FREMONT, Neb. – (RV) Midland University celebrated Senior Day as they concluded their 2018 campaign on Saturday, taking on (RV) Dordt College. Unfortunately, the Warriors couldn’t send the seniors off with a win, falling 27-21 to the Defenders in the season finale.
With temperatures in the high-teens and snow still lingering on the turf, playing conditions weren’t exactly ideal for both teams. The passing game suffered the most, as each team only completed five passes each for a total of 123 passing yards in the game (91 Dordt, 32 Midland).
Instead, it was a pair of running backs that stole the show. The Defenders benefited from a huge day from Keithen Drury, who finished with a 157 rushing yards on 26 attempts. Drury started the scoring on Dordt’s first possession of the game, capping a 75-yard scoring drive with a three-yard touchdown run, his only score on the day.
For Midland, it was junior Keenan Smith who carried the offense, rushing 23 times for 216 yards and two touchdowns. Since being moved from safety to running back a month ago, Smith was the best running back the Warriors had, giving the offense something to build off of going into his senior season.
Four other Midland ball carried totaled just 86 yards, 26 coming from junior Gary Cannon, who was also 1-2 passing on the afternoon.
Quarterback Noah Oswald concluded an up and down season with a highlight of his own, rushing for his first touchdown of the year. Oswald finished the day just 4-15 passing in the difficult conditions.
After taking over for Payton Nelson in the Dakota Wesleyan game Oswald went 1-2 as a starter at quarterback, beating Doane in Crete to secure a sweep of Nebraska GPAC schools for Midland, the first time the feat had been accomplished since 2010.
Defensively, Midland was led again by junior linebacker Jett Hampton, who finished with 10 total tackles. Each of Midland’s next six leading tacklers were seniors, playing their final games at Heedum Field. Those players included Tyler Blanco, Wyatt Tremayne, Soga Eli, Zach Gates, Tyler Koch, and Johan Williams.
Midland had to play from behind the whole first half. After Drury’s touchdown run in the first quarter, Jordan Weiland intercepted Oswald and returned it 30 yards for another Defenders touchdown, putting Dordt up 13-0.
Oswald responded and drove the Warriors 91 yards down the field on their next possession, capping the drive with his one-yard touchdown rush.
Out of halftime, the Warriors came out swinging again, scoring on their first possession of the third quarter. The whole drive was Smith, who rushed three times for 64 total yards, including a 10-yard touchdown rush that put Midland ahead 14-13 after the extra point from Camdon Griffiths.
The Defenders bounced right back and scored on each of their next two possessions on a one-yard rush from Lev Schoonhoven and a 23-yard pass from Brock Lamle to Levi Jungling. Dordt led 27-14 midway through the third quarter.
Midland scored again before the third quarter ender, and again it was Smith who ran one in from 39 yards out. That play was set up by a forced fumble from Gates, recovered by Ashton Ellis.
Both defenses held for the rest of the game, giving Dordt the 27-21 victory. Oswald was intercepted on the Warrior’s final drive by Nathan Kabongo, his second of the game, to seal the win.
2018 was another winning season for the Warriors under head coach Jeff Jamrog. Since taking over the helm of the program he has guided Midland to three straight winning seasons. The Warriors’ 20 wins over that time is tied for third best in the GPAC behind Morningside (34) and Northwestern (22).