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Barnaud, Tigers run past NWU

Dakota Wesleyan University wide receiver Anthony Muilenburg catches a pass for a first down during the fourth quarter of a Great Plains Athletic Conference match up against Nebraska Wesleyan Saturday at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell.

Dakota Wesleyan University running back Francois Barnaud topped the 200-yard mark for the fourth time this season en route to helping the Tigers beat Great Plains Athletic Conference foe Nebraska Wesleyan 31-17 Saturday at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell.

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During his star performance, Barnaud made a one-handed catch and shed NWU tacklers, breaking away for 75 yards.

“When you have a guy like that with some of the stats and things he can do, that is critical,” DWU football coach Ross Cimpl said. “Being able to run the football is what we want to do. But when you have a guy like that back there that can get in the open field and make a guy miss, that makes everyone want to work a little bit harder, and it makes everyone look a little better.”

The junior Belle Fourche native carried the ball 27 times for 254 yards and two touchdowns and leads the GPAC with 1,631 rushing yards.

DWU (6-3, 5-2 GPAC) dominated the first half of play Saturday with sound special teams and defense. After Barnaud scored the first touchdown on a 21-yard run, DWU’s Tanner Munk blocked a Kelby Vandenberg punt, which was picked up by Trevor Schroeder and returned for a touchdown with just over a minute to go in the first quarter.

Schroeder continued to have a knack for finding the loose ball in the second quarter. After a stalled drive by the DWU offense, Dan Porter kicked a 42-yard punt that was muffed by NWU returner Seth Wardyn, leaving Schroeder to recover the ball.

The Tigers capitalized off the Canistota native’s recovery with a field goal from Porter to take a 17-0 lead.

“We had too many mistakes today, especially in the kicking game,” NWU football coach Brian Keller said. “NWU has been known for having good special teams, but today we gave up three scores off it. DWU did a great job of scoring on us and stopping our offense.”

The DWU defense led by defensive back Matt McManus and linebackers Anthony Cervantes and Brady Bonte held the Prairie Wolves (4-4, 4-3 GPAC) to just three points in the first half. McManus, a Fulton native, had a game-high nine tackles, while Cervantes had seven and Bonte added six.

The Tiger defense held NWU running back Dustin Bryant to 90 yards on 17 carries.

Down 31-10 in the third quarter, the Prairie Wolves decided to open up the playbook and pass the ball more. NWU quarterback Tyler Francis completed 20 of 39 passes for 206 yards and a touchdown.

The junior quarterback’s lone touchdown pass came in the fourth quarter when he hit wide receiver Connor Zumpfe in the back of the end zone.

“This was a big win for us,” Bonte said. “I have to give full credit to our defensive line today. Our coaches challenged them to get pressure and they came out and responded well. The really owned it.”

DWU senior quarterback Jon Bane completed 16 of 30 passes for 155 yards. Wide receiver Anthony Muilenburg was his main target, hauling in eight passes for 65 yards.

The Tigers will be home for the second straight week as they host Concordia in their final home game of the season at 1 p.m. Saturday at Joe Quintal Field.