A warm November afternoon and a strong performance for the home team set the stage for another Red Raider football win, creating a highly-anticipated matchup for the final week of the regular season. With a 44-17 win over Hastings, Northwestern moved to 9-0 on the season and now prepare to face an undefeated Morningside team at home on Saturday, Nov. 16. Hastings fell to 2-7 overall on the season, with a 1-7 record in conference play.
After deferring on the opening kickoff, NW gained possession in a hurry, following a three-and-out for Hastings. It was only a matter of time before the Red Raiders entered the scoring column, using a quick five-play, 56-yard drive to reach the end zone. Quarterback Tyson Kooima connected with wide receiver Shane Solberg from 24 yards out, which was one of Solberg’s four receiving touchdowns in the game.
The Broncos did not have the ball long before the Raiders found themselves back in the end zone. Hastings quarterback Isaiah Jackson’s pass on 3rd and five was picked off by linebacker Ben Granstra who ran 26 yards for the score. After yet another three-and-out was forced by the NW defense, the Raider offense used a series of short plays to take a commanding 20-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. The dominance continued into the second, as another Kooima to Solberg play extended NW’s lead.
Later in the quarter, NW was in the red zone once again with a 37-0 lead but was stopped short by Hastings to keep the Red Raider lead to 37 at halftime. The Broncos reached the end zone twice in the third quarter, which was opened by the Raider’s final touchdown of the day. The Raiders limited the damage, however, securing a 44-17 victory.
There were many solid individual performances as well for NW, as Kooima completed 16 passes for 279 yards and four touchdowns. All of those touchdowns fell into the hands of Solberg, who finished with 101 yards on six receptions. Running back Garrett Packer established a good running game, as he ran for a total of 81 yards. Linebacker Sean Powell led the Red Raider defense in tackles with nine, while linebacker Tanner Machacek and safety Noah Van’t Hof both had seven stops.
In what will be the biggest matchup in the NAIA for the final week of the regular season, NW hosts Morningside for a battle of two top-five, undefeated teams on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 1 p.m. In last year’s thrilling contest, Morningside stretched out a 42-34 win. The winner of this year’s game will take the conference title and an undefeated record into the postseason.