Dragons look to keep positive momentum going

No one is ever going to confuse South Dakota School of the Mines and Technology for a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference team.

But Tiffin University coach Gary Goff is hoping the Dragons lopsided win last week over the independent Hardrockers will give TU some momentum that will carry over into the conference schedule.

“No matter who you’re playing, if you execute, you’ll be OK,” Goff said. “I felt for the first time this year, at least last week, we did a great job offensively executing.”

Tiffin will look to do that against GLIAC (and former American Mideast Conference) rival Walsh, which defeated the Dragons in Canton last season.

The Cavaliers come into today’s 1:30 p.m. contest sporting the same 2-5 record as the Dragons.

Goff said a victory would be a big one for TU.

“It’s a game where I expect we’ll go out and play hard and win,” Goff said, “and set us up for a lot of momentum for the rest of the year.”

A big performance from the offense – say, one similar to last week’s – would go a long way toward achieving that goal.

The key to that was the play of freshman quarterback Antonio Pipkin, who completed 34 of 43 passes for 334 yards and three touchdowns.

“Offensively I know Pipkin, you can see him on film getting to his third, fourth read sometimes, and that’s really good,” Goff said. “His playing experience is showing just a little bit right there.”

That experience will be needed against a Walsh defense that thrives in getting takeaways. The Cavaliers forced three in the first half last week against Ashland, and has forced 18 this season.

“They create turnovers,” Goff said of the Cavaliers. “I think that’s why they’ve been in a lot of games close, because they do create turnovers on defense.”

Cornerback Jamaris Brown has been a big part of that, forcing four fumbles and intercepting three passes. On offense, the Cavaliers are led by quarterback Paul Kempe, who is the team’s leading rusher and passer. He’s thrown for 1,567 yards and 10 touchdowns, and has run for 238 yards and two scores.

It will be a rare road game for Walsh, which has played five home games in its first seven contests.

And one of those road games was at Malone, which plays in the same stadium.

One thing’s for sure. After a nine-hour bus ride last week, Goff is glad to be back in Tiffin.

“We’re at home, that’s always good,” he said. “We play hard at home. They’ve got to travel, and they’ve really only traveled once all year.”

And Goff said, the Dragons are playing well.

“[Wednesday] might have been our best day of practice all year. That’s pretty encouraging, because at this time of the season, everyone know practice is not a whole lot of fun,” he said. “You just want to line up and play the games.”