SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – Trailing 17-0 with just over ten minutes in the fourth quarter, Midland University rallied on the road with 25 points over the final seven minutes to upset No. 14 Dordt University, 25-24, on Saturday afternoon.
“I’m so proud of our players and coaches,” said head coach Jeff Jamrog after the victory. “Our players gave a valiant effort today. It says a lot about their character to come back and win the game. We had some guys injured and everyone stepped up. It was probably the most remarkable win in my 34 years of coaching.”
Dordt scored twice in the opening quarter, the first completing a five-play, 28-yard drive that began after a Warriors’ interception. Their second score, a 25-yard field goal came with 14 seconds left in the opening quarter.
The scoreboard operator was idle during the middle quarters as Dordt took a 10-0 lead into halftime and then into the final quarter.
Dordt extended their lead to 17-0 on a nine-yard pass play with 10:07 left in the game. That capped off a quick four-play 53-yard drive and was the first of 39 total points scored between the teams, keeping the previously bored scorekeeper busy.
Midland broke through on the scoreboard on their next drive. Jared Quinonezconverted a 35-yard field goal with 6:38 left in the game. The ensuing kickoff, which Dordt presumed would be an onside kick attempt, was pooched over the top of the Defenders’ front line and a streaking Christian Rodriguez at the Dordt 19-yard line.
Three plays later, EJ Stewart found Austin Harris on a wheel route from 16 yards out for the Warrior’s first touchdown of the day. Quinonez’s kick made it 17-10 with 5:56 on the clock.
Dordt responded with a quick drive to go back up by 14 points. After moving the ball past midfield, they snuck a receiver behind the coverage and struck for a 44-yard touchdown pass with 4:48 remaining.
The Warriors were not going to roll over after battling to get back in the game. Dalton Tremayne caught a pass up the seam from Stewart on the first play of the drive and sprinted down the turf for a pick-up of 68 yards. Three plays later Stewart found Omuiri Garcia in the corner of the endzone. Garcia rose above the lone Dordt defensive back attempting to cover him and pulled it down for the touchdown. Quinonez’s PAT cut the score to 24-17 with 3:02 remaining.
After a big play by the Midland offense and special teams, it was the defense’s turn to step up and get the ball back for a last-chance drive.
Dordt was able to pick up a first-down and used up 1:31 of the game clock before punting the ball back to the Midland.
With 1:30 left in the game, Midland took over at their own 22-yard line, needing to drive 78-yards with just two timeouts.
The drive began with a modest nine-yard pass followed by two incompletions. That forced Midland to convert on a 4th-and-1 with 55 seconds. Brandon Blum rushed up the middle to pick up the first down, stopping the clock momentarily. They would spike the ball to fully stop it on first down.
Second down saw a scrambling Stewart throw the ball away and third down saw another incompletion but a pass interference by the Defenders set the Warriors up with a new set of downs.
Much to the dismay of the home crowd, Midland was granted new life with a first down near midfield with 36 seconds to go.
Stewart’s first-down pass was a little too far for his receiver to reel in but his second-down toss found Tremayne near the boundary. He quickly spun up the field to get extra yardage and stepped out at the 25-yard line with 20 ticks left on the game clock.
On second down, Stewart found Kenneth Carr III on the sideline at the seven-yard line but the play was negated as Carr had previously stepped out of bounds, making him an ineligible receiver.
After another incompletion on third down, Midland had 25 yards to get into the endzone and only two seconds on the clock. Their hopes of a comeback rested on one final play. Before that happened though, both teams would utilize a timeout before the last play of regulation.
Facing a four-man rush, Stewart lofted the ball up into the same corner of the endzone that Harris and Garcia caught their touchdowns. This time Carr rose above two Defenders to high-point the catch. On the way down the ball fumbled around in his hands but before he came to crashing to the ground, he had secured the pigskin in his hands for the touchdown.
The score pulled Midland within a point with no time on the clock. Leaving Coach Jamrog with the tough decision of going for the tie with a kick or for the win with the offense on the field.
Timeouts were once again called by both teams, building the drama in week one of Great Plains Athletic Conference play.
Midland elected to try and win the game and sent EJ Stewart and the offense onto the field.
The two-point PAT attempt saw the Warriors set up with an overloaded receiving package to the right. Steward took the snap and rolled that way, scanning the endzone for an open receiver. Austin Harris found a patch of open turf and Stewart jumped up and fired the ball to him just before reaching the sideline. The ball was corralled by Harris and the Warriors completed the improbable comeback from 17 points down to shock the Dordt crowd and excite their sideline which came spilling out onto the turf to celebrate.
Coach Jamrog had this to say about going for the win with the two-point try. “There was no doubt we were going for two…We’ve got momentum. Let’s not go to overtime. Great throw by EJ and catch by Austin. Knocking off No. 14 Dordt feels great. The last six minutes all three units had to hit on all cylinders and we did. Boy, what a game!”
Stewart finished the game with 18 completions on 46 attempts for 269 yards passing with 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Jake Ashby saw limited action behind center as well, throwing one pass that was picked off by Dordt, and ran the ball three times for four yards.
Dalton Tremayne and Kenneth Carr III were on the receiving end of four passes each. Tremayne’s long catch-and-run of 68 yards accounted for the majority of his 137 yards. Carr had 67 yards receiving with the one touchdown with zeros on the clock.
Austin Harris caught a team-high 5 passes for 37 yards with a score. Omuiri Garcia’s lone catch of six yards resulted in the third Warrior touchdown reception.
On the ground, Brandon Blum saw the bulk of the carries. He ran the ball 20 times for a net of 42 yards. Rickey Anderson had 17 yards on one carry before leaving with an injury.
Defensively, Trevor Havlovic had a total of 7 tackles to lead the team. He had 2.5 stops behind the line including 1.5 sacks. Chase Lipsys also had 1.5 sacks to go along with 5 stops. Travis Voight also recorded 5 tackles on the day.
In the takeaway battle, Courtney Chandler had the lone interception for the Warriors. He picked off a first-quarter passed and nearly turned into points, returning it 81 yards to the Midland 22-yard line.
“It didn’t look great when we were down 17-0 at the seven-minute mark,” Coach Jamrog reflected in his final thoughts. “Our guys made plays. KC Carr had that fourth-down catch. We had several players with big-time catches. We need our playmakers to step up and make plays and that’s what they did.”
Midland (1-1, 1-0 GPAC) will turn its attention now to No. 2-ranked Northwestern (2-0, 1-0 GPAC). They won their conference opener against Hastings College, 45-13, on Saturday. The kickoff between the Warriors and Raiders is set for 1:00 p.m. at Heedum Field in Fremont, Nebraska on Saturday, September 11.