No. 25 Nebraska Wesleyan held a lead for the entire game until No. 22 Northwestern College scored on a 14 yard touchdown pass with 40 seconds left in the game as the Red Raiders rallied for a 24-20 victory in Great Plains Athletic Conference football action on Saturday afternoon (Sept. 19) at Korver Field in Orange City, Iowa in a battle between nationally-ranked teams.
It marks the 10th straight win for Northwestern over NWU, and the seventh time in that streak the game has been decided by four points or less.
Nebraska Wesleyan (1-2, 1-2 GPAC) had a shot to make one last chance at a comeback after Jordan Delbaugh returned a kickoff 44 yards to the Northwestern 37, but quarterback Matt Hagge was intercepted on the very next play.
The Red Raiders (2-1, 2-1) trailed the entire game and were down 20-17 when they took the ball on their own 23 with 3:32 to play. Northwestern marched 77 yards in 12 plays and scored when quarterback Ryan Morgan found Jordan Rexilius, a Lincoln native, for the 14-yard go-ahead touchdown.
NWU led 13-0 early, but could have been up more. The Prairie Wolves blocked the first punt of the game, as NWU blocked a punt for the third straight game. Zach Egger missed a 31 yard field goal. On the next possession for NWU, they drove the ball to the 24, but Egger, this week's National Player-of-the-Week, missed another field goal from 41 yards.
However, on the Red Raiders next possession Josh Kendle intercepted a pass to give NWU the ball on the 26. On the very next play, Hagge found Mike Colgrove for a 26 yard touchdown pass.
Hagge threw his second of three TD passes with 10:29 to play on a 35 yard completion to Bryce Weaver. One of the biggest plays of the game occured on the PAT as the Red Raiders blocked the kick and returned it for two points and regain momentum.
Northwestern added a touchdown late in the second quarter as Taylor Malm scored on a direct snap 1-yard run on fourth down to make the score 13-10 at halftime.
On the Prairie Wolves third possession of the third quarter, Hagge led the Prairie Wolves on a 76-yard drive capped off with a six-yard TD pass to Jake Pelton to give NWU a 20-10 lead after three quarters.
The Red Raiders scored a TD with 9:23 to play to pull within 20-17. NWU tried to maintain the ball, but was stuffed on their next two possessions to give Northwester the ball to setup their final TD drive.
Hagge finished 11-21 for 185 yards with a career high three touchdown passes, but also threw two interceptions. The Prairie Wolves struggled rushing the ball with 79 yards on 38 carries (2.1 ypc). Kory Kahlandt had 66 yards on 23 carries to lead NWU. Jerod Franck had four catches for 71 yards to lead NWU.
On defense, Garrett Rippen led NWU for the third straight game with 11 total tackles. Luke Luetchens added his second interception of the season.
Northwestern had 286 yards of total offense with 167 rushing and 119 through the air.
NWU will look to bounce back next week when they return home to Abel Stadium to host Dordt College at 1 pm.