A 30-27 loss against defending NAIA National Champion Southern Oregon ended the Mustangs’ football season.
Southern Oregon’s Tanner Trosin scored the winning touchdown on a quarterback draw with 1:15 left in the game to lift the seventh-ranked Raiders to a 30-27 victory against No. 1 Morningside in Saturday’s NAIA Football Championship Series Semifinal in Sioux City.
The loss ended a standout 12-2 season for the top-ranked Mustangs, who saw their season end in the NAIA Semifinals for the third year in a row.
Morningside and the reigning NAIA National Champion Raiders treated the fans in attendance to a thriller in a game where the lead exchanged hands seven times. The Mustangs took their final lead of the game on a one-yard touchdown run by Tyler Kavan to go up 27-23 with 9:12 left in the game.
The lead stood until Trosin, named the Outstanding Offensive Player of the Game, led the Raiders on a 12-play, 85-yard drive to the winning touchdown. Trosin completed a 10-yard pass to Jeremy Scottow when the Raiders faced a third-and-two from their own 32-yard line to keep the drive alive, but the biggest play came on Trosin’s five-yard TD run when the Raiders converted on four-and-four from the Mustangs’ five-yard line. Morningside’s defense had held the Raiders inside the five-yard line twice earlier in the contest.
The Mustangs made a valiant attempt to keep their season alive when Ryan Kasdorf completed a 15-yard pass to Tanner Ver Steeg to convert on fourth-and-four from their own 35-yard line and then completed a 20-yard strike to Jason Vander Kooi to convert on third-and-15 from their 45-yard line. The Mustangs eventually attempted a game tying 41-yard field goal with five seconds left before the Raiders A.J. Cooper broke through to block the kick and send Southern Oregon (11-2) to the NAIA National Championship Game against No. 6 Marian on Dec. 19 in Daytona Beach, Fla.
In a game that featured two of the highest scoring teams in the nation, the Mustangs took a 7-6 lead into the intermission in a surprisingly low scoring first half. The Raiders took a 6-0 lead on a one-yard touchdown run by Keegan Lawrence with 5:30 left in the first quarter.
Morningside took its first lead when Kavan scored the first of his three touchdowns on a two-yard run with 3:31 left in the first half. Kavan’s scoring run capped a time consuming 20-play, 99-yard drive that started after the Mustangs’ defense held the Raiders on three straight plays from the one-yard line.
The Mustangs extended their lead to 14-6 on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Kasdorf to Michael Whitehead with 13:23 left in the third quarter.
After Southern Oregon took a 16-14 lead on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Trosin to Zack Davis and an 18-yard field goal by Marcus Montano, the Mustangs regained the lead at 21-16 on a five-yard touchdown run by Kavan with 5:28 left in the third quarter.
Trosin scrambled out of the pocket and scored on a 27-yard touchdown run to put Southern Oregon ahead 23-21 with 3:06 left in the third quarter before the Mustangs took the lead for the last time at 27-23 on Kavan’s one-yard TD run with 9:12 left in the game.
Kasdorf completed 24 of 42 pass attempts for 337 yards and rushed for 46 yards to finish with 383 yards total offense.
Kavan led the Mustangs’ rushing attack with 61 yards in 27 carries, while Connor Niles had a team-high six pass receptions that went for 92 yards. Vander Kooi finished with 100 yards on five receptions, while Whitehead had five catches for 58 yards.
Trosin completed 27 of 39 pass attempts for 391 yards and rushed for a game-high 76 yards to finish with 467 yards total offense. Matt Retzlaff was his favorite target with nine catches for 139 yards.
Ethan Stofferan led the Mustangs’ defense with a season’s high 11 tackles, while Taylor James and Zac Schleuger were right behind with 10 stops. Stofferan, Schleuger, Tony Heimer, and Sean Fitzgerald all had quarterback sacks. Logan Rozeboom had an interception to go along with eight tackles.
Devvon Gage, named the Outstanding Defensive Player of the Game, had a game-high 13 tackles for Southern Oregon. Isiah Carter had 10 tackles, David Weider had 2.5 quarterback sacks, and Karrington Jones had an interception.