Morningside’s Steve Ryan chalked up his school-record 119th career football coaching victory when the Mustangs routed Ottawa 42-21 in the first round of the NAIA Championship Series.
Morningside College head football coach Steve Ryan broke the record for career football coaching victories at Morningside when the fourth-ranked Mustangs defeated No. 13 Ottawa University 42-21 in the first round of the 2014 NAIA Championship Series on Saturday at Elwood Olsen Stadium.
The Mustangs, this year’s Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) co-champion, will host Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) co-champion Missouri Valley College in a quarterfinal round contest on Saturday, Nov. 29.
Ryan as a 119-34 record in 13 seasons at Morningside. He had been tied with Jason Saunderson, who compiled a 118-93-11 record as the college’s head coach from 1912-41, for the most career coaching wins at Morningside. Ironically, Ryan’s record breaking victory came against the school where he had his first collegiate coaching job. Ryan had been an assistant coach at Ottawa before he came to Morningside.
The Mustangs, who improved their record to 10-1, wore down the Braves with a rushing attack that produced 396 yards. Morningside, which leads the nation with averages of 58.5 points, 672.8 yards total offense, and 363.5 yards rushing per game, piled up 644 yards total offense against the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) champions.
The game featured the two leading rushers in the nation in Morningside’s Brandon Wegher and Ottawa’s Mike Lundy, who rushed for 1,960 and 1,493 yards, respectively, during the regular season. Wegher won Saturday’s individual dual hands down. He ran for 188 yards and a touchdown in 34 carries to go over the 2000-yard mark for the season with 2,148 yards and NAIA national records of 37 touchdowns, 34 rushing touchdowns, and 224 points. Lundy finished with 83 yards and one touchdown in 23 carries, the longest an 11-yard gain.
Morningside quarterback Ryan Kasdorf, named the Offensive Player of the Game, completed 18 of 27 pass attempts for 248 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 64 yards and a touchdown to finish with 312 yards total offense.
Morningside defensive lineman Darrius McMullin received the Defensive Player of the Game award after he had seven tackles and tied a school single-game record with three quarterback sacks.
The Mustangs, who doubled the Braves’ score and more than doubled Ottawa’s offensive output of 287 yards total offense, took a 21-7 lead into the intermission. Morningside broke the game when it scored touchdowns on three of its first four offensive possessions of the second half to open a 42-7 lead with 10:24 left in the game.
The teams traded touchdowns in the first half before Morningside took the lead for good with a pair of second quarter touchdowns.
Ottawa struck first after a Coltin Ghumm interception and 41-yard return set the Braves up on the Mustangs’ 25-yard line for their first possession of the game. McMullin sacked Ottawa quarterback Michael Behr on the Braves’ first play of the game, but a third down pass interference penalty bailed the guests out and four plays later Lundy powered his way into the end zone from four yards out to put the Braves in front 7-0 with 9:38 left in the first quarter.
It took the Mustangs just three plays to answer when Kasdorf completed a pass to a wide open Connor Niles that went for 50-yard touchdown that tied the score at 7-7 with 8:37 left in the first quarter.
Morningside took the lead for good, 14-7, on a four-yard touchdown run by Wegher at the 12:52 mark of the second quarter to cap a 14-play, 93-yard drive after Behr had pinned the Mustangs on their own seven-yard line with a pooch punt.
The Mustangs staged another long touchdown drive later in the second quarter with a 14-play, 85-yard march that ended with a five-yard touchdown pass from Kasdorf to Kendall Lindeman to make it 21-7 at the half.
Morningside continued a run of 42 unanswered points on third quarter touchdown runs of 15 yards by Kasdorf and six yards by Tyler Kavan and a fourth quarter touchdown pass of three yards from Kasdorf to Trey Russell that stretched the lead to 42-7.
Russell, the Mustangs’ backup tight end, has scored touchdowns on all five of his pass receptions this season.
Ottawa narrowed its final deficit to 42-21 when Behr completed touchdown passes of 16 yards to Kellan Hernandez and 14 yards to Joshua Stangby in the fourth quarter.
Behr finished with 17 completions in 30 attempts for 176 yards. Hernandez was his favorite target with seven catches for 69 yards.
Niles and Lindeman each had five receptions that went for 82 and 70 yards, respectively, for Morningside.
Kavan complimented Wegher’s 188-yard performance by rushing for 90 yards in 16 carries.
Logan Gibbs, Ethan Stofferan, and Zac Schleuger all had 10 tackles to share Morningside honors, while the Braves’ DeVontae Corbitt led all performers with 16 tackles, including 10 solo stops.