HAGEN: Endres has memorable game, run to end career for WesleyanFor a long time, the football field has been a comfortable place for Josh Endres.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
For a long time, the football field has been a comfortable place for Josh Endres.
In four years as Dakota Wesleyan University’s running back, the Ethan native set rushing records and cemented himself as one of the school’s all-time great ball carriers.
Despite his impressive career, Endres is not the type of person who revels in his accomplishments. He’s usually pretty quiet, a little shy and almost careful with the way he describes the way he plays the game. Besides a short-lived celebration after a touchdown run, Endres rarely lets his feelings show on the field.
Saturday, in a game against Midland, Endres played college football for the final time. Through 55 minutes, things were going as smoothly as they could for the senior. On his first carry of the day, he broke the school’s all-time career rushing record with a five-yard carry. Headed into the game, he needed four yards to hit the mark.
With the clock winding under two minutes, Endres and the Tigers held a one-touchdown lead. What else was there to do than hand the ball off and finish the season on a high note?
On first-and-10, Endres took a handoff up the middle, broke through a wall of defenders and realized he had lost the football. Midland recovered.
“It was terrible,” Endres said. “There was no way I wanted to end on that one.”
With his hands on his helmet and his heart in his stomach, Endres walked off the field dejected. He got multiple pats on the back, but he knew it could be the final carry of his outstanding college career.
It was no way for him to go out.
DWU’s defense took the field, and Endres had his head facing the ground, wondering if the nightmare that happened had actually just really happened.
On first down, Midland picked up a five-yard gain — the clock continued to tick.
Second down, DWU safety Dustin Bergmeier gave Endres his redemption. Another senior, Bergemier intercepted a pass, giving Wesleyan’s offense and Endres the ball one final time.
“Josh was pretty upset with himself,” Bergmeir said. “He thanked me after the game multiple times.”
Starting at its own 31-yard line, DWU called in a run play for Endres. Everyone in Joe Quintal Stadium knew who was getting the ball, including Midland defenders, who stopped the running back for a one-yard loss.
Again, it was no way for him to go out.
On second-and-11, Endres found a seam down the field and ran harder than he had all day. He saw the end zone and wasn’t going down before he got there. It was a 70-yard touchdown run that was the biggest highlight of the Tigers’ season.
“I really didn’t think I would get another chance to get another carry,” he said.
It wasn’t a spectacular run where he evaded several tacklers, and he didn’t make any jaw-dropping moves to break free. But the touchdown run was the final offensive play of the season for DWU, which defeated Midland 21-14 to finish 6-4 overall for the second straight year.
It was also another milestone for Endres, who needed 175 yards to lock down the school’s single-season rushing record. Before the final touchdown, Endres had 1,232 yards in his final season, 64 shy of the mark set by Fred Smith in 1989.
But the final run with 44 seconds left in the game gave him 1,302 yards this year and helped him finish his career with 3,329 yards, both records at Dakota Wesleyan.
After the play, Endres celebrated as if he scored the game-winning touchdown in the national championship game. His teammates joined in, too.
Endres, who was named the Great Plains Athletic Conference offensive player of the week Monday for one final time, calls himself blessed for his opportunities and credits his offensive lineman for his accomplishments. He said it’s going to be tough to move on from football, but added he’s happy he got one last touch.
“That last play, I’ll remember that for the rest of my life,” he said.
It was the picture-perfect way for him to leave the game.