Morningside advances to quarterfinals through explosive 28-point second half of first round in the NAIA Championship Series


SIOUX CITY, IOWA – Senior wide receiver Caleb Schweigart (Omaha, Neb.) and junior defensive back Lonell Boyd, Jr. (St. Louis, Mo.) couldn’t have been more apropos selections for Players of the Game Saturday, Nov. 20.

With a back-and-forth heavyweight title tilt raging between the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for the first 30 minutes at Elwood Olsen Stadium, the upperclassman pair both put their handprints on the outcome. 

And in significant ways.

Schweigart took a punt midway through the third period and weaved through the Ottawa (Arizona) University special teams defense. Eighty-three happy yards later, with the home crowd roaring in approval, he found himself in the end zone virtually untouched to continue what would be a game-deciding 21-0 run for the No. 2-ranked Mustangs in the NAIA Championship Series opener. 

Boyd, Jr.’s opportunity occurred on the ensuing drive with the wily No. 15-seeded Sprit looking to answer as they had seemingly done at each turn. Mside’s defense kept OUAZ out of the end zone and, after a bad snap, Boyd, Jr. got through the line and emphatically blocked a field goal attempt, securing a 49-38 advantage. Two touchdowns later for the home side and head coach Steve Ryan’s program had won an opening-round playoff game for the 16th time in 18 attempts, toppling OUAZ 63-38.

Morningside’s defense proved vital in the second 30 minutes, too, beyond what Boyd, Jr., did in special teams. After Ottawa scored on its first drive of the third quarter for a 38-35 lead, co-coordinators Casey Jacobsen and Nate Turner’s unit stopped the visitors four times on downs and forced them into a punt while only allowing an average of fewer than five yards per play. They managed two sacks and eight tackles-for-losses. Among the individual leaders were senior linebacker Tyler Wingert (Holstein, Iowa), registering his fifth 10-or-more tackles outing of the season (19) to equal his single-game career-high he achieved the week before at Dakota Wesleyan University; Boyd, Jr., who added an interception, a tackle for loss and a breakup to his Player of the Game resume; junior defensive back Jamal Jones (Adelanto, Calif.) finishing with 11 tackles and two break-ups; sophomore Isaac Pingel (Spencer, Iowa) tallying 11 tackles, a half-a-tackle for loss and two break-ups; and senior linebacker Jalen Portis (St. Louis, Mo.) adding ten tackles and one tackle-for-loss.

The offensive heroes for the Mustangs proved to be many as well. Reigning Great Plains Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year Joe Dolincheck (Bellevue, Neb.) was laser-sharp, going 25-for-35 for 360 yards and three touchdowns; the backfield combination of senior Anthony Sims (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) and freshman Ryan Cole (St. Ansgar, Iowa) produced five rushing touchdowns; and the upperclassman-themed wide receiver group of senior Reid Jurgensmeier (Wahoo, Neb.), senior Austin Johnson (Sioux Falls, S.D.) and Schweigart each hauled in five-or-more receptions.

Morningside (11-0) advances into the national quarterfinals Saturday, Nov. 27, at 12 p.m. against an opponent to be determined at Elwood Olsen Stadium. 

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