ORANGE CITY – Living up to every bit of its billing as the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ Game of the Week, top-ranked Morningside College and third-ranked Northwestern College took a capacity crowd of 4,000 fans on a thrill ride throughout the afternoon Saturday, Oct. 20.
Packed into De Valois Stadium to witness a clash of Great Plains Athletic Conference and national titans, Mustang and Red Raider backers got their money’s worth and more. Back and forth from the get go, each side held a double-digit point lead before Morningside College held off their hosts 42-34 to move their record to 8-0 overall and 6-0 in league play.
“There were so many big things that happened for us (today),” Ryan reflected. “I go back, though, to us not turning over the ball (as the most important aspect). (Senior quarterback) Trent (Solsma of Sioux City, Iowa) was so composed; (junior wide receiver) Bo (Els of Erie, Colo.) and (sophomore wide receiver) Reid (Jurgensmeier of Wahoo, Neb.) both stepped up big today with Bo having three catches of which all were touchdowns; and AP had to carry a large load which he did.”
“The defense played well and made the stops when needed,” he added. (Junior defensive back) Deion’s (Clayborne of Sioux City, Iowa) interception, with us holding the lead in the early part of the fourth quarter, was critical at a big point (in the game). His play was one of them that enabled us to keep (Northwestern) out of the end zone down the stretch.”
The Maroon and White used a balanced offensive attack and key defensive opportunities to earn their 30th straight league victory and 26th successive regular season win. Solsma stayed in his passing groove, hitting on 23 of 31 attempts for 231 yards and four touchdowns. He spread the receiving wealth around Korver Field, as classmate Connor Niles (Sioux City, Iowa); Jurgensmeier; sophomore Jared Meyers (Colfax, Iowa); Els; and senior Addison Ross (Carroll, Iowa) each had three receptions or more.
Els, continuing a three-game set in which he’s totaled seven pay dirt passes, hauled in three touchdown receptions of 20, 22 and 13 yards, and Jurgensmeier had the other which was the 10th of his career. MC’s ground game was also part of the positives, as Ponder carried the ball 34 times for a personal single-game career high 134 yards and added a touchdown.
Defensively, the Mustangs came up with the aforementioned big plays at several junctures against a high-octane Northwestern offense. Upperclassman defensive backs Xavier Spann, a senior from Lakeland, Fla., and Clayborne each picked off NWC signal caller Tyson Kooima; sophomore defensive lineman Nickolas Gustav (Hamburg, Germany) sacked the Red Raiders’ quarterback as one of five tackles for losses; and the Katzer connection of juniors Jacob and Joel of Wellsburg, Kansas, led the unit in tackles and 11 and seven, respectively, which included one tackle for loss apiece.
The Maroon and White return to their home field at Elwood Olsen Stadium Saturday, Oct. 27. Concordia University of Nebraska comes to town for a 1 p.m. kickoff.