Just out of reach
Andrew Hawley ruined a homecoming that was bent on revenge.
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound senior from Lincoln, Neb., returned an interception 61 yards for a touchdown in helping Midland University (Neb.) down No. 21-ranked Dakota Wesleyan University 21-19 in Great Plains Athletic Conference football action Saturday at Joe Quintal Field.
"I don't know what it is about these homecoming games," DWU coach Brad Pole said, also referring to last year's loss to Midland (3-3) for homecoming. "They upset us two years in a row."
Clinging to a 17-14 lead midway through the fourth quarter, DWU freshman quarterback Jon Bane floated a pass downfield on third-and-19 from the Tigers' own 40-yard line.
Hawley stepped in front of a DWU receiver and made the interception, running down the right sideline and avoiding tacklers before scoring to put Midland ahead 21-17 with six minutes remaining in the game.
"I saw the quarterback put a little too much loft on it, so I broke on it," Hawley said. "It was a perfect throw to me."
Pole credited Midland's defense for making the timely play.
"They made a big play that put them ahead," Pole said. "It was a costly pick. It was thrown to the inside (of the receiver) and it was supposed to be thrown to the outside. It was just a mistake on the throw."
DWU, which led 17-7 after a Leif Evers 38-yard field goal early in the fourth, drove down the field and had two third-down conversions before Midland's defense held firm on a fourth-and-1 at the Warriors' 1-yard line with 1 minute, 9 seconds on the clock. Tigers running back Josh Endres, who finished with 100 yards on 28 carries, was stuffed on the final play of the drive.
"We had the play, (but) we botched up the formation. It didn't have a chance," Pole said. "I tried to get a timeout, but they didn't give it to me. Those things happen in a game. It shouldn't happen in those situations, but it did and it cost us."
DWU did force a safety with 14 seconds left and got the ball back on its own 42-yard line with nine seconds to go. However, multiple false-start penalties plagued any chance of a heroic ending for the Tigers, who suffered their first loss of the season after a 3-0 start.
"We had a great thing going, and we still do. It's a tough thing to chew now," Pole said. "A loss like this to a team we needed to beat. We could have beaten them, should have beaten them, but we didn't."
After a scoreless first quarter, Midland quarterback Jesse Spangler capped off an eight-play, 74-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass to John Faulkner.
The Tigers responded with an 11-play, 66-yard drive that took 4:18 off the clock and ended with a 2-yard score from Endres, who added his second TD of the game -- this time from 5 yards out -- early in the second half after DWU's Jesse Holz recovered a Midland fumble. The scoring play put the Tigers up 14-7.
Dakota Wesleyan won the time of possession battle, holding the ball for more than 35 minutes of the game. The Tigers also held Midland to only one third-down conversion in 11 attempts. However, the Tigers were again hurt by penalties, committing 13 for 117 yards.
"This was a huge win for us," Hawley said. "We had a couple of tough losses that kind of crushed our spirits. We beat a really good team."
Bane finished 24 of 37 for 166 yards and receiver Justin Sydney caught 10 passes for 60 yards. Nate Ovenden, back from injury, finished with five catches for 43 yards.
Dane Carlson had a game-high 14 tackles and Holz added 11 for the Tigers, who play three of their next four games on the road including Saturday's tilt against Nebraska Wesleyan in Lincoln, set for 1 p.m.
M: Jesse Spangler 7 pass from John Faulkner (Aaron Chambers kick), 11:26
D: Josh Endres 2 run (Leif Evers kick), 7:05
D: Endres 5 run (Evers kick), 13:30
D: Evers 38 FG, 12:42
M: Nick Lakey 3 run (Treyton Buresh kick), 8:44
M: Andrew Hawley 61 interception return (Buresh kick), 6:00
D: Safety, 0:14
RUSHING: M, Derrick Middleton 16-45, Anthony White 12-41, David Weld 1-26, Khalid Waters 3-9, Jonath Mahoney 1-7, Lakey 2-4, Chris Carter 1-2, Faulkner 1-(-2); D, Endres 28-100, Raymond Blossom 11-24, Anthony Muilenberg 1-8, Justin Sydney 1-1, Jonathon Bane 3-(-5).
PASSING: M, Faulkner 15-28-1 159; Bane 24-37-1 166.
RECEIVING: Eddie Pertilla 6-90, Brad Walker 3-40, Pat Harrington 2-15, Darnell Grier 2-5, Spangler 1-7, Lake 1-2; Sydney 10-60, Nate Ovenden 5-43, Muilenberg 3-34, Kevin Bass 2-18, Blossom 2-(-5), Steve Bloch 1-16, Euedell Clayton 1-0.