SIOUX CENTER, Iowa — Even a good defense like Briar Cliff University can get tired, and the Dordt Defenders wore down the Chargers in the final 31 minutes.
Dordt’s offense was on the field for 47 minutes Saturday at Open Space Park, and the Defenders beat the Chargers 43-7 in the penultimate game of the regular season.
The Defenders (7-3) broke the Chargers defense in the final minute of the second quarter. Sure, the Defenders put points on the board before that, but they all came by way of field goals.
Dordt got into the red zone thrice on the Chargers’ defense, but they denied the Defenders a trip to the end zone.
Brett Zachman hit all four field goal attempts in the first half — from 34, 29, 26 and 21 yards — that gave the Defenders the lead, but Dordt coach Joel Penner knew the Defenders were about to break that door down.
“You want to finish in the end zone, but we knew we were going against a really stingy defense today,” Penner said. “They forced us deep to search on the (play) call sheet. We tried to go fast and tried to wear them down. We were able to hit some big pass plays, which helped.
“That first half, it was just like, ‘I’m so glad our kicker is hitting these things,’” Penner added. “We were getting three at a time, but we would have liked to have gotten seven at a time … it was a team win.”
Finally, with 16 seconds left in the second, Noah Clayberg found fellow Pella, Iowa, native Levi Jungling on a 2-yard fade route into the end zone.
That was the first of three offensive touchdowns on the day for the Defenders after trying four separate times previously.
The other two offensive touchdowns came in the second half, and both came on 2-yard carries. In the third quarter, Levi Schoonhoven ended a 5-play, 81-yard drive on a sweep to the left, then in the fourth quarter, Jungling won a footrace to the pylon on a reverse play.
The Defenders amassed 501 yards on the afternoon.
“They were on the field the whole game,” BCU coach Dennis Wagner said. “It’s not fair to them. I think we got worn down, and they got a couple big plays. We started to miss some tackles because we were tired and weren’t in position.”
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Dordt’s defense did a number on the Chargers, too.
The Defenders held the Chargers (5-5) to three total yards in the first half and 191 overall.
“Our defense was incredible,” Penner said. “I think we were dialed in. If you track our season, you look at Week 6, we didn’t play well, and we haven’t been the same team since. I think since that Northwestern game, we’ve had two consecutive shutouts, a 70-point win at Hastings, and then today. Last week, our guys were frustrated with how they played, and they wanted to get back to the dominant style of play that we’ve had.”
The Defenders got a defensive touchdown, and that came on an interception return from David Kacmarynski, as he picked off a Diontre Collins-Jones pass and took it 26 yards to the house.
Kacmarynski noticed that the running back was out a little wider than usual, then read Collins-Jones’ eyes throughout the play.
“I got off the ball, and the quarterback made a throw that I think he was going to make, and I made the catch,” Kacmarynski said.
Kacmarynski also had two fumble recoveries and two tackles for loss, equating to 14 yards.
“I think it was all about our hustle to the ball,” Kacmarynski said. “From the beginning, we knew we had to set the tone.”
In the first half, BCU went through 22 plays, but just couldn’t get anything going. The Chargers had minus-13 rushing yards, and new Chargers quarterback Diontre Collins-Jones was just 3-for-8 for 17 yards.
But, the Chargers got a big run play from Collins-Jones with about five minutes to play in the third quarter, and that led to a 22-yard touchdown pass to Rashad Brown.
Collins-Jones is the third Chargers member of the roster to play quarterback this season, and the season-opening quarterback, Preston Mulligan, is out with a concussion.
Wagner knows that Collins-Jones — as well as the whole BCU offense — was in a tough spot.
“He’s had two weeks of preparation and the season’s almost over, so it’s not fair to that young man either,” Wagner said. “We have another week to get better, go to Jamestown and have a winning season.”