[Football] Mustangs Win NAIA Football Title

Football – Sun, Dec. 19, 2021

DURHAM, N.C.–Morningside overcame two different seven-point deficits and three turnovers to score the final 17 points of the NAIA Football National Championship to win its third title in four years.

The Mustangs finished the year with a perfect 14-0 record after defeating Grand View 38-28.

“It was tough, but the guys kept playing,” said coach Steve Ryan. “We struggled with turnovers in the first half and our defense came out and played lights-out in the second half.”

Grand View (14-1) forced a three-and-out to start the third quarter, then blocked the punt to take over at the Morningside 5-yard line. Ali Scott’s second touchdown run of the game put the Vikings up 28-21 with 12:25 left in the third.

Morningside used a 15-play, 82-yard drive that chewed up 6:25 of the third quarter to tie the game at 28 on Anthony Sims’ third touchdown run of the game from four yards out.

Sims was the Offensive Player of the Game finishing with 145 rushing yards on 27 carries.

A Drew Bessey interception with 12:31 left in the fourth which set up a 34-yard touchdown pass from Joe Dolincheck to Reid Jurgensmeier.

Jurgensmeier had a monster game in the second half, finishing with 216 yards on 13 catches.

“He always played big in big games, and he did today,” said Ryan of Jurgensmeier. “He made critical catches and his last touchdown was phenomenal.”

Both teams scored on their first possessions, going 75 yards each on six plays each. A 30-yard pass from Johnny Sullivan to Anthony Turner got Grand View on the board first just 2:27 into the game and Sims scored from three yards out for Morningside to tie the game with 11:11 left in the first. A two-yard run by Sims at the 6:52 mark of the quarter gave the Mustangs their first lead.

The Vikings took advantage of a pair of turnovers to regain the lead with a one-yard run by Ali Scott to tie it.

Morningside was able to keep points off the board once on a missed field goal following an interception and nearly regained momentum on a long pass to Austin Johnson, but the ball was punched loose by Jianni Angulo after a 57-yard gain.

Grand View answered with a 10-yard reception by Bennett Spry from Sullivan with 3:03 left in the second to go up 21-14.

“I couldn’t be any prouder of them,” said coach Joe Woodley of his Grand View team. “They showed the same guts and fight and execution today as they have all year. Sometimes it’s not enough.”

The Mustangs answered with a 13-play drive to tie the game with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Joe Dolincheck to Austin Johnson with 20 seconds left in the second.

“Joe just puts the ball in the right spot every play,” said Jurgensmeier. “That’s what we’ve been doing all year, and our coaches had good calls and put us in the right spots.”

Jalen Portis was named the Defensive Player of the Game after making five tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble, leading a defense that limited the Vikings to 324 total yards.

*Story and Photo Courtesy of NAIA

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