SIOUX CITY, IOWA (KCAU) – It’s not often you get a marquee matchup to open the season, but that was the case for No. 3 Northwestern and the defending national champions of No. 1 Morningside on Saturday night. Each met in the NAIA semifinals the last two years with both trading wins to reach the national title game, and the Mustangs would have the last laugh for the third straight time defeating the Red Raiders 30-29 along with a night full of support towards Morningside football chaplain Dirk Bak’s fight with cancer.

The scoring started midway in the 1st quarter, as Northwestern quarterback Blake Fryar rifled a dart to Michael Storey for a 26-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead. But Morningside would retaliate the ensuing drive. Reigning NAIA Player of the Year quarterback Joe Dolincheck connected with Zach Norton on a deep 60-yard pass to knot it up at 7 a piece.

Northwestern would keep on the red zone door in the quarter though. Logan Meyer punched it in for the score from 2 yards out, reclaiming the 14-7 lead for the Red Raiders. But the Mustangs weren’t fazed heading into the second quarter, as Dolincheck continued his success in the air with a 44-yard TD strike to Michael Payne to tie it back up 14-14, a score that remained into halftime following a missed 20-yard field goal from Eli Stader.

The Mustang defense came ready to go in the 3rd quarter, pinning the Red Raiders on their own 2 yard line, leading to an Isaac Pingel sack and safety for a 16-14 lead. The home team’s offense would follow in step. Dolincheck would air it out for Caleb Schweigar in the back right corner for the 24 yard passing TD, giving Mside their largest lead of the game at 24-13.

Each team would trade touchdowns into the final four minutes of the 4th quarter, where Morningside would hold their ground towards a 30-29 win marking their 62nd straight GPAC victory, and another instant classic with Northwestern.