Caleb Pollema–Staff Writer
The Dordt Defenders opened their conference slate of the 2018 football season at home against the Doane Tigers on Saturday, September 15.
With the hot temperatures and high humidity, the contest was a grudge match for sixty minutes.
Dordt got off to a rough start with a lack of offensive production and found itself down 21-0 with four minutes remaining in the second quarter. That all changed when Dordt running back Noah Clayberg found a hole and raced 53 yards for a Dordt touchdown.
The Defenders headed into the locker room down 21-7 as the temperatures continued to climb.
The offense for both teams came to a screeching halt in the second half until Levi Schoonhoven broke free for a four-yard touchdown run to cut the Doane lead to 21-14.
Doane would respond with a field goal of its own on the next drive to extend the lead to 24-14.
But Dordt would not go away. Dordt quarterback Brock Lamlee lead the offense to another scoring drive that cut the lead to 24-21.
However, a last minute Dordt drive would fail to complete the comeback as a Lamlee pass was intercepted by the Doane defense to secure the win for the Tigers.
After a disappointing loss, the team gathered in the south endzone surrounded by Defender Nation for a postgame talk.
“What was the one word that we focused on all week?” Coach Penner asked his team after the tough loss.
The team responded in unison, “LOVE!”
This love was made evident immediately after the game as the team gave each other “attaways”, which is where one player stands up and praises another player for something they did well during the game.
After a difficult loss, the team resolved to not let one game get them down.
The team also urgently waits to hear the status of Noah Clayberg and Keithen Drury. Both running backs left Saturday’s contest with injuries.
Clayberg left the game in the third quarter after sustaining an apparent right foot injury. He was seen roaming the sidelines on crutches with a bag of ice on his foot. Drury also sustained a shoulder injury that prevented him from getting back into the game.
“Our players fought through adversity well and the character of our team is tremendous. It’s a disappointing finish, but we will bounce back strong,” said Coach Penner.
The Defenders will look to rebound next Saturday as they head to Hastings, Nebraska, to face the Hastings Broncos who are 2-1 overall after losing their conference opener to Briar Cliff last Saturday.
Despite the grueling loss, the Defenders look eager to prove that they can live up to the expectations of this year with a great performance next Saturday.
“We know what our goals are for this season, but more importantly, we know why we strive for those goals,” said wide receiver Josh de Jong.
The game against Hastings is set for 1pm start. The Defenders return home the following Saturday to face the Concordia Bulldogs.