MADISON, S.D. – A road-weary Waldorf football team ran into a tough Dakota State squad Saturday night, falling 59-20 in North Star Athletic Association action.
The Warriors (4-3 overall, 2-2 NSAA) rolled into South Dakota to battle the Trojans for second place still riding high on the momentum of last week's comeback win, but fell behind early to a Dakota State team just seven spots outside the NAIA Top 25.
"They are a good team, well coached," Waldorf head coach Josh Littrell said, adding, "We had too many mental mistakes tonight, and when you're playing a good football team they'll make you pay, and they did."
Down 14-0 in the second quarter, Waldorf began mounting a comeback as NAIA National Offensive Player of the Week, Hilton Joseph, ran the ball in from 7 yards out on the option, capping a 10-play, 76-yard drive.
That got the Warriors as close as 14-7 down with 9 minutes, 13 seconds left until halftime, but the host Trojans (5-2, 3-1) tacked on two more scores before the break.
Waldorf showed its hard-hat mentality, though, battling to turn the game's momentum before halftime, marching 75 yards in 3:39, a drive capped by a 1-yard scoring plunge by Samuel Huntley as time expired, trimming the difference to 28-14.
Taking the opening kick-off of the second half, the Warriors drove to the Dakota State 38 before their drive stalled, a key stop for the Trojans who then scored twice more to fend off Waldorf's plans at another comeback victory.
A 10-yard touchdown pass from Joseph to Benjamin Mau got the Warriors as close as 42-20 with 33 seconds left in the third quarter before two more Dakota State scores in the fourth iced the contest.
Joseph finished the night completing 24-of-41 passes for 213 yards and added 65 yards on the ground. Jordin Roberts led the Warriors rushing game with 73 yards on 16 carries, and Huntley was Joseph's top target, catching six passes for 78 yards.
Defensively, Derris Key made seven tackles and Connor Curran added six for the Warriors, who look to rebound with another very tough foe on the road, playing at No. 21-ranked Dickinson State next Saturday at 1 p.m.
"We'll continue to push forward as a team and continue to work to become better," Littrell said, looking ahead.