Just three weeks remain in 2012 football season and the final Saturday of October features a full slate of five GPAC games. B. Lynn Fouts breaks down the games this week in the VSN/GPAC Football Preview for Week Nine.
There was a lot of movement in the standings once the dust had settled on week eight of GPAC football. Concordia dropped a defensive struggle with NWU 16-6 and Doane fell to DWU 28-24 in the final few moments. Morningside separated themselves from the field and claimed sole possession of first place with a 53-23 victory on the road in Hastings. Northwestern rebounded in fine fashion with a 57-7 win over BCU. Dordt put up its first win on the year, 24-7 over Dakota State and Midland went all the way to North Dakota to secure another win, 40-20 at Mayville State. Big games remain, especially this Saturday night with another match-up of ranked teams looking for that post season spot.
Nebraska Wesleyan visits Briar Cliff this weekend looking to move their overall record to .500. The Prairie Wolves stopped Concordia's four-game win streak with a superior defensive effort led by defensive back Cody Eiler's three interceptions, one in the end zone in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Tyler Francis tied a NWU passing record with 28 completions on his way to 256 yards and a score. Briar Cliff was unfortunate to run into a re-focused Northwestern last week and gave up nearly 500 yards on the ground. Running back Robert Wilson had another solid outing with 73 yards, but the Charger offense gained just 154 on the day. Kickoff at 1pm.
Midland travels to Seward to face Concordia. MU ended their four game losing skid by defeating Mayville State of North Dakota 40-20. Warrior quarterback Mike Karls accounted for 265 total yards and four touchdowns. As he has gotten more experience, MU has improved their offense, averaging 25 points per game in the past three games as opposed to just ten a game in their first four contests. Concordia will go for win number five, a high water mark in the Vance Winter era. Quarterback Von Thomas was held in check last weekend going just 15 of 38 with three picks, but the defense had another good game. Kickoff at 1pm.
Dordt travels down Highway 75 to visit #4 Morningside after cruising to its first win of the season. The Defenders controlled the ball for more than 37 minutes and played keep-a-way from Dakota State's excellent signal caller, Brandon Large. The offense must generate the same kind of possession strategy this weekend in Sioux City. The Mustangs went on the road and put themselves in the driver's seat for the conference crown, beating Hastings 53-23. However, the Broncos put up the most points and most yards passing allowed to date by the NAIA's top ranked defense. QB Joel Nixon threw for 390 yards and five scores for the first place Mustangs. Kickoff at 1pm.
#18 Hastings tries to regroup with a match-up with longtime foe Doane in Crete. The two longest playing rivals in the GPAC, they square off for the 111th time this Saturday. Hastings leads the series 52-48-10 with nine consecutive victories. The most recent Bronco win might have hurt the worst. Last year, the Tigers were sitting at 7-1 and aiming straight at the NAIA post season when they fell 19-17 out West. This year, the roles have been reversed; will Doane play spoiler to the Broncos' hopes of late November play? Both have above average quarterbacks: Hastings' John Dostal and Doane's Jeff Weander. Dostal has a bit of the edge on experience. The run games are similar behind the Broncos' Keenan Ballage and the Tigers' Clayton Moore. The edge on offense goes to Hastings. On defense, though the Tigers have better numbers with linebacker Jeremy Wallace and Joe Knott leading the way. If the game comes down to the wire as it did in 2011's contest, special teams will play a big part and so far the Broncos have show up much better in field goal kicking and net punting. Kickoff at 1pm.
#16 Northwestern has a night game scheduled with #25 Dakota Wesleyan as the wind blows in off the Rockies. Cabela's could be a popular pregame stop as fans gear up for a frigid Saturday night in Mitchell. Northwestern let out some frustration against BCU while DWU came from behind again to keep their hopes alive. Northwestern will want to get out and run the ball, they're the best in the league and 4th in the NAIA. Brandon Smith has 945 yards and Theo Bartman 789. Quarterback Davis Bloemendaal has been solid this fall. On defense, the Red Raiders have Defensive player of the year candidate Jordan Carlson 6-4 290 plugging the middle and a fleet of big linebackers. The Tigers will counter with their own run game behind Josh Endres 987 yards and a quarterback who, when healthy, has produced big numbers, Jonathan Bane 1600 yards passing and 16 scores. The tie for third place will be broken and the outcome will hinge on the DWU defense. Kickoff at 7pm.
-B. Lynn Fouts