In a game that pitted the top two teams in the conference against one another, No. 14 Northwestern fell short against No. 5 Morningside by the score of 21-10 last Saturday night.
The Raiders took to the offensive first, but junior Brandon Smith had the ball knocked loose deep in NW territory. Morningside gained an early 7-0 advantage four minutes into the contest.
“It was clear they were trying to stop [Smith], but we knew that,” said junior Eli Groenendyk.
The Mustangs were threatening again later on in the quarter, but junior Jordan Carlson forced a fumble inside the red zone.
The first substantial drive that the Raiders put together ended in junior kicker Mike O’Brien hitting a 46-yard field goal to put the Raiders on the board, 7-3.
After another Mustang three-and-out, NW mounted together a 66-yard drive that ended in junior Jayme Rozeboom dashing out to his right on a naked bootleg from 6 yards out to take the lead 10-7.
“It felt like we were clicking the second quarter. We were pushing them back and wearing down their defense,” Groenendyk said.
Punts ruled the third quarter until sophomore Jerel Kyles hauled in an interception, but penalties forced the offense to punt yet again. Near the end of the quarter, momentum shifted.
Morningside began a drive that would cover 93 yards and end in the go-ahead touchdown. They punched in another touchdown for the final points of the game early in the fourth quarter.
“We had them pinned inside their own 10, and we could have given our offense a short field,” said junior lineback Nate Fischer. “There was some miscommunication, and they put a scoring drive together.”
Offensively, the Raiders managed 246 yards, while Morningside ground out 326. The statistical black eye for NW was 11 penalties totaling 105 yards. Smith managed only 44 yards on 15 carries, and his counterpart sophomore Theo Bartman ran for 37 yards.
Rozeboom threw for 131 yards and a pick to go along with his rushing touchdown.
On the other side of the ball, the Raiders forced four turnovers and were led by junior Aaron Jansen’s seven tackles. Transfer senior Steve Norman recorded 6.5 stops from the safety position.
NW looks to bounce back this weekend against Doane.