Congrats to the Tiger football team for its 41-10 win at Dana on Saturday. I'm sure you know this fact by now, but this is the first time a DWU team has been over .500 (2-1) in the GPAC since the league was formed in 2000. It's another step in the right direction for Brad Pole's program, and there are a lot of positives the Tigers can take away from Saturday's victory as they prepare for a huge home game Saturday against Hastings College.
For the nuts and bolts of Saturday's win, click here for my release and here for Leah Rado's game story for The Daily Republic.
The dominance of the running game and the offensive line was a great subplot from the win. Now, in a pair of victories over Nebraska Wesleyan and Dana, DWU has proven it can win with the pass (291 yards vs. NWU) and the run (264 yards vs. Dana), and if it can put it all together, the Tigers will be tough for anyone to stop from here on out. The addition of Justin Guzman (107 yards on 15 carries) was big for the DWU running game, and the trio of Guzman, Boogie Blossom (102 yards and a score on 15 carries) and Jim Williams (43 yards and two TDs) gives the Tigers a deep and versatile running attack.
At the same time, plenty of praise needs to be heaped on the offensive line. Starters James Hansen, Zach Zephier, Dennis McDaniel, Cody Bier and Kirk Byrd and a few key backups did a great job run blocking one week after a spectacular pass-blocking performance. I'm sure the guys up front are happy about springing a pair of 100-yard rushers, especially in the fashion that it happened. DWU flat-out wore down Dana's defense and did a good job of putting the game far out of reach with its dominant running performance in the second half.
The defense also continues to show improvement and a flair for big plays. A week ago, Eric Adolph's 40-yard interception return for a TD put away the Prairie Wolves, and Saturday it was the defense that got the scoring started. Daniel Wysong scooped up a fumble, then during the return he flipped the ball back to Ryan Deibert who took it the rest of the way for an early Wesleyan lead. The Tigers did a good job of making life difficult for four-year starting QB Marcus Sladek and company, and for the third-straight game DWU didn't allow its opponent to rush for 100 yards as a team. In two games, the Tigers have allowed just two touchdowns and a field goal, and one of the touchdowns was aided by two 15-yard penalties and the other came in the final minute of Saturday's blowout. If the Tigers can keep holding teams to 7-10 points, the wins should keep coming.
Saturday's game against Hastings will be a huge test for the Tigers, and it's exciting to have such a big game on our home field. But we'll worry about looking ahead later in the week. For now, it's time to just enjoy being 2-1 and headed in the right direction.
The footbal team wasn't the only Tiger team to earn a win Saturday. DWU volleyball got its first home win in a nonconference sweep of overmatched Presentation. Things were sort of sloppy in the first game (at the scorer's table as well as on the court), but it was fun to see the Tigers play really well in games two and three to win convincingly (25-14 and 25-11) to put away the Saints. Maria Wieneke had a great hitting performance -- it seemed like anytime she had a chance for a kill, she put it down. Also, DWU was able to use its bench and a lot of girls contributed to the win. Click here to read the recap.
Both soccer teams also played well Saturday. The men won a heated game against Midland Lutheran, 4-1, and one particular stretch in the second half stood out. Jordan Werner made a great diving save on a Warriors' penalty kick, and the Tiger defense survived another strong MLC rush in which it looked certain the Warriors would pull within 2-1. Instead, DWU kept them off the board, and followed with a goal from Matt Dutt just a few minutes later to really swing the momentum. Midland Lutheran eventually did score, but DWU answered right back again for a nice finishing touch to a solid home win. Read the recap here.
The women's team also played well in a 3-1 loss. DWU held a distinct advantage in most of the statistical categories, but the bounces didn't go their way. It's probably frustrating for the young Tigers to play so well and still come up short on the scoreboard, but they should take solace in the fact that they're clearly moving in the right direction, and with experience and improvement, those bounces will start going their way and the wins will start to come. It's all part of growing as a program. The recap from Saturday's game is here.
It's actually kind of a light week for DWU sports in Mitchell. Men's golf is on the road today and tomorrow, volleyball travels to Morningside Wednesday, women's golf is at Hastings Thursday and volleyball is at York Friday. The only home events for the week are football and soccer on Saturday, and the cross country team returns to action Saturday at Dakota State.
There's also a pretty big baseball series going on at the Metrodome this week in case you haven't heard. I'll be glued to FSN Tuesday-Thursday while monitoring the Tigers on the road.
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