Game notes: Concordia and Northwestern to meet in GPAC opener

By Jake Knabel on Sep. 11, 2017 in Football

SEWARD, Neb. – For the second time in three weeks, the Concordia University football program will go up against a nationally-ranked opponent. The Bulldogs and No. 24 Northwestern are set to clash inside De Valois Stadium in Orange City, Iowa, at 1 p.m. CT on Saturday. Last week Patrick Daberkow picked up his first career head coaching victory while Tarence Roby highlighted the day with a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown.

The early returns have been positive for the Red Raiders, who are looking to bounce back from a 3-7 season in 2016. Northwestern has defeated its first two opponents (Ottawa University and No. 15 Dickinson State University) by a combined score of 78-19. With freshman quarterback Tyson Kooima at the controls, the Red Raider offense has averaged 550.0 yards of offense. Can they keep it going against a Concordia defense that forced three turnovers in limited Ottawa to 299 yards and six points last week?

GAME INFO
Concordia (1-1) at No. 24 Northwestern (2-0)
Saturday, Sept. 16 | 1 p.m.
De Valois Stadium | Orange City, Iowa
Webcast: Stretch Internet
Radio: 104.9 Max Country
Commentators: Tyler Cavalli and Roger Fitzke

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN

2017 Team Statistics
*National rank in parentheses

Concordia
Offensive PPG: 18.5 (T-62nd)
Defensive PPG: 17.0 (T-14th)
Total Offense: 381.5 (42nd)
Pass Offense: 143.5 (68th)
Rush Offense: 238.0 (17th)
Total Defense: 373.0 (29th)
Pass Defense: 191.0 (T-30th)
Rush Defense: 182.0 (T-49th)
Turnover +/-: 0 (T-38th) 

Northwestern
Offensive PPG: 39.0 (T-23rd)
Defensive PPG: 9.5 (3rd)
Total Offense: 550.0 (8th)
Pass Offense: 264.0 (25th)
Rush Offense: 286.0 (5th)
Total Defense: 406.5 (49th)
Pass Defense: 216.5 (41st)
Rush Defense: 190.0 (53rd)
Turnover +/-: +3 (T-14th) 

Returning Individual Leaders

Concordia
Head Coach: Patrick Daberkow (1-1, 1st season)
Passing: Andrew Perea – Passing: 22/38 (.579), 204 yards, td, 0 int
Rushing: Ryan Durdon – 51 rushes, 302 yards, 5.9 avg, 2 td
Receiving: Lane Castaneda – 10 catches, 112 yards, 11.2 avg, td
Defense: Nate Gilmore – 10 tackles, tfl, int 

Northwestern
Head Coach: Matt McCarty (5-7, 2nd season)
Passing: Tyson Kooima – 33/55 (.600), 528 yards, 7 td, int; rushing: 22 rushes, 134 yards, 6.1 avg
Rushing: Jacob Kalogonis – 45 rushes, 359 yards, 8.0 avg, 4 td
Receiving: Jared Nelson – 11 catches, 206 yards, 18.7 avg, 5 td
Defense: Sean Powell – 20 tackles, 2 tfl 

In the rankings
The NAIA released its first coaches’ top 25 poll of the regular season on Monday (Sept. 11). A 2-0 start vaulted Northwestern to No. 24. Meanwhile, the season opening loss resulted in Concordia failing to garner any votes this week. The Bulldogs and Red Raiders were pegged to be neck-and-neck in the GPAC, according to the preseason polls released in August. Concordia appeared as the first team outside the national top 25 in the NAIA’s preseason ranking.

Concordia
GPAC preseason: 5th (coaches); 6th (media)
NAIA coaches’ poll (Sept. 11): NR
Massey Ratings: 44th

Northwestern
GPAC preseason: 5th (coaches); 5th (media)
NAIA coaches’ poll (Sept. 11): 24th
Massey Ratings: 13th

Roby featured on SportsCenter
A former walk on at NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision Northern Illinois University, Tarence Roby had already built a strong reputation within the GPAC. This past weekend he received national attention after his dazzling 100-yard interception return for a touchdown. His eye-popping play made its way to ESPN’s SportsCenter. The Worldwide Leader tracked Roby’s total distance covered at 139 yards during the entirety of his pick six. The return equaled a GPAC and national college football record. According to the NCAA record book, 101 NCAA DI FBS players have recorded 100-yard interception returns since 1941. In college football, statistics are only measured from goal line to goal line.

Roby now has five career touchdowns that have been scored in wide variety of ways. Two of his touchdowns have come on kick returns and one apiece have come on a fumble return, a punt return and an interception return. His five touchdown returns have covered a combined total of 339 yards. His day in last week’s victory included 222 all-purpose yards (100 interception return, 91 kick returns, 31 punt returns).

