Connor Van Hulzen – Staff Writer
The streak continues.
The Dordt University football team fell to the Northwestern College Red Raiders 28-63 on Saturday, extending their winless streak against their Orange City rival to eleven.
Northwestern—who entered the game ranked second in the NAIA Coaches’ Poll—showed exactly what it takes to earn a win. Their ruthless offensive efficiency combined with an ability to force timely turnovers slammed the door on Dordt’s efforts to beat their cross-county opponent for the first time ever.
Northwestern quarterback Tyson Kooima completed all 13 of his pass attempts, resulting in 283 yards through the air and six touchdowns.
Kooima’s performance earned him the distinction of GPAC Offensive Player of the Week. When combined with running back Konner McQuillan’s 130 yards and two touchdowns, the Raiders outpaced what the Defenders’ offense was able to produce.
“They played a really clean game offensively and did a great job of being able to both run and throw,” head coach Joel Penner said. “I haven’t personally seen our defense play that passively in five years. We certainly made it easier for them, and they did a great job.”
In regard to Dordt’s offensive performance, Penner said, “I was very pleased with how we were able to move the ball, but our four turnovers unfortunately compounded our poor defensive game.”
With two games left in their season, the loss to Northwestern results in Dordt holding a 5-3 record.
Last year, Dordt finished their regular fall season with a 7-2 record before beating Oklahoma Panhandle State in the spring, resulting in Dordt’s first-ever NAIA playoff berth.
Unfortunately for the Defenders, their current record will exclude them from participating in the playoffs this season.
“This game eliminated us from the postseason discussion,” Penner said. “While last year we thought we may have been eliminated, this year we know that there is no chance this season.”
Despite the elimination from playoff contention and failure to meet expectations, Penner is excited to see the outcome of the final two games against Briar Cliff and Jamestown.
“At this point in the season, these games will be a really good test of what motivates and drives our players,” he said. “I have full confidence in our team to respond really well and to play our best football. We aren’t playing ranked teams, but I still look forward to seeing what kind of competitors our players are.”
The Defenders await next year for another chance to outplay Northwestern.
Until then, they are focused on their upcoming competitions against Briar Cliff and Jamestown as they work to, once again, put themselves in a position to compete on the national stage in the NAIA playoffs.