MADISON, S.D. – Knotted 24-24 heading in the fourth-quarter Saturday afternoon at the Trojan Field, Briar Cliff (Iowa) scored 13 straight points in a span of 1 minute and 19 seconds and held off Dakota State 37-31 in a non-conference football game. It was the annual ‘Rushing for a Cure' football game to help raise cancer awareness.
Dakota State dropped their overall record to 2-5. Briar Cliff, a member of the Great Plains Athletic Conference, improved their record to 3-4. It was the first win for Chargers in the series meeting history (DSU and BC met for the third time in the series), which DSU had won the previous two meetings over BC.
BC got on board first by using 11 plays for 52 yards in 3 minutes and 13 seconds in the scoring drive. Kenny Thompson rushed for a 1-yard touchdown run and Alex Pujado's PAT kick was good to give Chargers a 7-0 lead with less than six minutes in the first quarter.
Dakota State tied the game right away on the first play of the second quarter. Facing a 3rd-and-3 situation for DSU, Cole Whisenhunt threw a 76-yard touchdown pass to Zach Ely – the longest pass this season for DSU – with 14:48 remaining before intermission. Tanner Hubbard added a successful PAT kick as the Trojans knotted the game at 7-7.
The Chargers went on to use 13 plays for 69 yards in 2:47 on the ensuing drive, but committed a turnover in the end zone. Austin Ross caught an interception to prevent BC to score as the Trojans retain possession with 12:01 left in the second quarter.
Starting on the own 20-yardline on the next drive for DSU, the Trojans went on to convert five consecutive first-downs to move the ball to the BC's 16-yardline. Hubbard kicked a 29-yard field goal to give Trojans their first lead at 10-7 with 8:32 remaining before halftime. DSU recorded 10 plays for 68 yards in 3:29 in the scoring drive.
The Chargers quickly scored after DSU's field goal. Mitch Heikes opened BC's drive on their own 29-yardline and rushed for 56 yards to DSU's 15-yardline. Pujado's 27-yard field goal was good as BC tied the game at 10-10 with 7:06 left in the first-half.
DSU could not convert their scoring opportunity near halftime. The Trojans used 14 plays, including a fake punt play on a fourth-and-13 situation on BC's 41-yardline with Josh Licht's 16-yard pass to Ely converting for a first-down. Whisenhunt's pass to Ely was intercepted by BC's Rasheed Tynes on BC's 14-yardline and returned for 24 yards to BC's 38-yard line with 23 seconds remaining before intermission.
The game was tied at 10-10 at halftime.
Both teams started the third quarter with three-and-out drives.
When Briar Cliff was forced to punt on their second drive of the third quarter (4th-and-13 on BC 37-yardline), Spencer Carlson blocked Rusty Muncy's punt and Cole Potter recovered the blocked punt on BC's 2-yardline with 10:53 remaining in the third quarter.
The Trojans would quickly score after the blocked punt as Whisenhunt rushed for a 2-yard touchdown run. Hubbard added a PAT kick as DSU regained their lead at 17-10 with 10:49 left in the third quarter.
The Chargers answered back right away as Kevin Van Egdom threw a 67-yard touchdown pass to Tyler McGhee with 10:12 left in third quarter. Pujado kicked a PAT kick to tie the game at 17-17.
DSU scored on the ensuing drive with 9 plays for 70 yards in 4:13 to earn their lead back for the third time in the game. The Trojans converted their 3rd-and-2 situation on BC 34-yardline as Kris Dearie rushed for 29 yards to BC 5-yardline. Whisenhunt ran for a 5-yard touchdown run. Hubbard's PAT kick was good to give Trojans a 24-17 lead with less than six minutes left in the third quarter.
The Chargers fumbled during the kick-off return. DSU's Carlson forced the fumble on McGhee and Cooper Hausman recovered the fumble on BC's 30-yardline. The Trojans could not convert their scoring chances as Briar Cliff recovered DSU's fumble on BC's 36-yardline with 3:34 left in the third quarter.
Briar Cliff would answer back from DSU's turnover to tie the game for the fourth time. Van Egodm connected to Lavon Wright for a 24-yard touchdown pass with 2:03 remaining in the third quarter. Pujado's PAT kick was good as the game was knotted at 24-24.
The Chargers started off the fourth quarter as Van Egdom rushed for a 11-yard touchdown run with 14:55 left. Pujado's PAT kick was no good as BC held on to a 30-24 lead.
