MADISON -- Big plays, big moments and big calls defined Dakota Wesleyan University’s double-overtime thriller at Dakota State University on Thursday.
From Luke Loudenburg’s 59-yard run on the second drive of the season, to his controversial non-touchdown in double overtime, the 33-30 Trojan win had no shortage of eyebrow-raising highlight plays which made each side of Trojan Field try to top the other’s cheer.
“Before this year, it’s kind of the same story -- the same song and dance,” DWU coach Ross Cimpl said. “There’s big plays, there’s guys who make plays who you maybe didn’t expect to make plays.”
On a team which Cimpl emphasized its youth during fall camp, emerging playmakers were scattered across the field. Brandon Slama’s first career interception and touchdown on Preston Emerson’s blocked punt shifted the momentum in each half, while first team all-GPAC kick returner Daniel Libolt flipped the field multiple times thanks to his work on special teams.
Loudeburg left his lasting mark, too. The Canova native isn’t new to the rivalry. In fact, he thrives in it. His 59-yard gain set up a one-yard touchdown and he also had a 23-yard score en route to 163 yards, giving him 473 yards (7.2 yards per carry) and five touchdowns in his career against the Trojans.
It’s not unusual for the redshirt-senior to praise his offensive line, which created holes wide enough to fit a pickup truck through and kept Mitchell native Kiel Nelson upright all game. But his broken tackles and ability to evade defenders in the backfield made him flashier than a sports car, too.
“He’s a heck of a running back. He has been his whole life,” DSU running back Brodie Frederiksen said. “He has such good vision and DWU usually has a pretty big offensive line. Kind of like me, he really easily hides behind that big offensive line, so it’s hard for the linebacker to get his reads. And the dude is so quick so it’s really hard to catch him.”
Frederiksen struggled to hide against the Tigers’ defense, one which he carved up for a career-high 286 yards a year ago. He still excited the crowd when he took advantage of DWU crashing to the left side by juking a couple of defenders and running down the right sideline to a 71-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
Still, holding the former Tiger to 174 yards on 35 carries proved to be a significant improvement for a defense which preaches worrying about their individual job. He was oftentimes met in the backfield and struggled to break tackles against a blitz-heavy defense.
“I’m very confident in my defense this year,” said DWU defensive tackle Dominick Warmbein, who had a team-high 10 tackles. “We’re stepping up. They had some good plays and we had some good plays.”
Warmbein was part of a three-man rotation at defensive tackle, along with Dayne Clark (sack) and true freshman Samuel Henderson (three tackles). Defensive end Caden Milmine also saw significant action as Alan Murtic nursed an ankle injury which forced him to miss time during the first half.
They didn’t force a fumble or score a touchdown -- and at times the Tigers’ aggressive blitzing backfired as they left receivers open downfield -- but they tackled Frederiksen for a loss eight times, forcing DSU to put the ball in quarterback Torren Devericks hands.
“It’s fun to see kids like that grow up and play in a college football,” Cimpl said. “I thought we had a lot of kids do that.”