Late scores by McManus, Duerksen lead DWU football team
Matt McManus appeared to be in the right place at the right time.
But the interception the Alexandria native returned 75 yards in Dakota Wesleyan University’s 24-13 Great Plains Athletic Conference win over Concordia Saturday at Mitchell’s Joe Quintal Field was much more than that.
McManus, a senior safety, made a pre-snap call that allowed him to intercept Bulldogs quarterback Von Miller with one minute left in the game and sealed the Tigers’ seventh win of the year.
“He made an adjustment on the field based on something he saw with their alignment and something they had been doing all game,” DWU head coach Ross Cimpl said. “Then he made an unbelievable play.”
The original defensive call had a cornerback responsible to cover the area the ball went, but McManus knew Concordia had been running short crossing routes early in the game and getting decent chunks of yardage to move the chains.
“Basically, he knew that route was coming, and being from the safety spot he was lined up inside more than the corner was,” Cimpl said. “He kind of just decided to take it and then he beat the guy to the spot of where he was supposed to go. That’s how it all turned out, whereas our corner would have been chasing the receiver from behind.”
The ball fell in McManus’ lap, and he ran 75 yards down the sideline in front of the Tigers’ bench to give his team its final 11-point advantage. The game and victory was the final one at Joe Quintal for McManus and the other 11 seniors on DWU’s squad. Next week, the Tigers (7-3, 6-2 GPAC) finish their regular season at Dordt, which is winless in conference play this season.
“It’s not just about us seniors,” said McManus, who noted he got good blocking from Jared Van Winkle on the long TD run. “Seven wins for the first time in how long? Hopefully we’ll finish out with eight wins.”
This is the first time since 2008 Dakota Wesleyan recorded a seven-win season in football and is the fifth time in program history it reached the mark. With a likely win over Dordt (2-8, 0-8 GPAC) next weekend, the Tigers would record eight wins for the first time since 1976.
To get its seventh win, DWU had to endure a breezy day. The Tigers struggled in the passing game, but got two touchdowns from senior quarterback Jon Bane. The first TD was on the Tigers’ opening drive of the game, ending on an 11-yard bullet to Arthur Brown. The other touchdown was the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter with 8:30 left in the game.
Bane, who threw for 120 yards, hit Cody Duerksen, a senior tight end from Parker, wide open in the middle of the end zone.
No defender was within five yards of him.
“I’m just glad Jon saw me,” Duerksen said. “No better way to go out. It felt like it was meant to be.”
The Tigers — who got a game-high 104 rushing yards from Francois Barnaud — trailed 10-7 at halftime and 13-10 entering the fourth quarter.
But DWU’s offense was able to rally late because its defense came up with timely stops, the biggest was undoubtedly McManus’ interception. It was his third of the season, which leads the team, and was his first career collegiate touchdown.
NOTES: Tigers kicker/punter Dan Porter had a 76-yard punt with the wind that was downed at Concordia’s 1-yard line. Porter kicked a 24-yard field goal in the third quarter that tied the game at 10. … Tigers linebacker Brady Bonte forced one of DWU’s four turnovers, getting a strip-sack-fumble recovery on Concordia’s first offensive possession in the second half.
DWU: Arthur Brown 11 pass from Jon Bane (Dan Porter kick)
CON: Chavarius Curry-Felix 15 pass from Von Thomas (Adam Meirose kick)
CON: Meirose 28 field goal
DWU: Porter 24 field goal
CON: Meirose 20 field goal
DWU: Cody Duerksen 15 pass from Bane (Porter kick)
DWU: Matt McManus 75 interception return (Porter kick)
Passing: DWU—Jon Bane 13-31-0-120; CON—Von Thomas 19-31-2-159. Rushing: DWU—Francois Barnaud 30-104; Jon Bane 2-19; Mitch Breen 1-2; Arthur Brown 1-3; Total—34-129. CON—Bryce Collins 16-38; Von Thomas 14-38; Chavarius Curry-Felix 2-4; Trey Barnes 4-1; Total—37-38. Receiving: DWU— Anthony Muilenburg 4-34; Arthur Brown 2-29; Alex Robertson 2-23; Cody Duerksen 2-22; Francois Barnaud 1-7; Mitch Breen 1-4; Kodi Larson 1-1; Total—13-120. CON— Chavarius Curry-Felix 8-61; Brian Serra 4-47; Josh Slechta 3-19; Derek Klaus 2-10; Bryce Collins 1-14; Jerad Leifeld 1-8; Totals Chavarius Curry-Felix 19-159. Defensive: DWU— Tanner Munk 8 tackles; Cody Bonte 7.5 tackles, interception; Jeff Maassen 7.5 tackles, Matt McManus interception; Brady Bonte, forced fumble, fumble recovery, sack.