Laqua, who has the team off to a 3-2 start this season. “He kind of reminds me of Ross. I like the way the (coaching staff) treat the players. I’m very hopeful in my time that we will get to make a serious run at a conference title.”
Another highlight for Scott came in 1978 when the Dragons traveled to Coughlin-Alumni Stadium in Brookings, S.D., and stunned South Dakota State. The Dragons earned a 12-7 victory against the Jackrabbits. Sophomore quarterback Mark Reed came off the bench in relief of senior starter Marc Trestman, who now coaches in the NFL, to help spark the victory.
“That took a little courage,” Scott said of Fortier’s decision to bring Reed off the bench. “That was his first big game.”
In 1971, the Dragons scored an upset of a nationally ranked, high-powered Michigan Tech team, 6-0, late in the season in a mud bowl at Alex Nemzek Stadium. Sophomore George Spanish scored the game’s only points on an 88-yard punt return for a touchdown.
“Michigan Tech was huge favorites,” Scott recalled. “It rained for like three days straight, and it was nothing but mud.”
The Dragons had one of their more impressive victories during the 1981 season, according to Scott. They rolled to a 29-0 road victory at Minnesota-Duluth, ending the Bulldogs’ 20-game winning streak.
“It was just a marvelous performance,” Scott said.
The 1981 team, which finished with a 10-1-1 record, was the best football team in Dragons history in Scott’s opinion.
Jim Cella, who has been the Concordia sports information director since 2000, calls Scott’s streak “unbelievable.” Cella remembers how much Scott loved the football rivalry between the Cobbers and Dragons, a series that has been discontinued due to scheduling conflicts.
“With Scotty he loved MSUM obviously, but he also loved the other schools in town,” Cella said. “He loved NDSU, he loved Concordia, he loved coming to all the games. … He was like a walking library. It was great to hear all the stories that he had.”
Scott said he’s fortunate that administrators over the years allowed him to travel to every football game, and he’s thankful that Peters has allowed him to stay involved with the athletics program since his retirement.
“My hobby fits my vocation,” Scott said. “If you find something you really like and that’s your job, you’re pretty lucky… I’m fortunate now. I still feel a part of it.”
Published in InForum.