Morningside Triumphs in Semifinal Rematch
SIOUX CITY (KTIV) -Last season, Northwestern and Morningside met in the NAIA semifinal game in Sioux City, with Northwestern winning a shootout 44-41. In November the two met in the regular season with a GPAC championship on the line, and Morningside won a shootout 55-49. So coming into the semifinal matchup many thought they would be in for another wild ride of a game.
They were certainly right about that.
Northwestern started off the scoring when they drove down the field and drilled a field goal to take a 3-0 lead. Morningside then responded when Joe Dolincheck connected with Zach Norton on a seam route for a touchdown to make it 7-3 Mustangs.
Later in the first the Red Raiders would take the lead back when Tyson Kooima slung one to Cade Moser from 40 yards out to make it 10-7. Before adding a field goal to close out the first quarter and make it a 13-7 ball game.
In the second Morningside stormed right back putting together a 9 play 64 yard drive ending with a Matt Strecker touchdown from a yard out. The Red Raiders would close out the half on top though after an Eli Stader 35 yard field goal made it 16-14.
It would not take long for the Mustangs to bounce back as in the third Dolincheck found Alaska native Sione Tuifua in the endzone to go up 21-16. After a Red Raider drive stalled they would settle for a field goal and make it 21-19.
Down two, Northwestern got a defensive stop and proceeded to drive down the field into the redzone before Jamal Jones intercepted a Kooima pass in the endzone to end the Red Raider threat.
Morningside took that interception and pieced a 15 play 80 yard drive together which drained the clock and extended the lead after Matt Strecker rumbled in from a yard out to make it 28-19.
“You find out what your made of against really good teams and that’s a good football team, It really hurts losing for them now that they go on I hope they win it all,” says Matt McCarty Northwestern head coach. “I’m proud of our guys you know our senior class has meant so much to this program.”
“Sooner or later one of these games was going to go this way and be a defensive game. I felt weather had a little bit to play with it,” says Morningside head coach Steve Ryan. “but, our defense was phenomenal the turnovers they created the way they played in the red zone it was huge.”
“I say it all the time every single running back on our roster, we stay locked in all season and really any of us could start if we get the opportunity,” says Matt Strecker Morningside senior. “Today it just so happened to be me that got most of the reps and I’m glad I was able to do what I needed to do in order to get us back to the national championship.”
Morningside will face off against the Grand View Vikings in the championship game. That will be played on December 18th in Durham, North Carolina at Durham County Memorial Stadium.
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