ORANGE CITY, IOWA – Frequently, in big-game situations, coaches speak about intangibles.
Those facets that are unable to be physically grasped … a lot like a southern wind rolling across Northwestern College’s De Valois Family Stadium Saturday, Nov. 16.
Trailing the host and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ No. 5-ranked Red Raiders 13-10 at halftime after a roly-poly first half, the top-ranked and eight-time defending Great Plains Athletic Conference champion Mustangs took that literal breath of fresh air and ran with it. Head coach Steve Ryan‘s team exploded to the tune of 20 third period points to give themselves a 17-point lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“Early on, it took some time (for us) to get used to the conditions,” defensive coordinator Casey Jacobsen noted. “We told our guys, at halftime, that we need to lock things down (against Northwestern’s offense) as they would have the wind in their face. We made a few adjustments along with that, and our offense got going and started banging away (at Northwestern’s defense).”
One hundred seven-six yards, two touchdowns, and two field goals later, the tide had turned. Taking a 30-13 lead into the final 15 minutes, Mside’s offense added another scoring march, and the defense dug in against a pair of NWC scoring drives, which led the scoreboard to read 37-27 at game’s end.
As has been the case throughout the 10-0 overall and 9-0 conference regular-season roll for the defending national champions, stars were plentiful.
On the defensive side, senior defensive back Klayton Nordeen (Alliance, Neb.) registered 11 tackles, picked off an opposing pass attempt and broke up another home team aerial effort; senior linebacker Jacob Katzer (Baldwin City, Kan.) wound up with nine tackles, an interception, and a pass break-up; and linebackers Chase Nelson (Beatrice, Neb.) and Joel Katzer (Baldwin City, Kan.), two more Class of 2020 team members, tallied seven tackles apiece. Junior defensive back Steven Evans (Sunrise, Fla.) also gathered in an interception; junior defensive lineman Niklas Gustav (Hamburg, Germany) recovered a fumble; and junior defensive lineman David Rios (Sioux Falls, S.D.) registered a sack to continue the defensive accolades.
It was more of the same on offense. Junior running back Arnijae “AP” Ponder (Griffin, Ga.) led the way with 28 carries for 238 yards and a touchdown; sophomore quarterback Joe Dolincheck (Bellevue, Neb.) ran his 200-yards-or-more contest streak to 10 in a row, going 12-of-29 for 215 yards and three touchdowns while not being sacked or intercepted; and the receiving trio of sophomore Austin Johnson (Sioux Falls, S.D.), junior Reid Jurgensmeier (Wahoo, Neb.) and senior Bo Els (Erie, Colo.) each hauled in two-or-more catches with Johnson topping the charts with five catches for 99 yards and two touchdowns. Freshman placekicker Chase Carter (Knoxville, Iowa) had a massive afternoon, hitting on all three of his field-goal attempts and going four-for-four in extra points to contribute 13 points while averaging over 60 yards per kickoff and forcing five touchbacks.