VERMILLION, S.D. – It was a back-and-forth battle between the Waldorf University and Briar Cliff University football teams, but the Chargers escaped with a 23-19 win during Saturday’s season opener.
“There were a lot of momentum changes and shifts,” Waldorf coach Kent Anderson said. “I think there were a lot of missed opportunities for us and we just didn’t capitalize. You could tell that we’re a young team.”
The Warriors (0-1) turned in 338 yards of total offense. Senior quarterback Isaac Sanchez completed 21 of 38 passes for 240 yards and three touchdowns.
Freshman Darryel Bethune led Waldorf’s ground game, rushing for 98 yards on 20 carries.
Benjamin Mau hauled in six receptions as the 6-foot-7 redshirt freshman from Hamburg, Germany led the Warriors with 83 yards and caught a TD pass. Senior LaRyan Fletcher provided 78 yards and two TDs on three receptions. Redshirt freshman Cameron Newsome corralled a 25-yard pass and senior LaMont Johnson finished with 24 yards on four receptions.
Sophomore Josh Sauren led Waldorf’s defense with 13 tackles, a fumble recovery and an interception. Senior Ty’Karius Brooks recorded eight tackles and the Warriors received seven tackles each from senior Kali Louis, freshman Jeremiah Jackson and sophomore Jacob Louisius.
Sophomore Dubem Awuzie collected six tackles while senior Christian Riccabona added five tackles and forced a fumble. Junior Sione Aonga, freshman Marcel Lindner and senior Jeffrey Heflin also contributed five tackles apiece.
Briar Cliff (1-0) generated 411 yards of total offense and was led by quarterback Stephen Miller’s 19-of-30 passing performance for 261 yards, three TDs and an interception. Miller, who also scrambled for 48 yards, helped the Chargers rush for 150 yards on the day.
Miles Jones was Miller’s top target, topping Briar Cliff’s receiving corps with 136 yards and two TDs on seven receptions. Chance Barlow pulled down two passes for 51 yards while Tristan Jury finished with 41 yards and a TD on three receptions.
Waldorf is aiming to put the hard-fought loss in the rear-view mirror as the it prepares to host Trinity Bible College (0-1) Saturday in a 7:30 p.m. kickoff for Community Night at Bolstorff Field. The Warriors have won five of the last six meetings against the Lions, which included a 52-3 victory last season.
“We have a new game next week, and that’s the great thing about football is that there’s always a new challenge,” Anderson said. “It’s a learning process that these freshmen can learn from and these seniors can lead the way with it and show improvement. Until we do that, improvement is not all about running plays. It’s about character, adversity and handling those things. We have to learn that.”