The Nebraska Wesleyan defense had one of their most dominating performances of the season and the Prairie Wolves offense scored two touchdowns in the final three minutes as NWU defeated Dakota Wesleyan, 17-0, on Senior Day Saturday (Nov. 3) at Abel Stadium in Lincoln.
NWU (5-4, 4-4 GPAC) extended its win streak to four games as the Prairie Wolves have one game remaining in the season next Saturday at Hastings College.
In a battle of one of the NAIA’s top running backs against one of the top rushing defenses in the country, it was the NWU defense that came out on top. The Prairie Wolves held DWU to eight total rush yards and limited DWU RB Josh Endres to 17 yards on 12 carries. Endres entered the game averaging 138 yards per game to rank fourth in the NAIA.
It was a defensive struggle the whole game as the score was 0-0 at halftime. The only scoring chance came in the first quarter for Nebraska Wesleyan, but the Prairie Wolves did not convert a 4th down attempt at the 15-yard line.
NWU shut down DWU on their opening possession of the second half and a 29-yard punt return by Cody Eiler put the Prairie Wolves in good position. Two first downs set up a 35-yard field goal for Aaron Lorraine to put NWU up 3-0.
Dakota Wesleyan mounted their best drive at the end of the 3rd quarter as a 46-yard pass from Jon Bane to Mitch Breen switched fields for the Tigers. DWU got down to the 13-yard line but Dan Porter’s game-tying field goal attempt was blocked by Brett Kaczor.
After NWU held Dakota Wesleyan two more times, including a 4th down stop late in the fourth quarter the Prairie Wolves finally got on the board. Dustin Bryant broke around left edge for a 31-yard TD run to put NWU up 10-0.
DWU gave NWU the ball back after not converting a first down on their next possession. The Prairie Wolves put an exclamation point on the senior day win as Jordan Delbaugh busted a 25-yard run for a touchdown.
NWU finished with 230 total yards, with 117 on the ground and 113 through the air. Tyler Francis was 16-28 for 113 yards to remain unbeaten as the starting quarterback. On the ground Dustin Bryant ran for a season-high 95 yards with a touchdown on 17 carries. Jordan Delbaugh rushed for 39 yards with a TD and caught three passes for 19 yards.
Defensively, the Prairie Wolves limited Dakota Wesleyan to 256 total yards, with 248 yards through the air and only eight on the ground. Jon Bane attempted 54 passes for DWU with 28 completions.
Brett Kaczor led the way for the NWU defense with eight total tackles, 2.0 tackles-for-loss and a blocked kick. Kaczor missed last week with injury and played Saturday’s game despite the pain. Fellow senior Russell Walton had seven total stops with 2.0 TFL, a quarterback sack, a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry. The third senior, Cody Eiler, had six solo stops, a pass breakup and had 61 return yards.