GPAC football rolls into week seven of the season with another four game slate on the agenda for this Saturday. B. Lynn Fouts looks back to week six and breaks down week seven in the GPAC Football Preview for Week Seven from VSN.
Fourth ranked Morningside continued its winning ways with a 28-3 victory on the road last Saturday in Crete against Doane. 17th ranked Hastings took the week off from league play and defeated independent Dakota State 55-19 in South Dakota. Number eleven Northwestern kept pace with the leaders with a 39-20 win over Midland in Orange City. Concordia won its third in a row 45-12 over Briar Cliff in Sioux City. Dakota Wesleyan (#19) shook off their first loss with a 45-30 rebound over Dordt in Mitchell.
Dakota State handed Briar Cliff a loss in Madison last fall, but the Chargers have been close to breaking through this year. Briar Cliff had been competitive in every game until last Saturday when they gave up over 330 yards against Concordia on the ground and turned the ball over five times. Since he took over the majority of the carries three games ago, running back Robert Wilson is averaging over 80 yards per game. Quarterback Quiroga has thrown for 1200 yards and ten scores since he was forced into action in game two. Look for some offense in this one at Memorial Field in Sioux City.
Eleventh ranked Northwestern visits Concordia and will try to avoid a trap game on the Bulldogs homecoming. The host Bulldogs have revamped the offense to the point they are scoring on everyone, averaging 35 points per game, good for 15th in the NAIA. Quarterback Von Thomas continues to lead the offense while Derek Blessing (punt returns) and Kenny Zoeller (place-kicking) lead the GPAC special team rankings. The Red Raiders counter with a ferocious pass rush highlighted by four members in the top nine of the league's sack category. On offense, Northwestern will try to run right at Concordia as they lead the league at 250 yards per game behind Brandon Smith and Theo Bartman. If Von Thomas can find time to throw, this could go down to the wire at Bulldog Stadium.
Nebraska Wesleyan at Dordt finds two teams tired of being close. Nebraska Wesleyan has dropped two games by less than a score, one in overtime (against Northwestern). Dordt has played with leads in the past two games. The Prairie Wolves sat out last weekend and may make a switch at quarterback with transfer Tyler Francis seeing most of the action against Northwestern two weeks ago. Dordt will need to control the clock and keep the points coming as they've averaged 30 points per game the last two outings.
Dakota Wesleyan takes their 19th ranking south to tackle #4 Morningside this weekend in Sioux City. The Tiger offense has been rolling up the yardage, over 465 yards a game. They boast the top rusher in the NAIA in Josh Endres at 164 yards per game and quarterback Jonathan Bane tops the league in multiple categories. The Tiger defense has been down this year but has come up big in nearly every game. Morningside has rallied around quarterback Joel Nixon, a three-year wide receiver who answered the call this fall to return under center. The run game behind Fred Jones, Jon Halverson and Josh Gaedke has been solid at 180 yards a game. It is the Mustang defense that has set this team apart, ranking 1st in the NAIA in points and rushing yards allowed, 5.4 and 43 per game respectively. Defense could be key in this one at Olsen Stadium.
Hastings (#17) and Midland once again contest for the rights to the McLaughlin-Watchorn Trophy named after famous coaches at each school. The Broncos rolled in the second half last week and bring a big time offense to Fremont. Midland has struggled to score points this fall reaching beyond seven points in only two of its five contests. The Warriors defense has been good for the most part, led by senior linebacker Clete Vrbka. This will an old fashioned slugfest from the old days in Fremont.
-B. Lynn Fouts