MITCHELL, S.D. – Offense was in the spotlight Saturday afternoon at Joe Quintal Field for the Dakota Wesleyan University football team’s Blue and White Days game against Dordt College.
The two teams combined for 1,237 yards of total offense and 76 points in a game that saw 14 kickoffs to just two punts. The Tigers came out on top of the offensive battle with a 45-31 win to end their homecoming week and improve to 4-1 overall and 3-1 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference.
Dakota Wesleyan secured 399 of its 546 yards of total offense through the air, while the Defenders dominated the running game Saturday afternoon. Dordt – which had 691 yards of total offense – ran for 441 yards and threw for 250 more. Dakota Wesleyan ran for 147 yards – 136 of which came from senior running back Josh Endres.
The No. 25 Tigers recovered a Dordt fumble on the Defenders’ first drive of the game, but Dan Porter missed a 38-yard field goal attempt and the Defenders took advantage, driving down the field and scoring on a one-yard run by quarterback Bryce Rusler with 53 seconds left in the first quarter. The Tigers punted on their next possession, and Dordt marched to the DWU six-yard line and settled for a 22-yard field goal to go up 10-0 with 7:53 left in the first half.
DWU finally got on the board less than a minute later on a 53-yard touchdown pass from Jon Bane to Derek Carlson, and the duo hooked up again with 58 seconds left in the half – this time on a 22-yard touchdown pass – to put the Tigers up 14-10 heading into halftime.
Porter hit a 27-yard field goal early in the third quarter to make it a seven-point game, 17-10, but Dordt tied it up on an 11-yard touchdown run by Kyle Henricks. Carlson caught his third touchdown pass of the game – this one 73 yards – a few minutes later to make it 24-17, and then his fourth with 10 minutes left when Bane found him in the end zone from five yards out to put the Tigers up 31-17.
The Defenders answered with a 74-yard pass from Henricks to Erin Francis to make it 31-24, but after DWU punted on its next possession, freshman Brady Bonte recovered a Dordt fumble and ran it back 40 yards for a touchdown to put the Tigers up 38-24 with 3:34 left to play. The Defenders kept it a one-score game on a two-yard touchdown run by Henricks, but the Tigers put the game away when Endres scored on a 56-yard run with 1:41 left to play.
Bane went 21-for-34 for 399 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions Saturday afternoon. His nearly 400-yard performance comes a week after setting the school record for passing yards in a game with 457 against Hastings College. Carlson was on the receiving end of five of those passes – four of which were touchdowns. He had 163 receiving yards. Endres caught four passes for 97 yards and Mitch Breen had two catches for 56 yards. Endres also ran for 136 yards and a touchdown, and is just 113 yards away from becoming the third player in DWU football history to run for more than 3,000 yards in a career.
Bonte led the team with 19 tackles and his fumble recovery for a touchdown. Mike Barnaud added 17 tackles, Dustin Bergmeier finished with 11 and Craig Henglefelt added 10 tackles. Jeff Maassen also recovered a fumble and Josh Thompson had three pass breakups.
Trai Pickney led Dordt with 113 rushing yards. Rusler added 88 and Daniel Fennig finished with 87. Henricks threw for 250 yards and Francis had four catches for 99 yards. Vanoy Harris led the Dordt defense with 12 tackles.
Dakota Wesleyan is on the road Saturday, Oct. 13, when it travels to Sioux City, Iowa, to take on fourth-ranked Morningside College. The Tigers have back-to-back home night games Oct. 20 and 27 when they host Doane and Northwestern.