MITCHELL, S.D. – The Dakota Wesleyan University football team travels to Hastings, Neb., Saturday for a battle of undefeated teams. The Tigers – who are 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference – take on 3-0 Hastings College at 1 p.m. Saturday at Lloyd Wilson Field in Hastings, Neb.
A win would go a long way for either team in terms of league standings and rankings within the NAIA. Dakota Wesleyan is ranked 22nd in the nation while the Broncos received votes in the latest poll, which was released Monday afternoon. The conference matchup of two ranked teams has drawn national attention, and it was voted the NAIA’s game of the week by fans from around the NAIA.
The Tigers enter Saturday’s game coming off a bye week. DWU last took the field Saturday, Sept. 15, when it beat Briar Cliff University 24-13 at Joe Quintal Field. The Chargers took a 13-3 lead early in the second quarter before the DWU offense settled down and took control. The Tigers got within three thanks to a five-yard run by Josh Endres, and took the lead for good on a quarterback keeper by sophomore Joey Olson. Olson got the first start of his collegiate career against the Chargers, and threw for 172 yards and one touchdown and ran for a second touchdown.
The Broncos are also coming off a win against Briar Cliff. Hastings beat BCU 34-24 Sept. 22 at the DakotaDome in Vermillion, S.D. Hastings led 17-3 at halftime before giving up 21 second-half points, but the Broncos held on for the win.
Dakota Wesleyan enters Saturday’s game evenly matched with the Broncos in several categories. The Tigers are fifth in the league in scoring offense (30) and Hastings is sixth (29.3); Hastings is third in total offense (433.7) and DWU is fourth (408) and DWU is third in scoring defense (16.7) while Hastings is fifth (19). The Tiger defense, however, has the upper hand in every category. DWU is fourth in the GPAC in total defense (311) while Hastings is eighth (382.7). DWU is third in rushing defense, giving up just 81 yards per game on the ground, while Hastings is sixth in the league at 130.7 yards. DWU is ranked seventh in the GPAC in pass defense (230), but the Broncos are 10th (252).
Individually, senior running back Josh Endres leads the league – and the NAIA – in rushing per game. He averages 192.3 yards per game, and has 577 rushing yards in just three games played this season. He also leads the league in scoring with an average 12 points per game. Hastings running back Keenen Ballage is third with 103.3 rushing yards per game. Hastings and DWU are second and third in the league, respectively, when it comes to quarterbacks. Bronco senior John Dostal is second in the league in pass offense (255.7) and has 767 passing yards through three games. Tiger junior Jon Bane is third with 225 yards per game and has 450 total yards.
Sophomore Joey Olson got his first collegiate start against Briar Cliff on Sept. 15 and threw for 172 yards and a touchdown and ran for a second touchdown on a short quarterback keeper, but Bane is expected to start this week.
The Tigers head to Hastings looking for just their second win against the Broncos in Hastings. The last time DWU won against Hastings on the road was 2007. That year also marked the Tigers’ first win against Hastings in school history. When the two teams met last year, Dakota Wesleyan walked away with a 21-14 win at Joe Quintal Field. The Tigers scored 21 first-half points and gave up 14 second-half points to Hastings. The Broncos drove to the DWU 28-yard line late, but gave up the ball on downs and DWU ran out the clock to hold on for the win.
For fans that can’t make the trip to Hastings, all the action can be heard live locally at 105.9 FM or online at www.kmit.com.