SIOUX CITY, IOWA (Morningside Athletics) – Morningside University’s No. 3-ranked National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ Mustangs got up off the mat in the most difficult of situations Saturday, Oct. 23.
With No. 13-ranked Dordt University sitting on the doorstep of a massive Great Plains Athletic Conference victory at Elwood Olsen Stadium, head coach Steve Ryan’s team repelled a 28-19 deficit midway through the fourth quarter and scored two touchdowns in the final 7:06 to claim a heart-stopping 34-28 triumph in front of a crowd that sat on the edge of its seat for the full 60 minutes. The comeback started with adversity shadowing the home side of the field. After a fumble through the back of the end zone took a potential Mside score off the board, Dordt barreled down the field 75 yards for a touchdown to take the nine-point lead.
However, the potent Morningside offense got into gear just in the nick of time. A 1-play, 75-yard march concluded with a neatly-crafted 15-yard scoring strike from senior quarterback Joe Dolincheck (Bellevue, Neb.) to sophomore wide receiver Zach Norton (Sioux Falls, S.D.). The 10-time defending league champs had to overcome more white knuckles, as, after the defense stopped the Defenders and got the ball back to the offense, DU’s defense, a complicated equation for the Mustangs to solve throughout the afternoon, stopped their host in their end. Seemingly in control, Dordt picked up one first down and watched Mside whittle away its three timeouts.
Enter senior defensive end Zack Keller (Wilber, Neb.). With the defense needing to stop a fourth and two attempt, he muscled past a Defender offensive lineman and caught opposing quarterback Tyler Reynolds for a considerable loss. Morningside’s offense reciprocated behind Dolincheck’s arm and the hands of senior wide receiver Caleb Schweigart. The Omaha, Neb., made a one-handed diving catch inside the 10-yard line and then collected the eventual game-winning score in the left corner of the end zone with 42 seconds left. Dordt made each of those ticks off the clock seem like a lifetime, moving the ball to Mside’s 28-yard line. Junior defensive back Lonell Boyd, Jr. (St. Louis, Mo.) finally allowed a large breath of relief exhalation to leave the stadium battling for an interception in the end zone as the clock ran out.
As usual, the heroes were many for Ryan’s crew. Junior placekicker Chase Carter (Knoxville, Iowa) played a crucial role in enabling the Mustangs to move to 7-0 overall and in the conference. He became just the third kicker in school history to hit four field goals in a game, nailed both of his extra-point attempts, and launched four kickoffs out of seven for touchbacks. Senior running back Anthony Sims (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), Dolincheck, Norton, and Schweigart paced the offense. Sims had a skillful 37 carries for 279 yards; Dolincheck fired for three touchdowns and over 300 yards, and Norton and Schweigart each hauled in 100-or-more yards receiving. The defense put together an impressive resume with two sacks, ten tackles for losses, two forced fumbles and recoveries, and an interception. Senior linebacker Tyler Wingert (Holstein, Iowa), Boyd, Jr., and senior linebacker Jalen Portis (St. Louis, Mo.) compiled 10-or-more tackles.
Morningside honors its Class of 2022 unit and similar individuals from the marching band, cheerleading, and dance team squads on Saturday, Oct. 30. Kickoff for Senior Day 2021 is 1 p.m. against the University of Jamestown.