This Saturday, the Trojans traveled into Iowa to take on the Red Raiders of Northwestern University. The Trojans struggled against the option earlier in the year against Peru State and were tested by the same scheme by the Red Raiders. DSU started off very disciplined on their assignments, which you have to do when playing against the option. The Trojan offense got the ball into the red zone a couple times and couldn’t punch it in and kept settling for field goals. The Red Raiders kept running the ball successfully and ground this game out with a score of 47-12. The Trojans fell to an 0-5 overall record.
In the first quarter, the Trojan offense could not find rhythm on offense, but Northwestern went on a 10-play drive and got on the board first. The offense went three and out and the punt was almost blocked. This rushed punt set the Raiders up in scoring position again. The scored again with 4:46 left in the first quarter going up 13-0 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Trojans finally go some ball movement but were forced to punt around the 45-yard line. DSU lined up like they were going to kick a field goal, but punted it, and Joshua Licht recovered it on the one-yard line. The defense had the Raiders backed up into their own end zone but this did not faze them.
Northwestern went up 20-0 on a 99-yard 11-play drive. After giving up a field goal and going down 23-0, Brandon Large scrambled and hit Stacey Berg down the left sideline to put the Trojans in the red zone for the first time in the game. The Trojans could not punch it in and Nic Behrens knocked down a 20-yard field goal to put three on the board. Right before the half Behrens hit another field goal, this time from 35 yards, to give the Trojans six points.
In the second half, the Trojan defense came out of the locker room with an enormous amount of intensity. They were penalized three times in a row that gave the Red Raiders a new set of downs on some very questionable calls. The Trojan defense stuck together through those calls and still forced Northwestern to punt. On the next play, Brandon Large ran a play action pass and stepped up in the pocket and delivered a 74-yard strike to Stacey Berg for the first touchdown of the day for the offense. Other than that big play, the offense could not do much.
The Red Raiders did what they do well and ran the ball, putting together long scoring drives. The Trojans were playing their assignments well but they were having trouble wrapping up and finishing their tackles. The Red Raiders ran away with this one after the Trojans scored going on a 24-0 run finishing the game with a score of 47-12.
The big difference in this game was the first downs. The Trojans had 14 first downs to Northwesterns 28 (17 rushing). The offense just could not piece together any good drives in the second half. The defense got tired and tackling started getting sloppy.
Brandon Large threw for 202 yards on 13 passes in 25 attempts with one touchdown. Stacey Berg had another big game with five catches for 140 yards and the only touchdown for the Trojans. The Trojans offense will miss Berg next weekend, who was ejected from the game for throwing a punch. NAIA rules state that if a player is ejected from a game, he is suspended in the following week’s game.
On defense, freshmen linebacker Matt Atnip (Forney, Texas) filled in for senior linebacker Craig Hertz, who suffered and injury last week. Atnip led the team with 5 solo tackles and 11 assists.
“I feel like we didn’t play a full four quarters. If we played together all four quarters we probably could have won that game” said Atnip.
Josh Licht also recorded two solo tackles and 10 assists, plus two tackles for losses. Eric Liles, who was also injured last week, played and had 9 assisted tackles.
Next weekend, Dakota State will host the Concordia Bulldogs at Trojan Field for Homecoming. Kickoff is set for 4 PM.
Featured photo by Tiffany Sommer: Trojans emerge onto the field for the first game of the season. Photo from Northwestern game will be uploaded if it becomes available.