Roby career touchdowns
9/20/2014 – 46-yard fumble return vs. Midland
10/18/2014 – 90-yard kickoff return vs. Northwestern
10/24/2015 – 12-yard blocked punt return vs. Doane
9/10/2016 – 91-yard kickoff return at Ottawa
9/9/2017 – 100-yard interception return vs. Ottawa

Durdon one of nation’s top rushers
Sophomore running back Ryan Durdon, a converted receiver, has emerged as a breakout star through the first two weeks of the season. The native of Decatur, Texas, was featured last week in his hometown newspaper, the Wise County Messenger. With 302 rushing yards, Durdon ranks third among GPAC players and sixth among all NAIA ball carriers in rushing yards per game (151.0). In the season opener at No. 20 Kansas Wesleyan University, Durdon became the program’s fourth player to rush for 200 or more yards in a game during the GPAC era (2000-present). He followed that performance up by rushing 27 times for 94 yards and a touchdown in last week’s win. Durdon has been the team’s primary rusher. He has run 51 times. No other Bulldog has more than 12 rushing attempts.

Receivers emerge
With Jared Garcia having been sidelined, a new top target has emerged in each of Concordia’s first two games. Freshman Lane Castaneda burst onto the scene with eight catches for 89 yards and a touchdown in his first collegiate game. Last week, senior Kiyoshi Brey turned in a career day, hauling in five passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. Castaneda (10 catches, 112 yards) and Brey (six catches, 84 yards) are the team’s top receivers this season. The school record holder for career touchdown receptions (29), Garcia had played in all 31 Concordia football games over the previous three years. The date of his return to the field is yet to be determined. For now, Brey, Castaneda and junior Vincent Beasley are listed as the team’s starting receivers.

Playmaking secondary
Roby is not the lone playmaker in the secondary. The backfield had a hand in all three turnovers the defense forced versus Ottawa. Named the team’s defensive MVP of the game, sophomore safety Nate Gilmore plucked his first career interception. Additionally, fellow safety D’Mauria Martin forced a fumble that was recovered by teammate Kerry Grigsby. Not only that, starting corner Sebastian Garces blocked a punt that led to a Brendan Cremin field goal. Gilmore is tied for the team lead with 10 tackles. Concordia currently ranks 30th nationally in pass defense, in terms of yards allowed per game.

Home cooking
Concordia extended its home winning streak last week. The Bulldogs went a perfect 5-0 at home during the 2016 season. Concordia also won its final home contest of 2015, meaning the win streak currently stands at seven. Included in that run are five wins over GPAC opponents and two over squads from the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference. The 2016 squad was the program’s first to complete an undefeated home season since 2000.

Seven-game home win streak
9/9/17 | W, 24-6 | Ottawa (Kan.)
11/12/16 | W, 31-28 | Hastings
10/22/16 | W, 20-14 | #22 Midland
10/8/16 | W, 56-0 | Briar Cliff
9/17/16 | W, 9-7 | Northwestern
9/3/16 | W, 23-7 | Mary (Kan.)
11/14/15 | W, 48-0 | Briar Cliff

House of horrors
There’s one streak the Bulldogs would like to put an end to: they have dropped each of their last seven games played in Orange City, Iowa. Included in that stretch have been some wild and unforgettable finishes (see the 2007 and 2013 games). Concordia also traveled to Northwestern in the third game of the 2015 campaign. A 45-yard Le’Dontrae Gooden pick six gave the Bulldogs a 14-7 lead going into the halftime break. Then ranked ninth, the Red Raiders rallied for a 17-14 win while holding Concordia to 237 total yards. Northwestern went a combined 4-5 at home over the 2015 and 2016 seasons. It went 5-0 in Orange City in 2014.

Scouting Northwestern
In Matt McCarty’s first season as head coach in 2016, Northwestern stumbled out of the gate with an 0-3 start, but won its next three and then nearly topped Morningside in the final game of the season. The Red Raiders finished 3-7 and endured their first losing season since 1991. Another losing season looks unlikely based upon the results of the first two weeks. Northwestern has blown out both Ottawa, 41-16, and then No. 15 Dickinson State, 37-3. The offense has hummed behind freshman quarterback Tyson Kooima, who ranks ninth nationally in pass efficiency (179.0). Jared Nelson has been on the receiving end for five of Kooima’s seven touchdown passes. The Red Raiders have been a perennially successful program that made three playoff appearances in a row from 2012 through 2014. Even in a down year last season, Northwestern employed a typically stout defense, ranking 11th in the NAIA in scoring defense (19.3).