DWU can't complete comeback bid at Concordia
SEWARD, Neb.--The Dakota Wesleyan University football coaching staff has been adamant throughout the season that the starting quarterback job firmly belonged to Shaye Slaughter.
SEWARD, Neb.-The Dakota Wesleyan University football coaching staff has been adamant throughout the season that the starting quarterback job firmly belonged to Shaye Slaughter.
Slaughter started the first five games of the season, but after suffering an injury, it was decided late in the week that true freshman Alex Pohlen was going to start in Saturday's Great Plains Athletic Conference game at Concordia University.
Pohlen was accurate all afternoon, avoiding mistakes and eventually brought the Tigers within striking distance late in the game. Trailing by five with less than five minutes to play, however, Pohlen was intercepted twice, including a game-clinching pick with 1:15 to play as Concordia handed DWU a 14-9 loss.
"I thought the last interception wasn't ideal, but Alex is a competitor," DWU head coach Ross Cimpl said. "He's trying to make a play and he's trying to put us in a position to win a football game. It's his first college football game and if he had one or two plays that weren't great, overall I would summarize that as a pretty good day."
While Pohlen played mistake-free throughout most of the game, the DWU offense struggled to finish drives. The Tigers crossed midfield eight times during the game, but only came away with three points.
DWU had been kept out of the end zone until Pohlen made a highlight-reel throw on the run to former Mitchell star Spencer Neugebauer-who caught 12 passes for 227 yards in the game-for an 84-yard touchdown with 4:48 to play.
"We have to be able to put points on the board at a time when we're inside the 10-yard line and the snap goes over our head and just little things like that," Cimpl said. "Everything matters, and defensively, we gave up a touchdown on the first play of the game on a reverse flea-flicker type of deal. Everything matters."
The Tigers surrendered a touchdown on its first defensive play as Andrew Perea found tight end Garrett Schardt for an 82-yard score. Concordia would add another score later in the first quarter on a 31-yard run by Ryan Durdon, but the defense would buckle down after that, allowing a season-low 330 yards of total offense.
The DWU defense came up with timely stops when Concordia appeared to be on the verge of shutting the door. A fake punt in the fourth quarter put the Bulldogs at the 30, but the Tigers held and set up the Pohlen touchdown pass.
A stop on the ensuing position gave DWU the ball in a position to take the lead, but Pohlen's first down pass was tipped and intercepted. Once again the Tiger defense got a stop, though, giving the offense the ball with a little more than two minutes to play.
"We had a shot at the end of the game and that's biggest thing," Cimpl said. "...We had to get some stops in critical situations and I'm really proud of our guys for doing that. After we give up the first interception, it's very easy to quit and let them go down and score."
A quartet of Pohlen completions moved the ball to the Concordia 44, but a deep pass down the sideline was overthrown and intercepted to end the game.
Pohlen finished the game 31 of 49 passing for 322 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions for Dakota Wesleyan (1-5, 0-4 GPAC), which hosts Dordt on Saturday.
Perea was 12-for-22 passing for 215 yards and a touchdown for Concordia (3-2, 1-2 GPAC), which travels to Briar Cliff on Saturday.
C: Garrett Schardt 82 pass from Andrew Perea (Alan Sharp kick)
C: Ryan Durdon 31 run (Sharp kick)
DW: Noah Vettrus 34 field goal
DW: Spencer Neugebauer 84 pass from Alex Pohlen (Run failed)
RUSHING (ATT-YDS): D: Luke Loudenburg 19-58, Alex Pohlen 5-(-9); C: Ryan Durdon 28-85, Lane Castaneda 1-20, Andrew Perea 15-18, Robert Ferguson 1-0, Korrell Koehlmoos 1-(-1), Matt Petracek 1-(-7).
PASSING (C-A-INT-YDS): D: Pohlen 31-49-2-322, Sam Naasz 1-1-0-(-2); C: Perea 12-22-0-215.
RECEIVING (REC-YDS): D: Spencer Neugebauer 12-227, Jonny Withrow 6-40, Kyreice Miller 3-20, Daniel Libolt 5-17, Loudenburg 5-15; C: Garrett Schardt 2-105, Vincent Beasley 4-71, Koehlmoos 3-24, Arthur Anderson 1-7, Durdon 1-6, Castaneda 1-2.