SIOUX CITY, IOWA – Belief.
Remembering back to his introduction of M-Club Hall of Fame inductee Mike Winklepleck ’07, Mustangs Head Coach Steve Ryan had similar thoughts after a rousing 69-7 win in front of a large and appreciate crowd at Elwood Olsen Stadium. “That ideal of believing in each other … the college … this football program … it continues that way now (just as it did back then),” he noted. “It was a wonderful opportunity to be a part of Mike’s day and then to come out and have the team perform the way they did.”
After the two sides traded scores early in the first quarter, MC’s trademark offensive attack was on display throughout the remainder of the picture postcard fall afternoon. Senior quarterback Trent Solsma (Dakota Dunes, S.D.) and classmate Connor Niles (Sioux City, Iowa) connected four times on scoring strikes, as Solsma had another remarkable numbers day, going 24 of 34 for 449 yards, to extend a run of nine consecutive contests with 300-or-more yards, and five touchdowns. Niles was at the forefront of the receiving corps with 11 catches for 288 yards but he was one of four Maroon and White players to receive paydirt passes from Solsma and freshman Joe Dolincheck (Bellevue, Neb.). Junior Bo Els (Erie, Colo.); senior Addison Ross (Carroll, Iowa); and freshman tight end Sione Tuifua (Barrow, Alaska) also helped put points on the board with a touchdown reception each. The ground game was also firing on all cylinders, as the sophomore duo of Arnijae Ponder (Omaha, Neb.) and Anthony Sims (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) each rushed for a score. Ponder tallied his fourth 100-yards-or-more effort, going for 152 on 30 carries.
“We talked all week about focus … taking one game at a time,” Ryan said. “That type of thing is part of their own personal goals … understanding that we needed to be ready to go against a good team.
“It was a great environment,” he added. “Homecoming is always a great atmosphere, and, add to that, we were in new uniforms. I told the guys ‘You are going to look good, so you need to play good.’”
Ryan also came away impressed with a defensive effort that saw the home team limit the Tigers to just 90 total yards, register six sacks, and turn in two takeaways. Junior linebacker Jacob Katzer (Wellsville, Kansas) led the bedrock bunch with three sacks and 10 total tackles, while senior defensive back Xavier Spann (Lakeland, Fla.) and junior defensive back Deion Clayborne (Sioux City, Iowa) registered an interception apiece.
The Mustangs (7-0 overall, 5-0 GPAC) take to the road Saturday, Oct. 20, for a key showdown against third-ranked Northwestern College of Iowa. Kickoff at De Valois Stadium in Orange City is 1 p.m.