Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lions Show Spunk in Opener 28-23 Loss Aside, Coach Likes Start

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lions Show Spunk in Opener 28-23 Loss Aside, Coach Likes Start

Article excerpt

It didn't take the Lindenwood College football team long to make an impression under first-year coach Dan Kratzer.

After losing the coin toss, the Lions opened the season with an onside kick, recovering and driving for a touchdown. Lindenwood eventually lost the game - 28-23 to 11th-ranked Midland Lutheran (Neb.) College - but Saturday night's contest gave a good indication of the effort and the football the Lions are going to play this fall.

"I'm a risk-taker and that's the way I like to coach," said Kratzer, who came to Lindenwood after a successful four-year stint at Hastings (Neb.) College. "We had the element of surprise in our favor and we made it work for us. Whenever possible, we want to make things happen. I think it was a great way to start the season.

"Obviously, we're not happy about losing, but I'm not going to hang my head about a loss to a team that's ranked nationally. I've coached against Midland Lutheran a number of times during my career and they have a quality program. But we were right with them and we have nothing to hang our heads about.

"We put oursevlves in a position to win and that's really all you can ask of any football team."

The Lions, who finished just 2-8 a year ago, showed some real fire before a crowd of 3,100 at Harlen C. Hunter Stadium Saturday night. The offense, the defense and the special teams all had some promising moments.

But . . . .

"We didn't have any of those long, time-consuming drives that you need to have to be successful," Kratzer said. "And that's something we need to work on. Basically, we need to be more consistent. At the same time, though, I saw a lot of good things out there tonight.

"We still have a lot of work to do, but I definitely feel this was a step in the right direction."

After Brett Westerfield recovered the opening kickoff, the Lions moved 53 yards on six plays for the season's first touchdown, a 3-yard bootleg pass from quarterback Corey Nesslage to tight end Carlton Rivers. The key play of the drive was a pass completion that was fumbled and recovered by Lindenwood at the Midland Lutheran 2.

Bill Leiby's kick put Lindenwood on top 7-0.

The Warriors came right back, moving 70 yards on nine plays to even the score on a 19-yard pass from Thad Gossett to Jeremy Giflry. After a blocked punt, Midland Lutheran scored again on the first play of the second quarter. A 13-yard pass from Gossett deflected off the hands of the Lindenwood defender and off the hands of Warriors' receiver Trevor Kingston and into the hands of Jason Tonjes for the score. Shawn Wiseman's kick made it 14-7.

Lindenwood evened the score later in the second quarter, taking advantage of a fumble deep in Midland Lutheran territory. Richie Duncan recovered the fumble, giving Lindenwood the ball at the Warrior 23. On first down, Nesslage threw to Mario Patton in the flat and Patton darted through and around the defense for the touchdown. …

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