SEWARD, Neb. – If you missed it on Saturday, you missed the Ryan Durdon and D’Mauria Martin variety show. A school record single-game rushing total by Durdon and three first-quarter interceptions by Martin spurred the Concordia University football team to a 44-14 win over visiting Midland on a foggy, misty day in Seward. The home win streak has moved to nine for Concordia.
First-year head coach Patrick Daberkow’s squad is a perfect 3-0 at home in 2017. It now stands at 3-3 overall and at 2-2 in conference play.
“It was not something that took us by surprise as far as Ryan running for a lot of yards,” Daberkow said. “He is a really good running back. Our offensive line has never played at the level they’re playing at now. Coach (Thomas) Byrd is doing a great job with them. It was just fun to see it.
“We went to sub guys and Von (Thomas) said, ‘Hey, he’s four yards away from getting the record.’ So we let him in for two more plays. It was good to see him get it.”
Durdon and the running game busted loose in a big way on Saturday. Durdon broke free for touchdown scores of 41, 54, three and 20 yards behind a bulldozing offensive line. Durdon’s record breaking rushing total ended up at 266. He clipping the previous GPAC era standard of 261 set by JaMaine Lewis in 2007 and equaled the school record of 266 set by Randy Pospishil in 1972. Durdon, a native of Decatur, Texas, cracked the century mark for the first time since his 208-yard output in the season opener at Kansas Wesleyan University. Durdon now owns two of the program’s five 200-yard rushing games during the GPAC era (2000-present).
Concordia wound up with 50 rushing attempts compared to 13 passes. Clearly, the Bulldogs executed a game plan focused on letting No. 19 do his thing. Durdon moved into a tie for the record with a seven-yard rush on his final carry of the game.
“It was amazing. The o-line demolished people,” Durdon said. “Seth Fitzke’s always manhandling people. Robert Ferguson the fullback is always leading the hole for me in space.’
“I put my helmet on. I was getting ready to go back in and they told me I was five yards away (from the record). I’m thankful that someone was looking at that. It’s definitely a great accomplishment. I’m excited for it.”
Martin put on a show during a first quarter that included a tackle in the backfield in addition to the three picks. Martin’s second and third interceptions both led to touchdown passes by Riley Wiltfong. One went to Jackson Hall for nine yards and another went to Lane Castaneda for 23 yards. Martin now has a team high five interceptions this season.
“It was just coaches. They put us in a two-deep coverage,” Martin said. “I was just roaming around and he was throwing me the ball, basically. I couldn’t be more proud of my teammates. We came out with a dominant victory.”
The Bulldog defense responded admirably following a 38-18 loss at Hastings two weeks ago. Led by Martin, the swarming unit swallowed up a Warrior offense that managed 264 total yards. The Midland rushing attack sputtered, gaining 71 yards on 31 attempts.
The crisp and misty weather lent itself to a ground and pound type of day. Back from injury, Wiltfong spent most of the day feeding his backs. Wiltfong went 8-for-11 for 107 yards and two touchdowns in a successful return. The team’s 321 rushing yards made life easy on Wiltfong, who recovered after an early interception. TJ Austin also toted the ball 13 times for 54 yards. Wiltfong’s eight completions went to three different receivers, including Vincent Beasley (two catches, 47 yards).
Payton Nelson relieved Midland starting quarterback Garry Cannon, who threw interceptions on two of his three pass attempts. Top Warrior rusher Lukas Vopnford was stifled, rushing 12 times for 36 yards. However, Vopnford did catch four passes for 74 yards.
For Concordia, it was simply about getting back to basics during its bye week. The Bulldogs played smash mouth football on Saturday.
“Simplicity and getting down to doing what we do best,” said Daberkow of the bye week message. “It was really just shoring up some things. We did nothing crazy over the bye week.”
The Bulldogs will be back on the road next Saturday (Oct. 21) for a contest at Dordt (4-2, 2-2 GPAC). Kickoff from Sioux Center, Iowa, is slated for 1 p.m. CT. This week the Defenders received votes in the national coaches’ poll for the first time in their history. Concordia has lost just once all-time against Dordt.