By Matt Bos, Northwestern (Iowa) Sports Information Director
Photo courtesy of Jeff Bylsma, Capital-Democrat, Orange City, Iowa
Orange City, IOWA - 19-ranked Northwestern College (Iowa) upset top-ranked Morningside (Iowa) 38-28 on senior day in a GPAC football match-up played on Korver Field at DeValois Stadium. It was the fifth straight win for the Red Raiders as they improve to 6-2 in the GPAC, 7-2 overall. The loss snapped a 25-game regular season win streak for the Mustangs, who fell to 7-1 in the GPAC, 8-1 overall.
Theo Bartman rushed for 123 yards on a career-high 33 carries and scored a career-best four touchdowns to lead the Red Raiders offense. Quarterback Davis Bloemendaal also rushed for a touchdown as the Red Raiders used an effective ground game and short passes to control the clock and keep the Morningside offense off the field.
Both teams went scoreless after their first possession as Morningside missed field goal and Northwestern had to punt after gaining a first down. The Mustangs followed with the first touchdown of the game as Brandon Wegher scored on a one-yard plunge to cap a nine-play, 67-yard drive to take a 7-0 lead. Northwestern answered right back with an impressive drive of its own, marching 70 yards on 11 plays and finished off by Bartman with a nine-yard run.
Tied at seven at the end of the first quarter, the Raider D came up with its first of several big plays throughout the game at the beginning of the second. With Morningside driving and faced with a fourth-and-five, Jake Zylstra intercepted a Ryan Kasdorf pass and returned it 23 yards to the Red Raider 30-yard line. The momentum shift was short-lived, however, as Morningside defensive back Darius Hicks intercepted a Bloemendaal pass on the very next play to get the ball back to its offense. Once again, the Raider D came up with a big play as Zylstra recorded his second interception and returned it 49 yards to the Morningside nine-yard line. Three plays later, Bartman scored on a 7-yard run to make it 14-7 Northwestern.
Morningside moved the ball into Red Raider territory on its next possession, only to be stopped on another fourth down play. Taking over at its own 33-yard line, Northwestern added to its lead after an eight-play, 67-yard drive capped by a six-yard run by Bloemendaal. Following a Mustangs punt, Northwestern scored its final touchdown of the first half when Bartman ran it in from the one-yard line as time expired to take a 28-7 lead into halftime. The touchdown was set up by 19-yard completion from Bloemendaal to Daren Gentry who then went out-of-bounds at the one-yard line with one second left.
Facing its largest deficit of the season, Morningside, after a Red Raider punt to start the half, made it a two-score game when Kasdorf threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Jon Halvorson that completed a 47-yard drive and used up under two minutes of clock. Northwestern was forced to punt on its next possession and Morningside capitalized with another score as Wegher reached the endzone on a 3-yard run to make 28-21 with 2:37 left in the third.
Northwestern managed one first down on its next possession but had to punt it away, giving Morninside the ball and a chance to tie the game. Needing a big play, the Raider defense delivered, as Greg Hegstad forced a Wegher fumble that was recovered by Jermaine Ambrose at the Morningside 23-yard line. Eight plays later,Julian Dittmann kicked a 34-yard field to put Northwestern on top, 31-21.
Two big plays, a run by Wegher and a 33-yard completion from Kasdorf to Joel McCabe gave the Mustangs a first down at the Northwestern 18-yard line. The Red Raiders forced another turnover, however, as Isaiah Twitty forced a Kasdorf fumble that was returned by Sam Van Ginkel for 27 yards. Two personal foul penalties on Morningside gave the hosts a first down at the Morningside 25-yard line and Northwestern took full advantage, scoring its final touchdown on a one-yard run by Bartman to go up 38-21.
Morningside scored for the final time on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Kasdorf to Kyle Schuck with five minutes left to make it a two-score game. The Mustangs then recovered an onside kick and drove down to the Northwestern 20-yard line but the Raider D sealed the victory when Twitty sacked Kasdorf on fourth down, giving the Mustangs its first regular season loss since 2011.
Northwestern totaled 322 yards on offense, led by Bartman, who recorded his 13th 100-yard game. Bartman moved into ninth place all-time with 26 career rushing touchdowns and in eighth place with 2,448 career rushing yards. Bloemendaal completed 15-of-29 pass attempts for 183 yards, using five different receivers. Bartman and Ben Green caught four passes each while Brice Byker and Daren Gentry had three catches. The Red Raiders offensive line did not give up a sack. Twitty led the Raider defense with 10.5 tackles, one forced fumble and one sack. Hegstad totaled 8.5 tackles and Ambrose had 7.5 tackles, a forced fumble and fumble recovery. Northwestern held the top-ranked Morningside offense to well below its 54.5 scoring average and forced five turnovers.
Morningside gained 512 yards on offense, led by Kasdorf who rushed for 73 yards and completed 21-of-33 passes for 319 yards and two touchdowns. Wegher rushed 20 times for 82 yards and two scores.
Northwestern will head to Fremont, Neb. to play Midland on Nov. 16 at 1pm.