The No. 17 Northwestern football squad had its hopes of an undefeated season dashed on Saturday night in Sioux City after losing to No.4 Morningside 34-7 on Saturday night. Both teams were ranked in the top-10 at the time of the game.
The first quarter saw a slow start for the Raider offense, who had trouble getting into Mustang territory, but the NW defense held firm, and two field goals were all that separated the teams heading into the second quarter.
“Our offense was backed up against a wall for a lot of the first half,” said senior linebacker Nate Fischer, “and they were able to get pretty good field position.”
After giving up a receiving touchdown to fall behind 13-0, the floodgates opened on the Raiders in the last two minutes, where two more Morningside touchdowns sent NW into the locker room down 27-0. Morningside had the ball for over 60 percent of the first half.
“We had plenty of opportunities where they were in third and long,” Fischer said, “but we couldn’t get off the field and didn’t get it done.”
The next scoring came midway through the fourth quarter when junior Theo Bartman punched in a goal line run to get the Raiders on the board, and another late Mustang touchdown made up the final score.
Turnovers did not help the NW cause, giving up possession three times compared to not taking it away from Morningside once.
Junior Davis Bloemendaal threw for 196 yards in the air, finding eight different targets. Senior Eli Groenendyk had five grabs and senior Brandon Smith picked up 52 yards on three catches.Smith averaged over four yards on his eight carries to lead the Raider rushing attack, and Bartman had one touchdown in five carries.
On the defensive side of the ball, Fischer lead the sqaud with 13 tackles, 1.5 for loss. Freshman Jake Zylstra had 10 tackles from his safety spot.
Junior Isaiah Twitty pulled down 10 tackles of his own, and senior Jordan Carlson lead the defensive line with 8 of his own.
The Raiders are looking for a chance to jump back up in the rankings this Saturday when they take on No. 16 Doane at 1 p.m. on Korver Field. The match-up will also give NW a chance to obtain revenge for last year’s loss against Doane, which was a key factor in the squad missing the playoffs.
“We know we’re a talented team,” Fischer said, “but we have to play with a little bit of nastiness. Doane’s a good team and they will come out and play hard. Our focus this week is developing that nastiness. We know we’re the better team, but now we have to be the more physical team.”