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DWU’s struggles reiterated in 69-point loss

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Dakota Wesleyan University's Anthony De La Torre (7) throws a pass to Luke Loudenburg during a Great Plains Athletic Conference game against Morningside on Saturday at Joe Quintal Field. (Jeremy Karll / Republic)

The film from Saturday’s 69-0 loss to Morningside (Iowa) won’t be fun for Dakota Wesleyan University to watch.

In a season of large defeats and a seven-game losing streak, this was the worst. The Tigers (1-8, 0-7 GPAC) haven’t suffered a 69-point loss since at least 2004, which is as far back as the NAIA database goes.

“Unfortunately, it’s probably not a film that guys want to watch, but it’s critical that we see it,” DWU coach Ross Cimpl said. “We have to see it so we can learn from it.”

The No. 1 Mustangs gave them plenty to study, but even as they look poised to win another national championship, DWU’s struggles can’t be chalked up to a superior opponent. It’s too many weeks into the Great Plains Athletic Conference slate.

The Tigers’ mistakes were scattered across 60 minutes, but none more glaring than midway through the third quarter. They forced a fourth-and-7 at the 45-yard line, but had 12 men on the field on the ensuing punt. After a timeout, Morningside lined up in a goal-line set looking for two yards, which saw A.P. Ponder burst through a hole untouched for a 50-yard touchdown.

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“We have them in fourth-and-7 and we call a timeout because our personnel is wrong, then we still end up with our personnel wrong,” Cimpl said. “Those things can’t happen.”

Morningside coach Steve Ryan admitted DWU gave it problems in the first half, which saw the Tigers intercept three passes. So, it adapted.

“We ran the things that worked and stayed with those things,” Ryan said. “Some of the inside runs and screens, we kind of went to them more.”

The Mustangs stopped forcing passes downfield, rather ran a similar wide receiver screen three times for 53, 43 and 60-yard touchdowns. Along with Ponder’s 50-yard score up the gut, Anthony Sims had a 60-yard touchdown run. The Mustangs scored 10 total touchdowns and racked up 643 yards.

DWU’s three first-half interceptions are somewhat lost by the defense once again fading in the second half. It’s been outscored 186-43 in the second half of GPAC games.

“Dakota Wesleyan did some things that frustrated us early, got some turnovers on us,” Ryan said. “But I think as the game went on, our depth kind of wore them down and finished strong.”

Not everything can be chastised, such as third-string quarterback Anthony De La Torre’s two interceptions and 89 passing yards. He was a wideout at the start of the conference season. And Mitchell native Cody Reichelt had a team-high eight tackles and an interception, giving him 42 tackles in the past four contests.

Still, as Morningside’s offense adapted, its blend of quickness and power also made it hard to attack. DWU put more emphasis on attacking on the perimeter in the second half, but it led to a pick-six and little success in the run game.

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Canova native Luke Loudenburg was often met in the backfield, leading to eight yards on 13 carries. He has 44 yards on 34 rushes in the last three weeks.

“Being able to mix things up and keep teams off balance (is important),” Cimpl said. “And right now we’re having to throw the ball to open up the run game and sometimes that’s how it goes.”

The bye week could be enough time for offensive lineman Logan Busch, Mitchell native Kiel Nelson and “big-play” receiver Garrett Determan to return. Hosting 1-8 Jamestown (N.D.) on Nov. 9 also is arguably DWU’s best chance at a GPAC win this year, but the same problems can’t continue to haunt them.

“We look at everything, and we have to improve off little mistakes,” Cimpl said. “Whether they’re little mistakes or big mistakes, we have to point those things out.”

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