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DWU has strong showing in 56-15 victory over Briar Cliff

DWU’s Eric Lundberg catches a two-yard touchdown pass at the end of the first half in the Tigers’ 56-15 win over Briar Cliff Saturday in Vermillion. (Aaron Saunders/Republic)

VERMILLION -- Dakota Wesleyan University head football coach Ross Cimpl told his defense to make plays before it took the field Saturday.

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The DWU defense responded, forcing five turnovers en route to a 56-15 victory over Great Plains Athletic Conference foe Briar Cliff University at the DakotaDome.

"This was a great win for us," Cimpl said. "It was a good way for us to bounce back after week one. The guys really wanted this one and it showed on the field. This is the first time our defense has really dictated what an offense can do."

Briar Cliff came out in a hurry-up offense, but the Wesleyan defense slowed things down with sure tackling and pass breakups.

The Tigers forced Briar Cliff into a three-and-out on its first drive and did not let the Chargers cross the 50-yard line through the first quarter.

The Chargers offense seemed to be within striking distance to earn their first points with just under eight minutes to go in the second quarter, but DWU cornerback Andrew DeVaney had other ideas. The sophomore picked off a pass that bounced off the hands of a Briar Cliff wide receiver and returned the ball 72-yards for a Tiger touchdown.

"We have some great coaching, and we have some great defensive leaders," DeVaney said. "We knew that we wanted to come out strong and finisher stronger. When I saw the ball come off his hands, I was thinking I better catch this."

Sophomore Brady Bonte also had an interception return for a touchdown, and senior safety Matt McManus and true freshman cornerback Trevin Island also had interceptions for the Tigers.

"We played really hard," DeVaney said. "We had a mindset today where we knew we were going to come out and make plays."

The Wesleyan offense, led by quarterback Jon Bane, wasted no time putting points on the board. The Tigers marched down the field and scored two touchdowns in the first quarter. Bane connected with wide receiver Anthony Muilenburg for a 30-yard touchdown pass for the first touchdown. The Tigers’ second touchdown came from Francois Barnaud, who capped off a six play, 45-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run.

The Tigers went on to add 29 more points in the first half to take a commanding 49-7 lead into halftime.

Barnaud finished with 189 rushing yards on 26 carries and three touchdowns, including a 63-yard touchdown run, which saw the junior break tackles before bouncing to the sideline to outrun the rest of the BCU defense.

"The offense played extremely well," Cimpl said. "They had to come out, operate at a high level and put points on the board, and I think we did that today. We sustained drives, finished drives and got touchdowns and that was huge for us."

The Tigers used Barnaud's effectiveness to their advantage. With every Barnaud carry, the BCU defense crept closer to the line of scrimmage, leaving DWU’s wide receivers open.

Bane finished with 342 passing yards and three touchdowns on 16 completions. Running back Arthur Brown finished with a team-high 106 receiving yards.

"We moved the ball pretty successfully down the field all game," Bane said. "They have to respect our run game with Francois Barnaud. You can't stop that guy with just five men in the box, and that is when we decided to take our chance and go over the top and it worked out good for us."

With the win, the Tigers are 1-1 overall and 1-0 in the GPAC. Wesleyan plays its third straight road game Saturday against Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa.

NOTES -- Briar Cliff quarterback Kevin Van Egdom left in the game in the fourth quarter with a leg injury.