CRETE — The Doane and Friends University football teams combined for 12 turnovers Saturday at Al Papik Field, and Doane’s Cole Wiseman was on both sides of that equation.
The senior cornerback, however, more than made up for his fumbled punt in the third quarter with the first interception for a touchdown in his career — a 77-yarder with 24 seconds left in the third quarter. That helped the No. 11 Tigers put away a 28-13 victory to improve to 2-0 moving into Great Plains Athletic Conference play next week.
Doane’s defense, which forced seven Friends (0-2) miscues, scored 14 points. Connor Hughes scooped up a Friends fumble on the final play of the first half and rambled 66 yards for a TD that gave the Tigers a 21-10 edge at intermission.
“Fourteen points on defense, that’s huge. That’s our experience showing up,” said Wiseman, a four-year starter. “We made mistakes, but we didn’t get our heads down and we bounced right back.”
On the fumbled punt return, “I was trying to make a play, and I ended up making a play for the other team,” said Wiseman, the Sutton graduate who had a 29-yard punt return in the first quarter to set up Doane’s first score, a 15-yard run by Garrett Sonderup with 3:49 left in the first quarter that put the Tigers up 7-3.
Wiseman was hit hard just as the ball arrived. “I probably should’ve taken a fair catch,” he admitted. “I took a shot and got the wind knocked out of me, but the corner (Trent Jeary) who replaced me got an interception on the next series, so it didn’t end up hurting us.”
With the Tigers holding on to their 11-point halftime lead, the Falcons were driving to cut into the margin late in the third quarter when Wiseman made his pick-6.
“They’d run that play three or four times on me on third down, so I knew it was coming,” Wiseman said. “I stayed on the inside of him (the Friends receiver) and I broke on it just as he (Friends quarterback Dan Dawdy) was throwing it. I caught it in stride and got some great blocks to get to full speed.”
Hughes, a sophomore defensive end from Nederland, Texas, was in the right place at the right time when Friends starting quarterback Kevin Folsom rolled right and was sacked by Jarod Fiegner just as he was getting ready to throw the ball.
“I’ve always pictured how a play like that would happen,” Hughes said. “As soon as I saw the ball, I wasn’t going to fall on it. All that was going through my mind was ‘handle it clean and don’t get tackled.’’’
Folsom, a freshman who was 13-of-27 for 104 yards, was later injured in the third quarter after taking a hard hit on a pass interception by Doane’s AJ Allen. He was loaded onto a stretcher and taken to the Crete hospital by ambulance.
All 10 of Friends’ points came after Doane turnovers, so the rapid change of possessions were a mixed blessing for Tigers coach Matt Franzen.
“With five turnovers, we left a lot of scoring opportunities on the field,” said Franzen, whose team was without 2016 starting quarterback Jack Shadley for a second straight game because of a back injury and last year’s leading receiver, Drew Klein.
The Tigers rushed for 165 yards, led by Najee Mustafaa and Kyle Jensen who had 53 and 52 yards, respectively. Quarterbacks Trev Lovell and Paul Lozano combined to go 8-of-24 for 97 yards while throwing two interceptions.
“Our defense scored 14 points, and that was the game,” Franzen said. “Both of our quarterbacks had their good moments, and there were times when they struggled.
“We’ll enjoy the win with plenty of things to work on. It’s better than taking a loss with plenty of things to work on.”
Doane begins GPAC play at home next Saturday against No. 17 Dakota Wesleyan.