Mustangs trounce Tabor behind record breaking passing attack
Trent Solsma, a junior quarterback from Dakota Dunes, S.D., passed for a school-record 528 yards to help fourth-ranked Morningside College demolish No. 10 Tabor College 65-14 on Saturday in Hillsboro, Kan., as part of the 2017 Great Plains Athletic Conference/Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Football Challenge.
Solsma, who completed 32 of 37 pass attempts, broke the former Morningside record of 501 yards passing by Craig Fobbe when the Mustangs defeated Evangel University 54-21 in the quarterfinals of the 2005 NAIA Championship Series. Solsma threw five touchdown passes with scoring throws of 44 and 43 yards to Chad Berg, 18 and 63 yards to Tanner Ver Steeg and 68 yards to Connor Niles. Solsma threw for 410 yards and four touchdowns in the first half alone when the Mustangs piled up a 44-7 lead by the intermission.
Morningside (2-0) also broke a pair of team records in the contest with 41 pass completions and 606 yards passing to break its former standards of 39 completions against Saint Xavier University in the first round of the 2015 NAIA Championship Series and 520 yards against Hastings College during the 2014 campaign.
The Mustangs rushed for 232 yards and finished the game with a whopping 43 first downs and 838 yards total offense. The 838 yards total offense was the third highest total in Morningside history.
The Mustangs’ 65-14 victory margin was almost identical to a 65-17 mauling they administered to Tabor when the teams met in the first round of last year’s NAIA Championship Series. Morningside also routed the Bluejays with a 51-6 triumph in the 2015 NAIA Championship Series Quarterfinals.
Niles, who caught eight passes for 263 yards and a pair of touchdowns when the Mustangs defeated the University of St. Francis 41-24 in last Saturday’s season opener, had a career-high 11 receptions that went for 178 yards and a touchdown.
Ver Steeg and Berg also burned the Bluejays’ secondary. Ver Steeg finished with eight receptions for 139 yards and two touchdowns, while Berg had career highs of seven catches for 151 yards and two touchdowns.
Bubba Jenkins paced the Mustangs’ rushing attack with 120 yards in 24 attempts, including a pair of two-yard touchdown runs, for the first 100-yard game of his Morningside career.
Arnijae Ponder rushed for 63 yards in just six attempts and backup quarterback Jared Myers completed nine of 10 pass attempts for 78 yards, including a seven-yard touchdown pass to Reid Jurgensmeier.
Morningside’s defense also got into the scoring act when linebacker Caden McDonald intercepted a Curry Parham pass and returned the theft 50 yards for a touchdown.
The Mustangs’ other points came from the leg of Jared Amundson, who kicked a 25-yard field goal and made eight of nine PAT attempts.
Amundson kicked a 25-yard field goal to open the scoring with 10:04 left in the first quarter. The Mustangs made it 10-0 by the end of the first quarter after Solsma hurled his first touchdown pass of the game on a 43-yard strike to Berg.
The Mustangs broke the game open with five more touchdowns in the second quarter to build an insurmountable 44-7 advantage by halftime.
McDonald and Xavier Spann each had interceptions for Morningside’s defense. Jacob Katzer led the Mustangs in tackles with two solos and four assists for six total tackles. Jesse Faltys had one of the Mustangs’ two quarterback sacks. Brad Wolf, Jason Lupkes and Chase Reis combined on the other.
Morningside will play its home opener on Sept. 9 with a 1 p.m. game against Truman State University. It will be the Mustangs’ first game against a NCAA Division II opponent since they opened the 2002 season with a 24-21 double overtime victory against Wayne State College.