SIOUX CITY, IOWA – Morningside’s hopes at repeating as the back-to-back national champion came up short as the top-ranked Mustangs fell to no. 12 Keiser University 29-28 in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Football Championship Series Quarterfinal Round. Morningside had a 25-game winning streak coming into today’s contest.

The Mustangs started strong, scoring first as Joe Dolincheck led Morningside down the field, connecting with Zach Norton to get the ball to the 1-yard line, setting up K.J. Williams for the score. Keiser countered the touchdown and Chase Carter point after with a field goal from 39 yards out.

Dolincheck found Norton again, this time in the endzone to widen Morningside’s advantage, 14-3, passing Trent Solsma’s career touchdowns mark of 165. Dolincheck would go on to find Williams through the air to set the record at 167 with a 21-3 score.

Keiser answered Dolincheck’s record setter with a TD to make the halftime score 21-10, continuing to open the second half scoring with a pair of third quarter field goals to close the gap to 21-16.

The Mustangs hit the Seahawks with a little razzle dazzle as the third quarter drew to a close, as Lennx Brown took the snap from Mason Williams, handing it off to Austin Johnson in the backfield. Johnson, having slightly bobbled the handoff, recollected the ball and connected with a wide open Brown for a 25-yard touchdown to give Morningside a 28-16 advantage following Carter’s kick.

Keiser answered with a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter via 23-yard run and 76-yard pass, hitting the extra point attempt on the first score, but being turned away by Morningside’s defense on the two-point conversion attempt on the final score.

The Mustangs would find some success moving down the field to try to retake the lead to end the game, but Keiser picked off a throwing-into-the-wind Dolincheck to eliminate the threat and secure their berth in one of next week’s semifinal games.

Dolincheck threw for 245 yards, going 18-for-36. Brown had two passes for 26 yards, and Johnson had one for 25.

K.J. Williams led the way on the ground, with 14 carries for 35 yards and one touchdown. Brown had four carries for 13 yards, including a 10-yard scramble.

Austin Johnson had four catches for 82 yards for the Mustangs. Norton wasn’t far behind with 78 yards on six catches, including a receiving touchdown. Michael Payne, Joshua Simmons, Brown, Jack Sievert, Caleb Schweigart, Williams, and Sione Tuifua all had catches for positive yards for Morningside.

Lonell Boyd Jr. had eight solo tackles, with 13 total, to lead the defense. Jalen Portis and Isaac Pingel each had nine total tackles, and Weston Schultz had eight. Portis and Schultz split a sack in the contest, while Brady Schlaeger had a two-yard sack for the Mustang defense.

Morningside concludes the season 11-1, appearing in its 19th NAIA postseason. The Mustangs won their 12th consecutive, and 13th overall, Great Plains Athletic Conference championship.