SIOUX CITY — OK, the voters didn’t get it right. That point was made very clear.
NAIA No. 6 Morningside dominated every facet of Saturday's game against previously undefeated and third-ranked Doane, as the “underdog” rolled to a 69-7 victory at Olsen Stadium.
An underdog in a GPAC game for the first time since Sioux Falls left the conference, the motivation proved more than enough for the Mustangs and a hindrance to the Tigers.
Morningside racked up 606 yards of offense while holding Doane to just 285 in a game that was over almost as quickly as it started.
“We want to win big games, Doane is the No. 3 team in the nation and we wanted to put out a point,” said Morningside junior receiver Tanner Ver Steeg. “That is what we did today. We wanted to prove a point that we weren’t ranked where we should be with the tough loss against (Wisconsin-)Whitewater. We wanted to prove to the polls that we were the better team.”
The Mustangs (4-1, 3-0) rolled up 450 yards in the first half, as sophomore quarterback Trent Solsma was an efficient 10-of-13 for 284 yards and five touchdowns before being pulled with more than six minutes to go in the first half.
His laser precision shredded the Tiger secondary. His first pass was a 36-yard strike to Ver Steeg. He followed a little more than 4 minutes later with a 37-yarder on fourth down to senior Michael Whitehead.
“We just had a game plan to hit some deep balls and we were able to execute and it all worked out,” said Whitehead, who had three catches for 119 yards.
On the next drive, Solsma connected with Whitehead again on a 76-yard pass on third-and-15, then Zach Knicky hauled in a 15-yard pass to extend Morningside's lead to 27-0.
The second quarter was an even bigger nightmare for the Tigers, as Morningside put up 35 more points.
Wahoo graduate Tyler Kavan had a 1-yard TD run, and Dom Flemister and Ver Steeg both had two touchdown receptions for the Mustangs.
“What we focused on this week was speed and running great routes and all the receiving corps was running great routes, pushing our routes and just being fast,” said Ver Steeg, who had a team-leading four catches for 139 yards.
The offense was nothing but fireworks in the first half, but the Morningside defense wasn't just standing around either.
A week after cornerbacks Xavier Spann and Darrian Turk both returned interceptions for touchdowns against Concordia, Luke Gibbs sandwiched Doane backup quarterback Trev Lovell, forcing the ball to pop up in the air, where Luke Grooters snatched it and raced 42 yards for the touchdown early in the second quarter.
The defense smothered Doane senior running back Nate Meier, who was held to 37 yards in the first half and 73 for the game. Lovell played in place of starter Jack Shadley, who was injured last week against Midland, and went 9-for-26 for 155 yards with an interception.
“On defense our guys played really well and when our defense plays that well there is just so much to feed off it in terms of what we are capable of doing,” Morningside coach Steve Ryan said. “It was a fun day.”
The Tigers’ lone score came with two seconds left in the game when Lovell hit Mitch Marvin on a 5-yard pass. Hunter Bradley had four catches for 140 yards for Doane.