It was Homecoming Day. The crowd of students, faculty and staff and alumni alike wanted to see their team victorious. They got what they came for.
The No. 14 Northwestern Red Raiders are back on track after a blow-out 35-6 victory over Concordia in conference play Saturday.
“We were pleased with our play,” said Head Coach Kyle Achterhoff. “It was an improvement over a week ago at Dana.”
The Raiders shut out their opponent for the first half of the game, while scoring on an eight-yard run by junior Taylor Malm and an 11-yard strike from senior Brad Payne to sophomore Jameson Rexilius. Junior Ben Rasefske connected on the point after attempts to put them up 14-0 at halftime.
“There were still too many penalties, and we hurt ourselves on first downs in the first half,” Achterhoff said. “The two scoring drives were great drives by our offense.”
NW opened the second half of play with a 60-yard drive, capped by Malm’s second score of the afternoon on a four-yard burst into the end zone.
The defense added six more to the score when junior David Butler ran an interception 24 yards to paydirt to make the score 28-0 halfway through the third quarter.
“We played more consistently in the third quarter and showed what we can do when we play well both offensively and defensively at the same time,” Achterhoff said. “When we play like we did the first three quarters we are one of the best defenses in the nation.”
Concordia found their way onto the scoreboard late in the third after Darius Smith broke a 34-yard run.
However, the Raider special teams unit responded quickly, blocking the extra point to make the score 28-6.
“Our special teams have been solid all season; Saturday was no different. We blocked a kick to keep them at six points and won field position,” Achterhoff said.
Leading the special teams, sophomore punter Nathan Kuik punted five times with an average of 40.6 yards per kick.
NW recieved their final points on a 60-yard bolt by freshman Brandon Smith to make the end score 35-6.
Next week NW travels to Midland Luthern (4-0 in conference) in a tough conference match-up.
“Midland Lutheran is a big athletic team that is 4-0 in the conference,” Achterhoff said. “We need to be ready to play a full 60 minute complete game and match their enthusiasm. It should be a fun day in Fremont.”