SIOUX CITY – There was no overlooking, there was no trap game.
The top-ranked Morningside football team took care of business just as it has the six previous times it stepped on the field this season –- in convincing fashion. The Mustangs overwhelmed Doane to earn a 69-7 homecoming victory at Olsen Stadium on Saturday.
It was led as it has been most of this season by quarterback Trent Solsma and wide receiver Connor Niles, who combined for three first-half touchdowns and four for the game.
“Being my third year starting I feel really comfortable with the offense and obviously I have a lot of great security outlets," said Solsma, who finished with with 449 yards through the air. "I can go to Connor and he is going to be open, Bo (Els), Jared Myers, I have number of weapons on offense I feel comfortable going to at any time."
Morningside, which wore new black uniforms with maroon trim, improves to 7-0 overall and 5-0 in the GPAC to set up a showdown Saturday with fellow unbeaten and third-ranked Northwestern in Orange City.
“The guys stayed focused and locked in," said Morningside coach Steve Ryan of his team's performance. "You sometimes forget about it but the last time we lost a conference game was to Doane. I do think in that regard our guys were locked into Doane.
"(Northwestern) is an outstanding football team and we are going to both be in the top three. They didn't play this week so they will be fresh, they had an extra week to prepare, and we have to get back to work and prepare."
Solsma, who became the school’s all-time touchdown pass leader a week ago, was at it again against the Tigers throwing for five TDs. He has yet to throw an interception this season.
The two teams traded touchdowns to begin the game before Morningside took over as Solsma hit Niles from eight yards out to give the Mustangs a lead they never relinquished going up 14-7. That was followed by a 28-yard touchdown pass between the two less than a minute into the second quarter.
The final connection of the first half for the former Bishop Heelan standouts came as the Mustangs faced a second-and-17 only to see the duo connect on a 64-yard TD pass.
Niles had his own big week last Saturday when he set a new Morningside record with eight catches for 307 yards. He finished with 11 receptions for 288 yards in three quarters of work against the Tigers.
Solsma would go on to hit Addison Ross on a 27-yard touchdown strike and Jared Amundson hit on a 28-yard field goal before the first half was over.
Morninside had 469 yards of offense in the first half, which included running back Arnijae Ponder going for 99 yards on the ground. He would add a touchdown from four yards out in the third quarter and finish with 152 yards on 30 carries.
With all the offensive fireworks it was not hard to overlook the dominating performance put forth by the Morningside defense. Doane (3-3, 2-3) managed just 90 yards in the game as the defense put constant pressure on the Tiger quarterbacks. Starter Jack Kalina was knocked out of the game in the second quarter as Jacob Katzer and Seth Maitlen combined for two sacks each in the opening 30 minutes.
Katzer finished with three sacks and a team-leading 10 tackles. Dominick Barrett added the final of the six sacks on the day.
"The first drive woke us up more ... but it just came down to playing physical and playing our type of football," Maitlen said. "We want to get to the quarterback as many times as we can and make sure he feels it."
The secondary also got into the act with a pair of impressive interceptions. The first came from senior Xavier Spann who picked off Kalina with one hand to record an ESPN Top 10 impressive catch. Safety Deion Clayborne added a nice over-the-shoulder pick in the second half.
"I just saw the ball in the air and I wanted it," said Spann of the pick. "I was trying to knock it down, but I just went ahead and grabbed it when I saw he just floated it out there. I gripped it and just ended up pinning it on my back."
The Mustangs did struggle to start the second half with a punt, having to settle for a field goal from the 1-yard line and a lost fumble on its first three possessions. Those troubles ended when Solsma and Niles connected on a 70-yard TD pass to make it 48-7.
The final scores of the game came with Morningside resting most of its starters in the fourth quarter. Backup quarterback Joe Dolincheck hit Els for a 51-yard catch and run and then found Sione Tuifua from two yards out.