SEWARD, Neb. – The Dakota Wesleyan University football team picked off Concordia University four times Saturday afternoon, but it was the fourth and final interception of the day that meant the difference in the game for the Tigers.
Junior defensive back Josh Thompson intercepted Bulldog quarterback Von Thomas in the end zone with 21 seconds left in the game to stop a late Concordia drive and help Dakota Wesleyan for a 26-23 win in Seward, Neb. The win marked the first Great Plains Athletic Conference victory of the year for the Tigers, who are now 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the league. Concordia is 0-2 overall and 0-1 in the conference.
Thompson’s interception halted a drive that saw Concordia march from its own 20-yard line down to the DWU 16-yard line. The Bulldogs got the ball back with 2:44 left in the game after forcing the Tigers to a three-and-out on their previous possession. Concordia led 16-13 heading into the fourth quarter of the game, but a 21-yard pass from Jon Bane to Arthur Brown got DWU into the red zone and Josh Endres ran in from two yards out to put the Tigers up 20-16.
Concordia took a three-point lead on an 8-yard touchdown run by Thomas with just over seven minutes left to play, but Michael Brown caught a 49-yard touchdown pass from Bane with 4:47 left to put the Tigers up by three, 26-23. Dan Porters point-after attempt was block, leaving the Bulldogs the option to tie the game with a field goal. Both teams punted on their next possessions before Thompson picked off Thomas.
Concordia started the game with field goals on back-to-back possessions. Kenny Zoeller kickd a 35-yard field goal with less than three minutes gone, and the Bulldogs recovered a Tiger fumble and settled for another 35-yard field goal to go up 6-0 with 11:36 left in the first quarter. The Tigers tied the game on a seven-yard touchdown run by Endres late in the quarter and took a 13-6 lead in the second on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Bane to Arthur Brown. That touchdown came after Concordia picked off Bane, but fumbled the ball on the ensuing return. Tiger offensive lineman Spencer Bloch recovered the fumble.
Concordia added another field goal – this one 22 yards – with five minutes left in the third quarter to make it a 13-9 game, and Jeff Balz caught a seven-yard touchdown pass from Thomas with 1:15 left in the third to put the Bulldogs up 16-13.
Endres finished with 166 yards on 41 carries and two touchdowns to lead the Tigers’ running game. Bane was 19-for-35 for 239 yards and two touchdowns. Arthur Brown caught seven passes for 79 yards and a touchdown and Michael Brown had four catches for 59 yards and a touchdown. Dakota Wesleyan ran for 157 yards and threw for 239 more while Concordia rushed for 101 yards and threw for 204 more. The two teams combined for 11 turnovers – DWU had five fumbles and one interception and the Bulldogs threw four interceptions and fumbled once.
Freshman Brady Bonte paced the Tiger defense with eight tackles, including two for a loss, but it was senior Dustin Bergmeier who had a career day for Dakota Wesleyan. He had three interceptions to go along with 2.5 tackles and one pass breakup. He picked off Thomas twice in the second quarter and once in the fourth to help keep the Bulldogs out of the end zone.
Thomas ran for 39 yards to lead Concordia and also went 16-for-35 for 204 yards and one touchdown. Balz caught three passes for 70 yards and one touchdown. Ryan Coffey paced the Bulldog defense with nine tackles and one fumble recovery and Tait Sibbel added nine tackles.
Dakota Wesleyan is back at home next Saturday, Sept. 15, when it hosts Briar Cliff University at 1 p.m. at Joe Quintal Field.
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