The Doane College football team has seen improvement each week through their first two games. The Tigers fell 73-0 to Morningside College and 46-7 to Nebraska Wesleyan University, both ranked opponents. Doane started both of those games on defense but would take the field offensively first against Dakota Wesleyan.
Doane took the opening kickoff to the 30 yard line. After a Michael Vargas two-yard carry, Maurice Smith picked up a 10-yard rush on his first attempt. JR Artozqui connected with Robert Phillips for a 9-yard reception to move into Dakota Wesleyan territory. After an incomplete pass and a Doane timeout, Smith rumbled 47 yards for a touchdown on the opening drive.
On Dakota Wesleyan's opening drive, the DWU Tigers took advantage of three Doane penalties and marched down the field for a touchdown in 11 plays. DWU received a defensive holding penalty against Doane after an incomplete pass and later converted on a fourth down conversion. DWU went 67 yards to tie the game 7-7.
On the ensuing kickoff, D'Artagnan Dai'Re went 81 yards, cutting from the left side of the field to the right side, for a touchdown. Dai'Re finished with 147 kickoff return yards on three attempts.
DWU took their next drive 46 yards as Sergio Leon converted on a 37-yard field goal. Quarterback Jon Doom connected with Juan Magallon for a 50-yard pass to set-up the field goal attempt.
Following the field goal, Dai'Re took the kickoff to the Doane 49-yard line. A DWU penalty added 15 yards and put the Tigers at Dakota Wesleyan's 36. On the first play, Smith took a carry right up the middle for a touchdown to put Doane ahead 20-10. He ended the day with 116 yards on the ground.
After exchanging possessions, Dakota Wesleyan took over at the Doane 46 with 2:13 remaining in the first quarter. One play later, DWU closed the gap to 20-17 after Doom connected with Bubba Slaba for a 40-yard touchdown.
Dakota Wesleyan took their first lead of the game early in the second quarter when Alan Swartz took a carry for five yards and a touchdown. DWU went 89 yards on 11 plays in 3:06 to take a 24-20 lead. Doane gave 30 yards to DWU on penalties during the drive.
Doane used the arm of Artozqui to propel them to a touchdown in the final seconds of the first half. With two minutes remaining, Doane took possession. Artozqui connected with Luke Burson and Antony Ritton on back-to-back plays to get into the DWU red zone. After a Smith carry took Doane to the three yard line, Artozqui tried to toss a ball up to Landon Freitag. The pass fell incomplete but DWU was called for a hold. With the ball at the one yard line, Artozqui once again went Freitag's way and connected for a go-ahead touchdown heading into halftime.
Doane totaled 259 total yards in offense in the first half. In the first two games, Doane had only totaled 269 total yards. The Tigers used an aggressive running game that posted 160 yards on 20 carries for an average of 8.0 yards per carry.
DWU took the opening drive of the third quarter down the field in seven plays for a touchdown to take a 31-27 lead. Bubba Slaba had a 26 yard run on a receiver reverse to key the drive.
Doane put together a strong drive following the lead change but Artozqui was intercepted in the end zone. The Tigers had gone eight plays for 31 yards prior to the turnover.
The Tigers took possession with 5:18 left in the third quarter. They would not let go of the ball until the 13:01 mark in the fourth quarter. When they gave the ball back to Dakota Wesleyan, Doane had regained their lead 33-31. Doane went 70 yards on 16 plays while grounding out 7:17 off the clock. The Tigers used 12 rushing attempts during the drive, the longest was 11 yards by Jaremy Puthoff. Puthoff finished the game with 51 yards on the ground and the game-winning touchdown.
As expected, Dakota Wesleyan wasn't going to go quietly. DWU drove down to the Doane 25 but a third down tackle by Ben Baer resulted in a five yard loss. DWU went for it on fourth down and Doom's pass fell to the ground incomplete.
After Doane was forced to punt, Dakota Wesleyan took possession at their own 20. In less than three minutes, DWU had marched down the field to the Doane 25 and were in position for the go-ahead field goal. However, Leon's attempt sailed just to the right and Doane survived another push by Dakota Wesleyan.
DWU would get one more opportunity to drive down field, but it would not be easy as they were pinned at their own nine yard line following a 44-yard punt by Josh Warren. Dakota Wesleyan picked up 27 yards on their first two plays and were making a move towards Doane territory. However, on first down, Toby Hite came from the back-side and sacked Doom, who fumbled it but was able to get it back. Doom followed up with a complete to get back to the original line of scrimmage and an incomplete pass. On fourth down, Doom tried to connect with Jesse Ayers but Hite dove in front of the pass to knock it down to the ground, solidifying Doane's victory. Hite finished the game with five tackles and one pass break-up.
Doane finished with 400 yards of total offense, 270 on the ground. The Tigers lost more yards (six) in the rushing column from kneeling on the ball in the final two plays than they had on the previous 47 attempts (four).
Artozqui complete six passes for 99 yards. Bryan Dutcher, who filled in for Artozqui when he was out with a leg injury, completed 3-of-5 for 31 yards. Ritton and Phillips had two receptions each as seven different receivers had a catch.
The Doane defense held Dakota Wesleyan under 400 yards in total offense. They were led in tackles by Pat Spangler for the second straight game. He ended with 11 tackles, six solo. Josh Warren added 10 tackles.
Doane will now face their toughest competition of the year when they travel to the University of Sioux Falls on September 29. Kick-off is set for 1:00 in Sioux Falls, S.D.