MITCHELL, S.D. – The Dakota Wesleyan University football team suffered its worst loss of the season last weekend, but Saturday afternoon the Tigers are looking to put the past behind them and move on. Dakota Wesleyan, which lost 62-27 to top-ranked Morningside College on Oct. 19, tries for win No. 5 Saturday, Oct. 26, when it travels to Fremont, Neb., to take on Midland University.
The Tigers are currently 4-3 overall and 3-2 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference. Dakota Wesleyan, which was receiving votes in the NAIA prior to last week’s loss, had its three-game winning streak snapped by the Mustangs. Saturday’s game – which is the Warriors’ homecoming game – is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. in Fremont.
A win is at the front of DWU’s mind Saturday afternoon, but four records are on the verge of being broken heading into the Tigers’ eighth game of the year. Senior wide receiver Anthony Muilenburg is poised to set three records and junior running back Francois Barnaud is just shy of one record heading into Saturday’s game.
Muilenburg needs just three catches to become the school’s career receptions leader. He has 203 heading into Saturday, and the current record is 206, set from 2006-09 by Bubba Slaba. He is also 311 yards away from becoming the school’s career receiving leader. The record, currently held by Slaba, is 2,881 yards. Muilenburg is 311 yards away with 2,570 yards in three-plus seasons. Muilenburg, a Sioux Falls native, also needs 299 yards to become the single-season receiving leader. He has 747 yards which is just shy of the current record of 1,046 yards, set in 2008 by Slaba.
Barnaud is also looking to take over as a record holder this weekend. He needs 182 yards to tie the school’s single-season rushing record, set last season by Josh Endres. Endres set the record of 1,302 yards in the final game of his college career last season – also against Midland – and Barnaud enters Saturday’s game with 1,120 yards through seven games played.
In order for records to be set Saturday, the DWU offense needs to push last week’s loss aside and get back to doing what it does best. The Tigers threw the ball for 278 yards, but ran for just 70 total yards against Morningside. Dakota Wesleyan, which averages nearly 200 yards per game on the ground, is looking for a more balanced offense against the Warriors. Helping the DWU offense this weekend will be the fact that Midland is ninth in the GPAC in rushing defense and is giving up nearly 240 yards per game on the ground. The Warriors are fourth in the league in pass defense, giving up 202 yards per game.
Barnaud, who left the Morningside game early due to injury, looks to lead the rushing attack against Midland. He is second in the NAIA in rushing yards per game (160). Xavier Armijo was the Tigers’ leading rusher against the Mustangs with 52 yards. Quarterback Jon Bane is second in the league in passing (245.3) and third in total offense (252.6), and Muilenburg is sixth in the NAIA in receiving yards per game (106.7) and 12th in scoring per game (9.7.)
Quarterback Mike Karls leads the Warriors’ offense. He averages 201.5 passing yards per game along with 55.8 rushing yards per game and he is fourth in the league in passing. Alex Cornist also averages 65.3 yards per game. Nathan Schluter is the Warriors’ leading receiver (51.2), but three other receivers also average right around 35 yards per game.
The Midland secondary will be looking to pick off Bane and keep the ball out of DWU’s receiver’s hands. Dalton Jenkins is second in the nation in total interceptions (5) and interceptions per game (0.8). Mason Gegzna leads the defense with 41 tackles and Ethan Renner has 6.5 tackles for a loss. Renner also does the punting for the team, and Anthony Wood leads the NAIA with a perfect point-after percentage (17-for-17).
Dakota Wesleyan is sixth in the GPAC in both rush defense (149.7) and pass defense (217.6). The Tigers are led by Brady Bonte, who has 61 tackles and is 13th in the NAIA with 13 tackles for a loss. Tanner Munk has a team-high 11 pass breakups and he and Matt McManus each have 41 tackles.