DSU committed a turnover on the ensuing drive as the Chargers recovered Trojans' fumble on DSU's 11-yardline with less than 13 minutes remaining in the game.
BC extended their lead to 37-24 with 11:36 left in the game when Van Egdom threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Matt Harshman. Pujado added a PAT kick as the Chargers outscored the Trojans 13-0 to start the fourth quarter.
The Trojans began their drive on their own 37-yardline with 7:37 left in the game. Facing 3rd-and-9 on DSU's 41-yardline, Whisenhunt connected to Brendon Waldner for a 59-yard touchdown pass. Hubbard kicked a successful PAT kick as the Trojans cut Chargers' lead to 37-31 with less than seven minutes remaining.
On the next drive, Briar Cliff used 13 plays for 28 yards in 6:11 and did not score as DSU regained their possession on DSU's 13-yardline with 40 seconds left in the game.
Dakota State was unable to complete the comeback as the Chargers secured the game.
DSU's Whisenhunt converted 18 passes in 34 attempts for 282 yards. He threw two touchdowns and two interceptions. He rushed 15 times for 45 yards and recorded a rushing touchdown. Dylan VandeGarde added 12 rushes for 32 yards and a touchdown. Kris Dearie ran four times for 46 yards.
Ely caught four passes for a game-high 130 receiving yards with a touchdown for the Trojans. Bobby Tisch added six receptions for 58 yards.
Ben Kullos had 16 tackles for the Trojans, which tied for fourth most tackles in a single game in DSU Football record book. He had two tackles-for-loss of 3.7 yards. Chad John added 13 tackles, four tackles-for-loss of 4.7 yards, recorded a broken up pass and a forced fumble.
Licht had 11 tackles, including 4.5 tackles-for-loss of 22 yards. He had 3.5 quarterback sacks (for loss of 19 yards), which is just 0.5 sack short of tying a DSU school record for most quarterback sacks in a single game (4 by Paul Naughton versus Huron in 1989). Ridge Lindberg had a quarterback sack (for loss of 10 yards) and Tyler Poggemeyer added 0.5 sack (for loss of 2 yards).
Ronnie Jorgenson recorded seven tackles, including three tackles-for-loss of 7.7 yards. Ross had an interception and recorded two broken up passes.
Van Egdom was 18-for-40 for 314 yards with three touchdowns and an interception for the Chargers. Heikes rushed 19 times for 112 yards.
Harshman had four catches for 78 yards and a touchdown for BC. Bret Van Muyden added four receptions for 62 yards. McGhee had three receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown.
Eric Nicholsen and Tynes each had 10 tackles for the Chargers. Tynes had three tackles-for-loss of 18.5 yards. Eric Jones had 1.5 quarterback for loss of 11 yards.
Steven Trujillo had an interception and returned for 56 yards for BC. Tynes added an interception and returned for 24 yards.
Both teams were almost identically the same in statistics. The Chargers outgained the Trojans in total offense by just eight yards – 454-446.
DSU outrushed Briar Cliff 148-140. BC had 314 passing yards compared to the Trojans' 298 passing yards.
The Chargers had 22 first-downs, while DSU had 18 first-downs.
The Trojans had 32 minutes and 56 seconds of ball possession. Briar Cliff retain their possession for 27 minutes and 4 seconds.
BC converted 6-for-18 on third-downs compared to the Trojans' 4-for-16.
DSU had five fumbles in the game with three loss. Briar Cliff had four fumbles, but recorded one lost fumble.
Briar Cliff was whistled for 14 penalties for 126 yards. DSU had 12 penalties for 120 yards.
Prior the game, the DSU football team recognized their eight seniors on the team. John, Jorgenson, Licht, Perry King, Blake Kirschenman, Whisenhunt and VandeGarde played their final home collegiate football game at the Trojan Field.
Chase Casper returned back to Dakota State University to serve as the honorary football captain for the Trojans. He had been fighting cancer called T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) since the fall of 2012. Casper is currently in the Maintenance Phase, which allow him in transition into some normalcy. Casper conducted the coin toss as part of the ‘Rushing for a Cure' event.
Dakota State concludes their regular-season with two games remaining on the road. The Trojans look to get back in the winning column as they visit their former Dakota Athletic Conference member – South Dakota Mines. Kick-off from the O'Harra Stadium in Rapid City, S.D. is slated for 2 p.m. (Central Time)/1 p.m. (Mountain Time).