Red Raiders Fall To Morningside In NAIA Game of the Week

October 21, 2018

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No.3 Northwestern lost to top-ranked Morningside 42-34 in an epic NAIA Game of the Week match-up between top five teams played in front of 3,000-plus fans at DeValois Stadium.

Tied at 28 at the end of the third quarter, a 24-yard field goal by Braxton Williams put the Red Raiders in front 31-28 on the second play of the final period. Morningside, however, responded with a nine-play, 75-yard drive, finished off with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Trent Solsma to Bo Els to take the lead for good 35-31 on its next possession.

The Red Raiders turned it over on the ensuing possession, giving the ball back to the high-scoring Mustangs at the NWC 22-yard line. Seven plays later, Morningside capitalized on the short field as Solsma connected with Els once again, this time for a 10-yard touchdown to put the visitors up by two scores (42-31) with 6:32 left to play.

In dire need of a score, Northwestern’s offense and special teams came through as Williams drilled a 38-yard field goal with just under five minutes left to make it a one-score game (42-34). The scoring drive was aided by a great 53-yard kick return down to the Mustangs’ 39-yard line.

Morningside, though, would run out the clock on its next drive, converting on a fourth-and-one at midfield after the Red Raiders had used all of their timeouts to preserve the win.

For the game, Northwestern totaled 25 first downs and 331 yards compared to 26 first downs and 450 yards for Morningside.

Jacob Kalogonis rushed 15 times for 87 yards and two scores, passing Marty Guthmiller for fourth place all-time in career rushing at NW. The junior also moved up to sixth with 34 career rushing touchdowns, passing Lance Baatz (1992-95). Tyson Kooima accounted for 242 yards and two touchdowns, completing 15-of-32 passes for 186 yards and rushing for 56 yards and a touchdown. Shane Solberg caught a game-high nine passes for 125 yards and a touchdown, recording his fourth 100-yard game of the season.

Morningside opened the game with its high-scoring offense in full display as they marched 75 yards on seven plays capped by a Solsma to Els 20-yard touchdown for a 7-0 lead just 2:30 minutes in. Northwestern answered right back, going on a seven-play, 63-yard drive completed by a 43-yard pass from Kooima to Solberg that also used under three minutes of clock.

The Raider Defense then forced the Mustangs to punt after three plays and Coach McCarty’s offense came through again as Kalogonis put his team in front 14-7 with a 10-yard run. Following another Morningside punt, Northwestern began a nine-play, 72-yard drive that finished with a Kooima seven-yard touchdown run on fourth down to give his team a 21-7 lead early in the second quarter.

Facing their largest deficit of the season, Morningside scored the final 21 points of the first half to take a 28-21 lead into the locker room. AP Ponder scored on a pair of short runs and Solsma connected with Reid Jurgensmeier on a 14-yard touchdown pass during the quarter.

Needing to get the momentum back in their favor, the Red Raider offense began the second half with an impressive 10-play, 75-yard drive and tied the game with a one-yard run by Kalogonis at the 9:30 mark. Both teams were unable to score for the rest of the quarter and Northwestern grabbed the lead back on Williams’ field goal at the start of the fourth.

Defensively, Tanner Machacek had a big day, totaling a season-high 10 tackles, seven solo and assisted on three others. Sean Powell accounted for nine stops and Nate Bennett matched his career-best with nine tackles and a one quarterback sack. Both Garrett Sayler and Bryce Van Beek turned in eight tackles each.

Ponder had a bid day running the ball, totaling 161 yards and two scores on 34 carries. Solsma completed 23-of-31 passes for 231 yards and four touchdowns and Els made the most of his three catches, all going for scores. Jacob Katzer led the Mustangs defense with 11 tackles and his brother, Joel, added seven stops.

The Red Raiders drop their first game of the season, falling to 5-1 in the GPAC, 6-1 overall. Morningside pushed its win streak to eight as the Mustangs stay unbeaten, improving to 6-0 in the conference, 8-0 overall.

Northwestern will travel to Hastings, Neb. to play the Broncos next weekend.