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Goal line stand lifts No. 18 Tigers over Concordia

The Dakota Wesleyan University football team made a goal-line stand to keep its playoff hopes alive and to beat the Concordia Bulldogs 17-10 Saturday at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell.

Dakota Wesleyan University running back Jonathan Withrow (22) takes a handoff from quarterback Dillon Turner (15) during the first half of the Tigers' game against Concordia on Saturday at Joe Quintal Field. (Marcus Traxler/Republic)
Dakota Wesleyan University running back Jonathan Withrow (22) takes a handoff from quarterback Dillon Turner (15) during the first half of the Tigers' game against Concordia on Saturday at Joe Quintal Field. (Marcus Traxler/Republic)

The Dakota Wesleyan University football team made a goal-line stand to keep its playoff hopes alive and to beat the Concordia Bulldogs 17-10 Saturday at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell.

With 16 seconds remaining, Concordia marched the football down to the Tigers' 16-yard line. But on fourth down with 4 seconds left, DWU senior Zach Thiel broke up a pass on the game's final play, preserving the win for the Tigers.

The Tigers scored the go-ahead touchdown on a special teams play with 12:01 remaining in the fourth quarter, as Dustin Livingston raced 52 yards for a touchdown on a punt return to break a 10-10 tie.

"I watched my guys coming around and they led the way," Livingston said. "They threw some great blocks and set me up pretty good."

Tigers head coach Ross Cimpl had nothing but praise for Livingston and the special team squad.

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"It was a great job by Dustin to trust in the return and a great job by all the guys on the special team," Cimpl said. "It was our first punt return for a touchdown this year and it shows that our guys took advantage of their opportunities when they were on the field."

Concordia scored first as running back Bryce Collins rushed 24 yards for a touchdown. The extra point was good for a 7-0 Bulldog lead.

The Tigers tied the game at 7 when Dillon Turner hit Livingston on a 17-yard scoring strike.

DWU took the lead with 6:25 on the clock as Daniel Porter hit a 25-yard field goal.

Still trailing 10-7 in the third period, Bulldog quarterback Garret Folchert hit Trae Owens on a 62 yard pass to the Tigers' 3-yard line.

At that point the DWU defense stiffened-holding Concordia out of the end zone on two rush plays and an incomplete pass, forcing a Bulldog 19-yard field goal.

"That was huge for our guys," Cimpl said of his defense. "I know that they don't like giving up points, but for them to respond in that situation and hold Concordia to a field goal was incredible."

Turner gave credit to his defense and the special teams play for leading the Tigers to victory.

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"It was a whole team deal," Turner said. "The offense didn't have their best day, but the defense stepped up and special teams had a huge play. "It's a whole team effort and not just one guy."

Turner was 8-of-28 for 67 yards passing. The Tigers got 55 yards rushing from Jonathon Withrow.

DWU was held to just 158 total yards of offense.

DWU forced six turnovers-three fumbles and three interceptions. Brady Bonte, Cody Bonte and Dillon Rork each had an interception. Adam Bormann led the Tiger defense with 11 tackles.

Folchert led the Bulldog attack by going 19-of-41 for 239 yards and Collins had 31 carries for 127 yards.

Concordia (5-4) had 367 total yards.

"For us to get this win is huge for our guys," Cimpl said. "Winning games in November is a big deal and we're happy about this one."

The playoffs are a possibility but Cimpl said his team has to keep winning. "It's out of our hands (playoffs) a little bit," Cimpl explained. "We have to move up in the rankings and winning games helps that. It comes down finishing the season winning a ball game and that has to be our focus."

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DWU, ranked 18th in the last poll, raises its record to 8-2 and faces Dordt College in the regular season finale at 1 p.m. on Saturday in Sioux Center, Iowa.

Scoring summary

First quarter

CON: Bryce Collins 24 run (Adam Meirose kick good)

Second quarter

DWU: Dustin Livingston 17 pass from Dillon Turner (Daniel Porter kick good)

DWU: Porter 25 field goal

Third quarter

CON: Meirosr 19 field goal

Fourth quarter

DWU: Livingston 52 punt return (Porter kick good)

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