FREMONT, Neb. – It took more than 60 minutes to settle the score, but the (RV) Midland University football team escaped its Homecoming game with a win.
The Warriors (4-1, 2-1 GPAC) defeated the Jamestown Jimmies (1-5, 0-4) by a final score of 35-28 on a cold and wet Heedum Field turf on Saturday. Jordan Jackson’s 12-yard touchdown reception from Payton Nelson in overtime proved to be the winning score.
The Jimmies came up empty on their ensuing possession as safety Brock Larsen deflected a fourth down pass attempt to put an end to the back-and-forth contest.
“I’m really impressed with how (Jamestown) played,” said Midland head coach Jeff Jamrog. “It was a battle the whole game, first time I’ve had overtime here at Midland.”
The first ever gridiron matchup in school history proved to be a classic. Jamestown entered Saturday’s contest eyeing their first ever Great Plains Athletic Conference win, while Midland was hoping to use the game as a tune-up for next week’s matchup with No. 2 Morningside College.
Out of the gates, it looked like we would be in for a shootout. Midland worked quickly on its first drive as senior Lukas Vopnford capped off a seven-play, 73-yard scoring drive with a five-yard rushing touchdown to give the Warriors an early 7-0 lead.
The Jimmies would respond and opened the second quarter with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Mann to Barry Williams, Jr., tying the game at 7-7.
Jamestown scored again just two minutes later to take a 14-7 lead. Nelson was picked off by Andrew Jensen deep in Warriors’ territory, setting up a one-yard rushing touchdown from Mann.
The Warriors got a big play of their own from senior receiver Mike Seawell, who returned a punt 58 yards to the Jamestown 16-yard line. That led to another touchdown from Vopnford, this time a one-yard rush that tied the game at 14-14 at halftime.
Sewell had two punt returns on the day totaling 68 yards. His numbers could have been even better, but another big return was negated by a block in the back penalty.
Jamestown took advantage of a Midland mistake to take a 21-14 lead into the fourth quarter. The Warriors appeared to get good field position after a poor punt, but an offsides penalty gave the Jimmies new life.
The Jimmies converted on a 4th-and-3 to keep their drive alive, and later scored as Mann found Marcus Giles for a four-yard touchdown grab.
Trading blows in the fourth quarter, Midland tied the game at 21-21 as Nelson hit Jackson for a 12-yard touchdown pass. This came after Nelson fell a yard short of a touchdown on Midland’s previous drive, but the defense forced a three-and-out and a bad punt from Jamestown to set up the score.
Both the Jimmies and Warriors would score on their next drives. Jamestown retook the lead on an 11-yard catch from Nick Thompson before Midland tied the score again as Nelson ran one in himself from one yard out.
With more than seven minutes to play in regulation, neither team could retake control. The Warriors squandered two chances late in the game as Nelson was picked off at the one-yard line by Cedric Terry with 2:33 to play before Nelson and Adrian Kellogg bobbled a handoff, leading to a fumble recovery for Andre Purnell with less than a minute to play.
Jamestown won the coin toss to start overtime, electing to play defense first. Midland took the 35-28 lead on their first possession and held on for the Homecoming victory.
Midland got a boost on offense from Kellogg, who finished the day with 117 yards rushing on 16 carries, all of which came in the second half and overtime. Kellogg averaged 7.3 yards per carry, even in the damp conditions.
“Very impressed with the way Adrian ran today, he looked like a man possessed out there,” Jamrog said. “He’s got a bright future. He’s one of the most powerful guys we have on our team, and he’s very explosive as well.”
The Warriors defense bent but did not break against the Jimmies and held tough late in the game when they needed stops the most. Senior linebacker Wyatt Tremayne led the Warriors with nine total tackles, followed by Zach Gates and Brock Larsen with eight each. Junior safety Ashton Ellis led all tacklers with six solo stops.
Difficult conditions and a hungry opponent nearly led to a Homecoming letdown, but the Warriors found a way to win, something that good teams have to do when their backs are against the wall.
“It’s tough to win college football games every week. We call it the grind, you have to grind every week,” Jamrog said. “It’s going to be easy to get their (Warriors) attention because we’ve got a heck of a football team coming in next week.”
The Warriors face their biggest challenge of the season next week when they play host to No. 2 Morningside College. Kickoff from Heedum Field is set for 1:00 p.m. in Fremont, Nebraska.