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DWU falls to No. 1 Morningside 63-27

DWU's Mitch Breen tackled by Morningside's Billy Awtry in a 63-27 Tiger loss Saturday at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell. (Nick McCutcheon/Republic)

Dakota Wesleyan University found out why Morningside College is ranked No. 1 in a 63-27 loss to the Mustangs Saturday at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell.

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Big plays by the Mustangs told the story as DWU’s three-game winning streak came to an end, dropping the Tigers to 4-3 (3-2 GPAC) on the season.

“The advantage was they didn’t make any mistakes,” DWU coach Ross Cimpl said about Morningside. “They are a championship caliber team and they don’t make the mistakes that hurt them.”

The balanced attack of Morningside (6-0, 5-0 GPAC) created problems for the Tiger defense all game, rolling up 588 yards in the Great Plains Athletic Conference win.

Mustang quarterback Ryan Kasdorf was 24-of-32 passing for 371 yards and six touchdowns. Kasdorf added a touchdown on the ground.

Kasdorf’s go-to receiver was Devin Thomas, who caught seven passes for 183 yards and two scores, highlighted by a 69-yard touchdown grab in the second quarter. Joel McCabe and Kyle Schuck each added two touchdown catches.

Morningside took control early. Mustang running back Tyler Kazan took a handoff on a fake reverse and waltzed into the end zone from 51 yards out just four minutes into the game. Kasdorf found McCabe three minutes later for a 15-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead.

After Anthony Muilenburg put the Tigers on the board on a 28-yard touchdown reception to pull his team within eight, Kasdorf found McCabe again for a nine-yard score to put the Mustangs back up by 15.

Morningside put the exclamation point on its first half with a blocked punt recovered by Luke Gibbs for a touchdown. Morningside went into the locker room with a 34-13 lead.

The score would get no closer in the second half as the Mustangs piled on 28 more points.

“We just wanted to try and contain the run game and we were able to do that,” Morningside coach Steve Ryan said. “It was an excellent test for us with the weapons DWU has. We haven’t seen receivers like that in awhile.”

The DWU offense was able to move the ball steadily, but failed to finish off a number of drives.

Francois Barnaud, the NAIA’s leading rusher, left the game early after aggravating an injury to his ribs suffered against Doane College last week. Barnaud finished with five carries for 14 yards.

“We were hoping that it would loosen up for him, but it never did,” Cimpl said about Barnaud’s injury. “That throws a huge wrench into things when you have the best back in the country sitting on the sidelines.”

The DWU running game averaged less than two-and-a-half yards per carry as a team with Barnaud sidelined. Xavier Armijo shouldered the load for DWU, carrying the ball 21 times for 52 yards.

With the Tigers behind by multiple possessions most of the day, DWU turned to quarterback Jon Bane and his receivers. Bane threw the ball 47 times, completing 25 passes for 278 yards and three touchdowns.

Arthur Brown led the DWU receiving corps with seven catches for 138 yards and caught a 16-yard touchdown in the final minute of the fourth quarter.

“Mentally we weren’t focused the whole time with all of the penalties,” Brown said.

The Tigers committed 12 penalties for 124 yards including an illegal block that negated a touchdown reception for Brown in the first half.

DWU All-American wide receiver Muilenburg found himself in double coverage for much of the day, but was able to escape to catch eight passes for 80 yards and one touchdown.

A bright spot for the Tiger defense was the emergence of freshman cornerback Trevin Island, who racked up nine total tackles, three of them for a loss and broke up two passes.

“He’s really getting a feel for the college game and that is something we’re going to need him to continue to do,” Cimpl said.

The Tigers will try to get back on track against Midland University at 4 p.m. Saturday in Fremont, Neb.

Morningside …….. 14 20 7 21 -- 63

Dakota Wesleyan 0 13 7 7 -- 27

First Quarter

MOR: Tyler Kavan 51 run (Decker, Zach kick)

MOR: Joel McCabe 15 yd pass from Ryan Kasdorf (Zach Decker kick)

Second Quarter

DWU: Anthony Muilenburg, 28 pass from Jon Bane (Dan Porter kick failed)

MOR: McCabe 9 pass from Kasdorf (Decker kick)

MOR: Devin Thomas 69 pass from Kasdorf (Decker kick failed)

MOR: Luke Gibbs blocked punt return (Decker kick)

DWU: Bane 1 run (Porter kick)

Third Quarter

MOR: Kasdorf 4 run (Decker kick)

DWU: Cody Duerksen 5 pass from Bane (Porter kick)

Fourth Quarter

MOR: Kyle Schuck 7 pass from Kasdorf (Decker kick)

MOR: Thomas fumble recovery (Decker kick)

MOR: Schuck 33 pass from Kasdorf (Decker kick)

DWU: Arthur Brown 16 pass from Bane (Porter kick)

RUSHING: DWU: Xavier Armijo 21-52; Francois Barnaud 5-14; Arthur Brown 1-5; Jon Bane 3-0; Morningside: Jon Halverson 24-111; Tyler Kavan 4-57; Ryan Kasdorf 9-27; Josh Gaedke 7-19; Ausitn Klett 1-3.

PASSING: DWU: Bane 25-47-1-278; Morningside: Kasdorf 24-32-0-371.

RECEIVING: Anthony Muilenburg 8-80; Arthur Brown 7-138; Barnaud 2-18; Dustin Livingston 2-11; Michael Brown 1-7; Mitch Breen 1-6; Eric Lundberg 1-6; Cody Duerksen 1-5; Alex Roberston 1-4; Armijo 1-3; Morningside: Joel McCabe 8-44; Devin Thomas 7-183; Kyle Schuck 6-99; Klett 2-33; Gaedke 1-12.

DEFENSIVE LEADERS: DWU: Jeff Massen 11 tackles, half sack; Sam Kiger 10 tackles; Trevin Island 9 tackles; Brady Bonte eight tackles, one sack; Morningside: Logan Gibbs 12 tackles; Zac Schleuger 10 tackles; Bret Doorenbos eight tackles, one sack.