It was a great day for football in Madison, South Dakota as the DSU Trojans (1-2) took on the Iowa Wesleyan Tigers (2-2) for their homecoming game on September 24th. The Trojans relied on their defense and running game to bolster them throughout the night.
It was an unproductive first half for both teams’ offenses. The Trojans ended the first drive of the game with a failed field goal attempt from the Tiger’s 44-yard line after starting on the Iowa 40. The Tigers took over on downs only to lose two net yards and a punt. The teams traded a three-and-out over their next respective drives, with neither making it past their initial line of scrimmage.
With 1:03 left in the first quarter, DSU would cap off a 5-minute, 11-play drive with their first points of the afternoon. After several short gains on the ground, sophomore running back, Tyce Ortman, ran the ball in on 4th. A field goal from Noah Karwacki converted the PAT to make the score 7-0.
The Trojans played a scoreless second quarter despite being in the red zone twice. With a DSU fourth and goal at the Tiger’s 3-yard line, Coach Anderson elected to go for six points rather than three to no avail. Quarterback Cameron McKeon was tackled for a loss of 4 yards and a turnover on downs. This was a 10-minute drive, consisting of 18 plays. The very next play, the Trojans would record their second interception of the day through the junior defensive back, Robert Cage, with 25 seconds left on the clock. Three incompletions later, DSU would miss the field goal attempt from the Wesleyan 17 to end the half.
The game’s momentum would roll in DSU’s favor during the second half. Towards the end of the third quarter, Tyce Ortman would go on an explosive 62-yard tear to the Tigers 3-yard line, breaking several tackles along the way. Dylan Johnson finished the job from there with a rushing touchdown. The Trojans improved their lead to 14-0.
The Tigers would respond with a 6 play, 81-yard drive entirely on the ground. Stafford Lewis had the biggest run of the drive with 32 yards. Fullback Parker Heidt reached over the goal line for a rushing touchdown followed by the PAT, making the score 14-7.
DSU would add another three points to their lead on their next drive. Tyce Ortman recorded another big run during the drive, rushing for 21 yards. Quarterback Josiah Vitale was 2 for 4 passing on the drive, throwing for 16 yards, and running for 11 yards. Karwacki would kick it through the uprights from the 37 yard line with 9 minutes and 6 seconds left in the game.
The Trojans made short work of the Tiger offense on the next drive. Michael Foster recovered a fumble forced by fellow freshmen defensive back, Tamereon Foster. Dakota State took over from the Wesleyan 33.
Dylan Johnson would rush for 19 yards after being stuffed behind the line for a loss of a yard on the previous play. QB Josiah Vitale would rush for 3 yards to the Tiger’s 12-yard line the next play followed by a loss of 1. DSU would get their first passing touchdown of the evening via Josiah Vitale to second-year wide receiver Cole Sylliaasen. Karwacki was 3 for 3 on PATs on the night, making the score 24-7 with 4 minutes and 50 seconds left in the game.
After forcing another Wesleyan punt on the next position, the Trojans would run out the clock with several running plays to claim their sixth straight home game victory.
Dakota State’s defense limited the Tiger’s total offense to only 136 total yards compared to DSU’s 315. Sophomore defensive end, Cody Brown, recorded 2.5 sacks, 7 tackles, and a forced fumble. Nose Guard Devonte Murphy contributed half a sack as well as the most total tackles on the night with 9 tackles. DE, defensive end, Brooks Jansen recorded a sack, a broken pass, and 7 tackles. Iowa was 1 for 8 on third down conversions, and their only fourth down attempt was stopped.
The Trojans’ running game was integral to their victory. It was a career night for Tyce Ortman, who rushed for 164 yards and a touchdown while averaging 6.6 yards-per-carry. Dylan Johnson racked up 39 yards over 8 carries and a touchdown. Josiah Vitale recorded a passing touchdown for DSU, throwing 3 for 8 for a total of 33 yards. The Trojans almost doubled their opponent’s time of possession (39:02 to 20:58).
When asked what the best moments of the game were, Coach Anderson went on to say that “just being able to run that ball offensively; being able to burn the clock and get the first downs like we did,” was the best! “We haven’t had that opportunity this whole year to be able to do that, so I was really proud of the way the offensive line handled themselves and the way the running backs were running through arm tackles and creating extra yards after contact.” Furthermore, he gave praises to his defense that kept Wesleyan from throwing the ball. “Outstanding gameplan by our defensive side and they executed it perfectly,” he said.
The Trojans came into the game with a different starting quarterback than the last game against Waldorf. This week, the Trojans started the game with Cameron McKeon and went on to put in Josiah Vitale during the second half. We asked Coach Anderson if being able to perform well and win with a different quarterback under the center was a confidence boost for the team. “Absolutely. Our guys knew that was our situation going in and so everyone took it amongst themselves to do better in their positions. Next guy up. We’ve just got to help everybody out and encourage and continue to do everything we can.”
The Trojans will continue their pursuit of this year’s NSAA championship title. They lost their home game against Dickinson State University but clapped back by defeating Valley City State on their turf. Their next game will be this weekend October 15th on the Trojan Field. Come out and cheer on your Trojans! The live game feed can also be found on DSU’s athletics website. Previous game footage can be found on Dakota State Athletics’ YouTube channel.