MITCHELL, S.D. – In a game where neither team led by more than six points throughout the game, it all came down to some key defensive stands and a bad punt for the Dakota Wesleyan University football team.
After stopping Doane College on the one-yard line to start the fourth quarter, Dakota Wesleyan gave up a safety and a field goal and missed a field goal, but took advantage of a 5-yard punt by the Doane Tigers to set up a late score to hold on for a 28-24 win Saturday night at Joe Quintal Field.
Senior running back Josh Endres helped the Tigers’ winning effort and made history Saturday by becoming just the third player in DWU football history to run for more than 3,000 yards in a career. He finished with 124 rushing yards against Doane, putting him and 3,014 for his career.
With the win, Dakota Wesleyan improves to 5-2 overall and 4-2 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference. Doane, which is No. 20 in the NAIA, is now 4-3 overall and 3-3 in the conference. Dakota Wesleyan is now tied for third in the GPAC with No. 18 Northwestern College. The two teams meet next Saturday at Joe Quintal Field.
Doane led by a point, 22-21, heading into the fourth quarter, and drove down to DWU territory and had a first-and-goal on the Tiger 5-yard line. But the DWU defense held up and shut down two rushing attempts by Doane and forced an incomplete pass on fourth-and-goal to get the ball on its own 2-yard line. Doane tackled Endres in the end zone for a safety to go up 24-21 with 12:11 left in the game, and the Tigers were back in DWU territory after the ensuing Dakota Wesleyan punt, but Doane missed a 37-yard field goal to give the Tigers the ball on their own 20-yard line.
Dakota Wesleyan drove to the Doane 16-yard line, but Dan Porter missed a field goal with 4:09 left on the clock. Doane was unable to move the ball and chose to punt on fourth down, and Brett Eyer’s punt went just five yards to the Doane 24-yard line, which set Dakota Wesleyan up for a five-yard touchdown pass from Jon Bane to Arthur Brown to put the Tigers up 28-24 with 1:31 to play. Jeff Weander threw four incomplete passes for Doane to turn the ball over on downs, and DWU knelt the ball three times to try and run the clock out. Doane got the ball on its own 40-yard line with a few seconds on the clock, but Weander’s pass was picked off by Jeff Maassen to end the game.
The Doane Tigers got on the board first on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Weander to Jesse Ver Velde less than three minutes into the game, but the extra point was blocked for a 6-0 lead. Dakota Wesleyan took a one-point lead on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Bane to Derek Carlson on its next drive, and that’s where the score would stay until the middle of the second when Doane capped off a 92-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Weander to John Tatum to go up 13-7.
On the Tigers’ next drive, Endres threw a 68-yard pass to Michael Brown to set up a three-yard touchdown pass from Bane to Brown to put DWU back in front, 14-13. Doane took a 16-14 lead into halftime after hitting a 37-yard field goal with 50 seconds left in the half.
Dakota Wesleyan took a 21-16 lead early in the third quarter on a six-yard run by Endres, but Doane responded with a two-yard touchdown run by Alex Dose on its next drive to go up 22-21. Bane’s pass was intercepted on the Tigers’ ensuing possession, but Doane failed to capitalize and it stayed a one-point game heading into the final quarter.
Dakota Wesleyan finished with 370 yards of offense – 288 through the air and 82 on the ground, while Doane threw for 264 yards and ran for 109. Endres finished with 124 yards for Dakota Wesleyan. He is currently 137 yards away from the all-time rushing record of 3,151 yards. Endres also threw for 68 yards and caught four passes for 66 yards.
Bane went 18-for-28 for 220 yards and three touchdowns. Michael Brown caught five passes for 94 yards and a touchdown and Carlson finished with five catches for 86 yards and a touchdown. Arthur Brown also had a touchdown catch.
Defensively, Josh Thompson led the Tigers with nine tackles – including eight solo tackles – four pass breakups and two tackles for a loss. Mike Barnaud and Matt McManus also had nine tackles, and Maassen and Andrew DeVaney each had an interception. Maassen also had 2.5 tackles for a loss.
The Tigers are back at home Saturday, Oct. 27, when they host No. 18 Northwestern at 7 p.m. at Joe Quintal Field.