The football season held a bitter ending Saturday as the Red Raiders fell to the Dakota Wesleyan Tigers 13-10.
“We didn’t play with the same level of intensity and enthusiasm that we have played with in the past,” said Head Coach Kyle Achterhoff. “Unfortunately you can’t do that in our conference and still win.”
The Raiders opened the game well, scoring on their first possession on a 15-play 65 yard drive that was capped by a 1-yard touchdown by junior Kevin VanderSchaaf.
“We started the game really well. We wanted to start the game with the ball and try to set the tone for the game,” Achterhoff said. “The offense did a great job on that drive of moving the ball down the field to get the score.”
Dakota Wesleyan got on the board five minutes later on a 23-yard boot by Nick Garcia. They added to their score soon after on a 3-yard run by Josh Endres to put the Tigers up 10-7.
Northwestern manufactured a 13-play 71 yard drive to set up a 25-yard field goal by junior Ben Rasefske to tie the game at 10 going into halftime.
This was the last time the Raiders would get on the score board.
“We just couldn’t get anything going with any consistency,” Achterhoff said. “At times, we would move the ball, but we didn’t convert on third downs, and that forced us to punt the ball back to Dakota Wesleyan.”
Dakota Wesleyan put the go-ahead kick through the uprights with 9:45 left in the game to seal the victory.
“When we did finally get a drive going to tie or go ahead, we missed opportunities to make a play,” Achterhoff said.
Junior Taylor Malm led the team in rushing with 60 yards on 19 carries, followed by VanderSchaaf with 58 yards on 13 touches. Senior Brad Payne went 11-21 for 129 yards and an interception through the air.
Leading the defense, junior Austin Rozeboom had four solo tackles, five assists, a forced fumble and an interception. Junior Grant Hegstad registered five solo tackles and five assists and junior Caleb Van Otterloo had five assisted tackles, two solo tackles and two passes defended.
The loss to Dakota Wesleyan ends the Raiders season with a record of 7-3.
“Well, our season is now done. With a win we would be practicing and preparing for the playoffs but that just isn’t the case now,” Achterhoff said. “The sad part about this loss is that the seniors on the team have now played their last game as Red Raiders. They will be missed.”
With the season at an end, the Raiders take the positives away from their season and begin preparation for next season.
“We did overcome a lot of adversity this season, and. even though the season didn’t finish like we wanted, a 7-3 season is very respectable,” Achterhoff said. “We gained a lot of experience, and, with the players who we have returning, the future looks really good.”