CRETE, NE – Senior running back Garrett Sonderup has been an impact player for Doane since he step foot on campus more than three years ago.
In his first career game for the Tigers, the Genoa, NE native ran for 109 yards and a touchdown in a season-opening 54-7 win at McPherson College in Kansas.
That was on Sept. 5, 2015.
Sonderup has played in 33 games since then. Never again was he able to reach the century mark running the football.
That is, until last week.
Sonderup has been a workhorse in Doane’s backfield this season, carrying the ball 10 or more times every week. He had 98 yards against Dordt and 89 against Jamestown, but then the yardage started dropping.
68 yards against Northwestern. 48 against Hastings. Then 22 against mighty Morningside on 14 carries.
Against Briar Cliff last Saturday, Sonderup turned a career-high 26 carries into a season-high 107 yards in a 17-7 victory. A victory that snapped a three-game losing streak.
Sonderup became Doane’s first player this season to reach the 100-yard mark in either rushing or receiving.
“It was pretty nice just to gather up,” Sonderup said. “We challenged each other going into last week’s game, and we got the results that we needed.”
Head coach Chris Bessler was pleased with Garrett’s running. He has been all season. What Bessler was especially pleased with last week was the play of the offensive line.
“I thought Garrett ran extremely well,” Bessler said. “He ran hard and with purpose. He performed very well. If you were to ask Garrett, he wasn’t as concerned with that 100-yard day rather than recognizing the offensive line and the receivers for what they did.”
I did ask Garrett. He said much the same about Doane’s pipeline, not surprisingly.
“You can’t go anywhere without those guys,” Sonderup said. “I learned that from a very, very young age ever since I started playing football in fourth or fifth grade. I take a lot of pride in letting those guys know that they mean a lot to me.”
Still, he takes pride in knowing that his performance helped the Tigers get over the hump against Briar Cliff.
“I’d say it felt pretty good,” Sonderup said. “I’ve never been one about personal statistics and stuff. I’m more worried about, are we winning? Are we getting the job done? But, it’s always nice to see my hard work pay off a little bit. I put a lot into this sport, so to see some sort of reward is always nice.”
Sonderup says he does everything as a player, and as a student, with purpose. That’s probably why he hates losing.
“I hate losing more than I like winning,” Sonderup said. “It’s never okay for me to lose a game. I remember last year’s (loss to Midland) and how I felt after it and how annoyed I was with how it went down. It’s one of those things where we have a lot to prove, because this year is this year’s team, and I would say we’re a completely different team.”
While the three-game losing skid this year was tough enough to swallow, Doane’s season-ending 31-20 loss at Midland last November is still fresh in Garrett’s memory.
Sonderup has never had back-to-back 100-yard rushing games. The senior likely has just two games left in his career after Saturday.
So, if there were ever a time to have a big career performance, this meeting with Midland would be the perfect time.
“I’m actually excited to go out there with my guys and beat up (Midland),” Sonderup said pointedly. “Those are my intentions, and it’s our team’s intentions.”
The Doane Tigers (4-3, 3-3 GPAC) are back home for the second straight week to face the Midland Warrios (6-2, 4-2 GPAC). Kickoff from Al Papik Field is set for 1 p.m. Coverage on Ol’ Red 99.5 begins at 12:30 p.m. with the Doane Tailgate Pregame Show.
You can stream the game live here.
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