It's Homecoming week here at DWU... scratch that. It's the Friday at the end of DWU's Homecoming week, which can only mean one thing... Blue and White Days game tomorrow!
Tomorrow's game is a tough one for the Tigers. Hastings comes to town, and the Broncos don't appear to be the team that they've been in the past five or so years, but it's still Hastings, and we seem to have a history of playing very, very close games with them.
Let's look back, shall we. In 2005, Hastings won by three (32-29) in Hastings. The next year the Broncos won pretty handily in Mitchell, but the next year, the Tigers kicked a field goal as time expired to win 34-31 in Hastings. Then comes the 2008 season. That was the year, if you remember, DWU went 7-3 and (I like to think) barely missed a berth in the NAIA playoffs. Well, if they did, in fact, narrowly miss that berth, it's because of the Hastings game.
That year, the Broncos and Tigers played to double overtime, and Hastings pulled off a 28-27 victory in front of DWU's home crowd at Joe Quintal. I was working at The Daily Republic at the time, and was standing on the Tiger sidelines throughout the game. That was such an intense atmosphere. Everyone was one their feet, hoping and praying Hastings wouldn't score. I think it was the first overtime it looked like we held them because we had their QB scurrying in the backfield, but he threw up a prayer of a pass and someone in a Bronco uniform managed to catch it on the 1-yard line, where they ran in for a TD. The Broncos scored again to start the second OT, and then the Tigers scored, but DWU went for two and the win instead of a third OT, and the run failed, giving Hastings the one-point win. Heck of a game.
DWU picked up its second win against the Broncos in school history last year, and is looking for No. 3 tomorrow. The Tigers are also looking for their first 4-0 start in GPAC history tomorrow, and this is a scary game for that. This is a game DWU *should win, but the Broncos are a strange team. They lost 10-0 to Concordia (we rolled past Concordia), but they shutout Briar Cliff and destroyed Dakota State. Their defense leads the league or is at the top of the GPAC in several categories, and their running game is nothing to sneeze at.
The Tigers will need to be at the top of their game, that's for sure. That hasn't been a problem in the first three games; Jon Bane leads the league in passing and total offense, Anthony Muilenburg is at the top of the GPAC in receptions and receiving yards per game and Josh Endres is first in the league in rushing and scoring (and he also leads the nation on scoring). Oh, and Derek Carlson leads the league in punting. We're going to need all those components, plus a solid defense and steady O-line, to come away with a W. We just need to play like we have been.
Hope to see everyone out at Quintal! Tailgating starts at 11:30 a.m.! Who ya rootin' for?!