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Strong second half boosts DWU football over Hastings

Jamin Arend, Tigers' defense lead the way in homecoming win.

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Dakota Wesleyan running back Jamin Arend is wrapped up by a Hastings College defender during a game on Sept. 25, 2021, at Joe Quintal Field. (Landon Dierks / Republic)

Dakota Wesleyan scored 20 second half points in a 27-16 win over Hastings College (Neb.) on Saturday afternoon at Joe Quintal Field.

Running back Jamin Arend accounted for 186 of the Tigers’ 443 total yards and scored the game-clinching 27-yard rushing touchdown on a second-and-20 play with 1:29 remaining. Arend’s touchdown capped a 12-play, 81-yard drive that took more than 6 minutes off the clock.

"We just wanted to run the clock out by running the ball, and we knew we could do it up front," Arend said. "The offensive line brought it in the second half. They did all the hard work for me. I didn't have to do anything."

Added DWU coach Ross Cimpl: ''They know we're going to run the ball in that situation. They know who we're going to give it to, so you need to be able to execute and get yards."

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Dakota Wesleyan linebacker Cody Reichelt (9) and defensive end Ethan Engen (90) close in on Hastings quarterback John Zamora during a game on Sept. 25, 2021, at Joe Quintal Field (Landon Dierks / Republic)

The Tigers overcame three turnovers (to Hastings’ zero) by leaning on their defense.

"In those [turnover] situations, we really put our defense in a tough spot," Cimpl said. "Those guys have been the backbone of what we've been doing for a long time, so I wasn't excited about putting them in a bad spot, but I have confidence in them to turn the game around. ... [Hastings] kind of had us on our heels, but once our guys got locked in, they made it really tough."

Trailing 14-7 at halftime, DWU’s defense stepped up to shut out the Broncos’ offense after the break. Hastings’ lone points after halftime came on a DWU extra point attempt that was returned for two points. The Broncos managed just four first downs and less than 100 yards of total offense in the final 30 minutes.

"We came out a little flat in the first half, so in the second half we knew we had to come to play," Arend said. "It was just a great team win. Offense, defense, both got it done."

Hastings opened the afternoon’s scoring with a 5-yard touchdown scramble by quarterback John Zamora on the game’s first possession. The Tigers drew level on the first play of their second possession, as quarterback Kiel Nelson kept the ball on a read play and raced 74 yards down the visitor sideline to tie the game at 7-7. After more than a full quarter without a score, Hastings broke through again with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Zamora to running back Tyree Nesmith just before halftime.

To that point, the DWU offense had struggled. They had just three first-half first downs and Nelson's long run accounted for almost half of the total offense. But the second half was a different story.

"[Hastings] is very talented up front and their defensive line was giving us problems all day," Cimpl said.

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Nelson connected with Preston Nedved for a 14-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter, when the Broncos returned the extra point attempt to make the score 16-13.

From then on, DWU (2-2) controlled the game. Garrett Determan caught a Nelson pass deep over the middle for a 76-yard touchdown on the Tigers’ next possession to put DWU up for good, 20-16, before Arend's late run sealed the win.

Nelson ended his afternoon 10-of-13 passing for 173 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also added 120 yards rushing on 12 attempts. Hunter Cordell led the Tigers' defense with a sack, two tackles for loss, 14 total tackles and a forced fumble. Cody Reichelt had nine tackles, including 3.5 for loss.

Zamora led Hastings (0-4) with 236 yards and two total touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) on 25-of-35 passing.

DWU is on the road Oct. 2 at Concordia (Neb.).

Dierks covers prep and collegiate athletics across the Mitchell Republic's coverage region area, focusing on Mitchell High School football and boys basketball and area high school football, volleyball and basketball, as well as Dakota Wesleyan women's basketball. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Gridiron Spotlight, producing video and providing live play-by-play for the traveling weekly prep football broadcast during its first season in the fall of 2021. Dierks is a Mitchell native who graduated from South Dakota State University with his bachelor's degree in journalism in May 2020. He joined the Mitchell Republic sports staff in August 2021. He can be reached at ldierks@mitchellrepublic.com and found on Twitter at @LDierksy.
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