Conference Celebration – Senior Day win wraps up GPAC title
SIOUX CITY, IOWA – Morningside College’s unbeaten 2018 campaign continued in front of a hearty bunch of Mustangs fans huddled inside Elwood Olsen Stadium Saturday, Nov. 3.
Head coach Steve Ryan’s crew channeled its inner mailman to the point of making sure to deliver the program’s 33rdstraight Great Plains Athletic Conference and 28thconsecutive regular season victory, despite cold and wet conditions in the home regular season finale. Mside, improving to 10-0 overall and 8-0 in the league, also locked up an eighth straight conference championship in the wake of a 63-21 win over a feisty Dordt College Defender team.
An opportunistic defense proved to be the Maroon’s biggest weapon. The Mustangs totaled four takeaways including fumble recoveries the first two times Dordt had the ball in route to a 21-0 lead less than five minutes in. The visitors, slipping to 6-3 overall and 5-3 in the GPAC, did stay within arm’s length (28-14) into the early stages of the second period before Mside closed the first half with 28 unanswered points and didn’t look back. Sophomore defensive lineman Seth Maitlen (Creston, Iowa) helped spearhead the defensive unit with nine tackles, while junior linebacker Chase Nelson (Beatrice, Neb.) turned in eight tackles with one going for a Defender loss, to go along with a sack and forced fumble.
Morningside’s roadmap featured offense by land and air. Sophomore running back Arnijae “AP” Ponder (Omaha, Neb.) rushed for four touchdowns as part of a 17-carry, 145-yard afternoon in which he went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season and turned in his sixth straight 100-yards-or-more total. Senior quarterback Trent Solsma (Dakota Dunes, S.D.) fired for 300-or-more yards for the ninth time this fall to go with five touchdowns and a trio of receivers tallying five-or-more receptions. Senior Connor Niles (Sioux City, Iowa) turned in 10 catches for 128 yards and a touchdown which moved him into first on the school’s single-season record chart (22); sophomore Reid Jurgensmeier (Wahoo, Neb.) hauled in three touchdowns to go with five catches for 82 yards; and junior Bo Els (Erie, Colo.) was targeted five times for 62 yards.
The Mustangs, also reaching double-digit wins for an 11thconsecutive campaign, conclude the regular season Saturday, Nov. 10. Kickoff at Jamestown College of North Dakota’s Taylor Stadium and Rollie Greeno Field is 12 p.m.