A win for the seniors: DWU tops Briar Cliff on senior day for second win of the year
Dakota Wesleyan University made it a senior day to remember.
For a Saturday afternoon, the Tigers put it all together. A defense that has struggled to string together stops nearly pitched a shutout. And the offense turned opportune field position through the game into its second-most points of the season in a 26-7 win over Briar Cliff (Iowa) at Joe Quintal Field.
“It feels really good getting the win for the seniors,” DWU quarterback Zachary Lester said. “Big time coming out here and playing our butts off.”
DWU (2-5) scored the first 26 points, as it forced three turnovers and outgained the Chargers, 294-87. Paired with a couple of poor Briar Cliff (1-5) punts into the wind, the Tigers scored on their first four drives of the game.
Mitchell native Spencer Neugebauer, who had 61 rushing yards and 41 receiving yards, and Emery native Jamin Arend sandwiched touchdown runs around a pair of Tate Gale field goals. DWU failed to capitalize on starting from Briar Cliff’s 24-yard line and a 14-play, 95-yard drive stalled at the 4, despite a leaping penalty on a blocked field goal extending the drive inside the red zone.
Still, DWU led 20-0 at the half and would extend its lead to 26-0 when Neugebauer caught a 3-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. Lester completed 14 of 28 passes for 133 yards. Arend added a career-high 98 rushing yards and four receptions for a team-high 48 yards.
“I just got to thank all the guys up front,” Arend said. “They move the guys. They open it up for me. It’s very easy work when they’re moving guys, so I got to put all the thanks in them.”
As the offense ran for 161 yards and took advantage of the short routes Briar Cliff conceded, DWU’s defense held the Chargers to 1.9 yards per play. Cayden Mitchell threw interceptions to Hayden Schmidt and Menno native Trey Bohlmann on screen plays during a 4-for-16 performance.
It was the few times Briar Cliff tried to pass against DWU early. King Waller ran it 18 times, though was held to 46 yards. Josh Garry recovered a fumble and Dominick Warmbein recorded two sacks to highlight DWU’s tough run defense, which produced seven tackles for loss.
“Defensively, those guys did a great job,” DWU coach Ross Cimpl said. “I think it starts with the defensive line, with those guys getting movement. Warmbein the last couple of weeks has become a force to be reckoned with on the inside. … Having (Tziah Owens) back doesn’t hurt.”
Briar Cliff’s only touchdown came in the fourth quarter when it started from DWU’s 18-yard line due to Gale’s 15-yard punt into the wind. Mitchell connected with Kobe Johnson on the next play, but the Chargers didn’t sniff the red zone again.
Behind improved offensive line play, DWU ran out the clock for its second win of the year.
“That was a very big win,” said Tziah Owens, who had a team-high seven tackles after missing the previous two games. “We struggled to get one throughout these couple weeks. I keep telling the guys, keep motivating, keep going and that’s what we did. … We just had to go to work and that’s what we did.”
DWU plays Jamestown (N.D.) at 1 p.m. on Nov. 14 in Bismarck, North Dakota.