FREMONT, Neb. – Midland University’s football team is at a crossroads after dropping its third straight game on Saturday to previously winless Missouri Baptist. It was just a couple of weeks ago when the Warriors nearly upset then-No. 11 Northwestern College, and things haven’t gone their way since.
The Warriors (1-3 overall) never could pull away from the Spartans (1-4 overall) as the visitors escaped with a 47-44 win for their first victory of the 2019 season.
“Give them credit, they came in here and played well,” said Midland head coach Jeff Jamrog. “It’s disappointing, we had our chances in all three phases. This is a tough one to swallow because we played our worst game today.”
After two quarters of football, not many people in attendance would have thought the game would end up being so high-scoring. But with 43 total points scored in the third quarter alone, the game quickly turned into a barn burner.
Each team scored once in the opening period, both on three-yard pass plays. Missouri Baptist scored first on a John Lux pass to Isaiah King, followed by a Midland score as senior Payton Nelson found sophomore Dalton Tremayne.
The Spartans found the endzone twice in the second quarter, both on runs from Chris Baldwin. Midland got another passing touchdown, this one going to junior wide receiver Colby Stevens, the first of his career. Stevens led the Warriors with five catches and 51 receiving yards in the game.
Both offenses began to click in the third quarter as seven consecutive possessions resulted in touchdowns. Midland started the scoring and took a 21-20 lead on a five-yard pass to Garry Cannon, the first of three touchdowns for him in the game.
Missouri Baptist moved the ball at will in the quarter and did it through the air and on the ground. The Spartans set the tone for the half as Michael Malone returned the insuring kickoff from Cannon’s touchdown all the way back for a 93-yard touchdown. Despite pulling a quad muscle around the Midland 20-yard line, Malone found the endzone to put Missouri Baptist up 27-21.
Cannon broke loose on Midland’s next possession for a 65-yard rushing touchdown. Shortly after, Baldwin found the endzone for the third time on the day and Missouri Baptist went back up 33-28. Colin Black’s extra-point attempt was blocked and returned by sophomore Travis Voight for a two-point play that made the score 33-30.
Midland scored on its next possession as Nelson found sophomore Austin Harris for an 18-yard touchdown, but again, the Spartans wasted no time in responding as Lux and King hooked up for a 48-yard pitch and catch touchdown to retake the lead at 40-37.
The Warrior’s next drive spilled into the fourth quarter and ended with Cannon’s third touchdown, this one a rush from 10 yards out to put Midland ahead 44-40. On the next Spartan possession, defensive back Christian Harmon came up with a big interception, the third of the season for the senior, to get Midland the ball back.
After Midland’s drive stalled out near midfield, the Spartans capitalized and out the finishing touches on their first win as Baldwin found the endzone for the fourth time in the game, putting Missouri Baptist up 47-44.
On Midland’s final possession, Nelson was forced to scramble on fourth down and lunged for the first-down marker as he went out of bounds near the Missouri Baptist 42 yard line. He was marked a yard short and the Spartans took over with just under three minutes to play.
“That’s about what the day looked like, we were always a yard short or a step slow,” Jamrog said.
Lux finished 23-for-36 on the day, throwing for 337 yards and two touchdowns. Both scores and 164 yards went to King, who caught 10 passes on the day. Baldwin found the endzone four times on 28 rushing attempts as he finished with 133 yards on the ground.
For Midland, Nelson was 16-for-31 for 169 passing yards and four touchdowns to four different receivers. Cannon emerged as the star for Midland as he rushed 24 times for 214 yards while scoring three total touchdowns. He also caught two passes for 16 yards.
Despite an interception and a pair of sacks from the Midland defense, 504 yards of offense for the Spartans proved to be too much and ultimately made the difference.
With Homecoming on the horizon, the Warriors have to regroup and get ready to continue conference play if they want to end this current three-game skid.
“We’ll watch some film and get ready to go,” Jamrog said. “Hopefully we get a nice crowd for Homecoming and start playing football around here like we want to play.”
Midland plays next Saturday, October 5, at 1:00 p.m. at Heedum Field against the Briar Cliff Chargers (3-2 overall, 2-1 GPAC) on Homecoming.