Defense halts Jimmies, losing streak: Tigers hold Jamestown to 69 rushing yards
For the fourth time in five weeks, Dakota Wesleyan University football allowed 21 or fewer points.
However, the Tigers' 41-21 win over the University of Jamestown, which snapped a six-game losing streak and gave them their first Great Plains Athletic Conference win of the year, was different as the problems that have haunted the Tiger defense every week disappeared.
It started right away as DWU forced a three-and-out on its first defensive possession, followed by Tyrel Haley intercepting Jordan Mann on Jamestown's second drive. It was just the third time this season the Tigers didn't allow an opening-drive score.
In fact, the Jimmies didn't find the end zone until Barry Williams, Jr. caught a 19-yard touchdown with 1:25 left in the first half. That was Jamestown's longest touchdown and shortest touchdown drive (seven plays) of the contest.
While DWU still allowed a 52-yard reception late in the first half, it made Jamestown sustain drives instead of giving up long touchdowns. It was the second time this season the Tigers didn't allow a 50-plus yard touchdown, thanks to their defensive line and secondary working in sync.
"There were times when our pressure bailed us out," DWU coach Ross Cimpl said. "There were times when they had a little bit of a seam, but our coverage got there and they weren't able to complete the pass."
Strong defensive line play held Jamestown to 1.5 yards per carry, while Allen Jevning (36 yards, 4.5 average) was the only Jimmie with multiple carries to average more than three yards per rush.
"(We knew) if we let them run the football we were going to be in for a really long day," Cimpl said. "Essentially not letting them run the football, forcing them into passing situations and making them one dimensional gives us a lot more options in what we want to do."
Forcing Jamestown into passing downs worked as Jordan Mann completed 18 of 34 passes for 291 yards, a touchdown and interception.
He had even less success on third downs, completing just 4 of 12 passes for 34 yards and being sacked three times. As a result, the Jimmies converted just 18 percent (3 of 17) of their third downs, though were 5 of 6 on fourth downs. Still, the Tigers showed improvement after they held only Concordia to under 40 percent on third downs during their losing streak.
Mann had to make quick decisions all game due to a collapsing pocket which saw DWU rack up 15 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. Nine different Tigers had a hand in a sack, including Sam Naasz who also forced a fumble.
"Part of it is we were bringing pressure, but even when we weren't bringing pressure, guys were really active up front," Cimpl said. "It's a huge credit to those guys and what they're capable of doing and being able to get their quarterback on the ground."
Starting defensive ends Lukas Chase and Alan Murtic got Mann to the ground as well as anyone as both had 2.5 sacks, while Chase led the team with 10 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss, too.
"Those guys were being really active," Cimpl said. "They're great with their hands and I think they were getting into a rhythm in the pass rush and being in position where they can make that tackle think and stay one step ahead of him and they did a nice job."
DWU (2-7, 1-6 GPAC) returns to Joe Quintal Field at 1 p.m. on Saturday against Doane College.