Mustang defense stymies Concordia
Third-ranked Morningside wrapped up sole possession of its seventh consecutive GPAC football championship with a 35-0 victory against No. 25 Concordia on Saturday in Seward, Neb.
The Mustangs will take a perfect 11-0 record into next Saturday’s first round of the 2017 NAIA Championship Series, where they will make their 14th consecutive appearance for the longest current active streak in the nation. Opening round playoff matchups will be announced by the NAIA on Saturday afternoon.
Morningside won this year’s GPAC title with an 8-0 league slate to improve its record to 58-3 in the GPAC since starting its run of seven straight championships in 2011.
The Mustangs’ defense posted its first shutout of the season and held Concordia to just 10 first downs and 149 yards total offense. The Mustangs sacked Bulldog quarterback Riley Wiltfong four times and pressured Wiltfong into throwing three of the hosts’ four interceptions.
Xavier Spann had three of the Mustangs’ pass thefts, tying a school record that had been achieved nine times before, the last time by current Morningside defensive backs coach Darius Hicks against Concordia in 2013.
Morningside will enter the post-season playing its best defense of the season after allowing only 51 points over the last five games.
While the Bulldogs’ offense struggled to gain yardage, Morningside’s offense amassed 508 yards total offense with 226 yards on the ground and 282 yards through the air.
Mustang quarterback Trent Solsma completed 23 of 35 pass attempts for 282 yards and four touchdowns to account for the winners’ first four scores. Solsma’s first touchdown pass came on a 26-yard strike to Connor Niles with 5:54 left in the first quarter. Solsma connected with Tanner Ver Steeg on a 30-yard TD pass with 1:45 left in the first quarter to put the Mustangs up 14-0.
The Mustangs made it 28-0 after Solsma threw touchdown passes of five yards to Chad Berg with 14 seconds left in the first half and 26 yards to Berg with 9:15 left in the third quarter.
Berg finished with a career-high 11 pass receptions that went for 149 yards for the second highest yardage total of his Morningside career.
Bubba Jenkins scored the Mustangs’ final touchdown of the game on a seven-yard run with 12:16 left in the fourth quarter. Jenkins finished with 133 yards in 28 attempts for his 10th straight game with over 100 yards rushing.
Taylor Meints supported Jenkins in the Mustangs’ rushing attack with 70 yards in 16 carries.
Caden McDonald topped the Mustangs’ defense with eight tackles, including six solo stops. Logan Rozeboom was right behind with seven tackles and one of the Mustangs’ four quarterback sacks.
Chase Reis collected two of the Mustangs’ quarterback sacks and Joel Katzer had a sack.
Spann had three of the Mustangs four interceptions. Deion Clayborne had the Mustangs’ other interception to go along with a pair of pass breakups.