SIOUX CITY -- Fresh off their 35-to-28 point victory over Benedictine College in Saturday night's NAIA Football National Championship in Daytona Beach, Florida, the Morningside football team came back to a small hero's welcome on campus.
Classes and finals ended Friday at Morningside, yet a crowd of around 50 cheered when the victorious Mustangs rolled onto campus shortly after 1 p.m., escorted by a fire truck and sheriff's vehicle. The team's plane landed at the Sioux Gateway Airport a little before 12:30 p.m..
Mustangs linebacker Joel Katzer and defensive back Klayton Nordeen rode atop the fire truck, carrying the trophy.
The Mustangs sealed their NAIA victory at Daytona Stadium with 1:29 left in the game, when National Player of the Year Trent Solsma threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Connor Niles.
Nordeen and Katzer said the team was ecstatic when they arrived at their Daytona Beach hotel Saturday night, in the hours after the undefeated team's first-ever national championship victory.
"It was a madhouse" at the hotel, Nordeen said.
"I didn't sleep," Katzer said.
The NAIA championship over, Katzer said team members face a new challenge back on campus.
"We've got to study for our finals," he said.
Morningside junior Jacob Holck, who waited patiently with the crowd for the team to arrive, said he's proud of all the team has accomplished.
"A lot of these guys are my classmates," Holck said. "They're exceptional."
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Solsma to Niles. Sound familiar?
Holck said he some moments of the game were surprising, but he never lost faith.
"I knew that Morningside would pull through," he said.
A football player himself in high school who wasn't able to play in college due to injuries, Holck said Morningside loves its sports.
SIOUX CITY -- Bob Roe's Point After was standing room only Saturday night.
"Sports are a huge part of campus culture," Holck said.
An official celebration of the team's victory will be held on campus at Morningside sometime in January.