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DWU rallies to beat Hastings 28-19

Dakota Wesleyan running back Francois Barnaud breaks a tackle from Hastings linebacker Erik Wylie during the third quarter Saturday at Joe Quintal Field.

At times, Dakota Wesleyan head coach Ross Cimpl said his team played good football. Then there were times that left the second-year head coach scratching his head.

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Still the Tigers perse-vered Saturday, earning their second Great Plains Athletic Conference win by defeating Hastings College 28-19 at the conclusion of Blue and White Days at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell.

“Anytime you can win a game in this conference, it’s a huge benefit for you,” Cimpl said. “At times, we played really well, but then at times we got complacent and didn’t really play to our potential. But overall it is always good to win on homecoming.”

Among the bright spots for the Tigers was running back Francois Barnaud, who recorded a career-high 249 rushing yards Saturday. His performance was highlighted by 70-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

“We were running bubble on the backside, with run on the front side and Jon could call either one,” Barnaud said of his big run. “We spread them out and eve-rything was wide open. Our offensive line was wide open and I didn’t have to do much.”

Barnaud’s score gave DWU a 26-13 lead and command of the game, but just a quarter earlier things were not so rosy for the Tigers, who trailed 13-6 at halftime. Wesleyan (2-2, 2-1 GPAC) scored the first points of the game on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Bane to Arthur Brown, but the Tiger offense went cold and Hastings began to heat up.

The Broncos (1-3, 0-3 GPAC) picked apart the DWU defense with their passing game in the second quarter, culminating in a 9-yard touchdown pass from quarterback AJ Palazzolo to Nate Arlt.

Palazzolo finished the day with a more than respectable 334 yards through the air and two touchdowns. His main target, Arlt, hauled in 11 passes for 127 yards and one touchdown.

“We saw some holes in the zone,” Hastings head coach Tony Harper said. “Their safeties were down in the middle and their linebackers were in the holes. They were bringing a lot of pressure, and we had to make our comple-tions and that is what happened in the second quarter.”

Hastings added six more points with field goals from kicker Owain Hickey, who booted a 53-yarder which ap-peared to be heading wide right, but hooked back left to creep inside the poll. He also connected on a 44-yarder.

While the Broncos’ field-goal unit was hitting their mark, the Wesleyan sput-tered. DWU kicker Dan Porter had one field goal missed and two blocked extra points.

“We have a new snapper,” Cimpl said, adding starter Spence Bloch was out of this week’s lineup. “We haven’t had a lot of time to get that comfort level. They have a lot of speed off the edge and they did a great job of getting to our kicker.”

The Tigers found their way in the second half, recording 20 straight points to wrestle the lead away from Hastings. DWU wide receiver Anthony Muilenburg scored two touch-downs in the third quarter to give the Tigers the lead. The first was a fumble recovery in the end zone, which Muilenburg fell on after Barnaud coughed up just a few yards shy of the end zone. Muilenburg’s second touchdown was an 11-yard reception, which gave the Tigers, who were down 13-12 before the catch, an 18-13 lead.

The senior receiver fin-ished with five catches and 40 yards. Hastings allowed Bane, a fourth-year starter for the Tigers, to throw for just 139 yards.

“DWU came out and made plays when they had to and that was the difference in the game,” Harper said. “Bane, Muilenburg and Barnaud came out and made plays and we didn’t and that is why they won.”

Wesleyan travels to Madison Saturday to face rival Dakota State, while Hastings hosts Briar Cliff Saturday.