Carlson's 4 TD game lifts DWU over Dordt 45-31 on homecomingDerek Carlson is forcing his coaches to get him on the field offensively.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
Derek Carlson is forcing his coaches to get him on the field offensively.
The senior tight end caught four touchdowns in what he called the most memorable game of his life to help No. 25-ranked Dakota Wesleyan University beat Dordt College 45-31 Saturday afternoon at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell.
The Great Plains Athletic Conference and homecoming win lifted the Tigers to 4-1 on the season, but the victory was never a certainty until the final minute.
Carlson had touchdowns of 53, 22, 73 and 5 yards and finished with five catches for 163 yards, and it was the first four-touchdown performance of his career.
“Back in high school, I caught three,” the Sioux Falls Lincoln graduate said. “Today, the passes came right in the breadbasket and I did what could with them.”
In what was the final TD for Carlson, Tigers quarterback Jon Bane tossed a fourth-quarter floating pass in the back corner of the end zone on third-and-goal that seemed to give DWU a comfortable 31-17 lead with 10:21 to play.
But in the final 10 minutes, DWU and Dordt exchanged touchdowns twice, seesawing between a 7- and 14-point Tiger lead.
After the 5-yard TD, Dordt quarterback Kyle Henricks connected with Erin Francis for a 74-yard touchdown strike that pulled the Defenders within 31-24.
Then Dordt had a promising drive that died when Tigers linebacker Brady Bonte picked up a fumble and returned it 40 yards for a score, pushing the lead to 38-24. The touchdown was the first collegiate score for the true freshman from Garretson.
Dordt answered again with a five-play, 71-yard drive that was capped on a 2-yard touchdown on a quarterback sneak with 2:07 left to play. Henricks’ TD helped the Defenders pull within 38-31.
The Tigers sealed the game in their next possession on a gutsy call by Cimpl.
On fourth-and-2 from about midfield, Cimpl told the offense to stay out on the field in what ended up going for a 56-yard touchdown run by running back Josh Endres.
Instead of punting, Cimpl said he trusted his team’s offense more to close the game. The Tigers’ defense was struggling with shutting down Dordt’s rushing attack, and Endres received a pitch to the left to head sprinting down the sideline.
“I just said that we were going for it and I was going to lean on those guys,” said Cimpl, who credited offensive coordinator Zeke Prado with a nice play call.
Earlier in the game, the connection between Bane and Carlson helped the Tigers rally from a 10-point deficit. With 6:57 left to play in the first half and DWU’s offense getting noticeably frustrated, Bane fired to Carlson on a slant route down the middle of the field for a 53-yard TD strike. Soon after Dordt turned the ball over on downs, Bane hit Carlson on another slant with 58 seconds before halftime to help DWU take a 14-10 lead.
“We have to find ways to utilize him,” Cimpl said. “That’s a good situation to be in where there’s a guy that we have to get on the field because of all the production he’s had.”
Dordt tied the game at 17 about four minutes into the second half on a 10-play, 53-yard drive that was set up by an unsuccessful onside kick from DWU.
But Bane found Carlson streaking down the right sideline, hustling past two Dordt defenders for a 73-yard deep ball on third-and-17. Then the Tigers scored again — and again it was Bane to Carlson — on their next possession, and DWU fended off Dordt’s comeback attempt late in the fourth quarter.
Bane finished 21-of-34 passing for four touchdowns and 399 yards. Endres caught four passes for 97 yards, Arthur Brown had four catches for 20 yards and four other Tiger receivers had two catches apiece.
“Their passing game wasn’t a surprise, but it definitely showed that we have to get better in the secondary,” Dordt coach Greg Youngblood said. “Against a good offense, we struggled.”
Dakota Wesleyan’s defense struggled against Dordt’s triple-option offense early and often. The Defenders, who averaged 12.4 points coming into their game against DWU, rushed for 441 yards and had 691 yards of total offense.
Trai Pickney was Dordt’s top threat, rushing 11 times for 113 yards. Wide receiver Erin Francis had four catches for 99 yards and a TD, while Henricks had 12 rushes for 62 yards and two scores.
“We weren’t doing real well in our jobs and assignments as a team,” Bonte said.
Endres finished with 136 rushing yards on 19 carries, and he scored DWU’s only other offensive TD that didn’t involve Carlson and Bane.
The Tigers, who finished with 546 yards of total offense, play at Morningside next weekend. DWU plays at 2 p.m. in Sioux City, Iowa, in another GPAC game.
Dakota Wesleyan University 45, Dordt College 31
DOR: Rusler, Bryce 1 run (Dykstra, Barry kick)
DOR: Dykstra 22 yd field goal
DWU: Carlson, Derek 53 yd pass from Bane, Jon (Porter, Dan kick)
DWU: Carlson, Derek 22 yd pass from Bane, Jon (Porter, Dan kick)
DWU: Porter, Dan 27 yd field goal
DOR: Henricks, Kyle 11 yd run (Dykstra, Barry kick)
DWU: Carlson, Derek 73 yd pass from Bane, Jon (Porter, Dan kick)
DWU: Carlson, Derek 5 yd pass from Bane, Jon (Porter, Dan kick)
DOR: Francis, Erin 74 yd pass from Henricks, Kyle (Dykstra, Barry kick)
DWU: Bonte, Brady 40 yd fumble recovery (Porter, Dan kick)
DOR: Henricks, Kyle 2 yd run (Dykstra, Barry kick)
DWU: Endres, Josh 56 yd run (Porter, Dan kick)