Balanced rushing attack powers Doane over No. 16 Concordia
SEWARD, Neb. – Visiting Doane reeled off 28 unanswered points to take control on the way to a 28-7 win over the 16th-ranked Bulldog football team in Seward on Saturday afternoon. Concordia, which had hoped to complete a season sweep of its Nebraska GPAC rivals, lost for the second-straight time and fell to 6-2 overall and 4-2 in conference play.
“We really didn’t play well in any phase today,” Bulldog head coach Vance Winter said. “Offensively we had far too many three-and-outs. Credit to Doane. They came off their bye week and played very good football and did some great things. They moved the football, moved the chains, and really got after us with their run game.”
Doane virtually neglected the passing game, relying on a rushing attack that piled up 259 yards on 53 attempts. Mobile quarterback Phil Thramer led all players with 80 rushing yards, while running back Nate Meier added 71 yards and a touchdown. For the game, Doane outgained Concordia 300-234.
With quarterback Von Thomas using his legs to help extend several drives, Concordia moved the football inside the Doane 20 on four occasions but came away with only seven points. A lost fumble, a turnover on downs and a missed field goal thwarted possessions deep in Tiger territory.
For the second-straight game, a controversial call went against Concordia. On the final play of the third quarter, freshman Trey Barnes barreled towards the goal line on a third and goal from the one. The officials ruled that Barnes lost the football just before reaching the end zone, allowing Doane to recover the ball and maintain a 28-7 advantage.
The Bulldogs actually took a first-quarter lead when junior quarterback Von Thomas found freshman receiver Chevarius Curry-Felix for a seven-yard touchdown strike at the 4:39 mark. The rest of the day was dominated by the Tigers, who scored three times before halftime to go up 21-7 at the break.
Thramer directed the Tigers on a trio of first-half scoring drives that took advantage of short fields. Thramer rushed for two touchdowns and threw for another in a first half in which the Tigers took advantage of the Bulldogs’ mistakes.
“They got the edges on us and made some big plays,” said senior defensive lineman Cody Hawk, who made two tackles for loss on Saturday. “They had some large gaps on the strong side and we just couldn’t close them down.”
A blocked punt early in the second quarter gave Doane the ball at Concordia’s 21-yard line. Five plays later, Thramer scurried seven yards to the end zone to lift his squad to a 14-7 advantage. The Tigers’ longest scoring drive of the half covered only 43 yards.
Doane pushed across the game’s final points when Meier broke Concordia’s back with a 38-yard touchdown scamper on a stretch play that converted a third-and-25. The Tigers ended up 8-for-15 on third downs compared to 4-for-19 for the Bulldogs.
“They blocked it up well and I think he ran in untouched,” Winter said of Meier’s touchdown run. “You can’t do those things and beat a good team. We had a punt blocked, we gave them short fields the whole game and offensively we had too many three-and-outs.”
Thomas accounted for most of Concordia’s offensive production on the day. He finished 22-for-42 passing with 146 yards. He also led Concordia with 50 yards rushing on 12 attempts. The freshman duo of Bryce Collins and Trey Barnes was limited to 38 yards on 24 carries.
Senior safety Darnell Woods, who entered play as Concordia’s leading tackler, came up to make 13 stops. Senior inside linebacker Colton Schneider registered 12 total tackles. Senior corner Derek Blessing produced Doane’s only turnover when he jarred the ball loose from running back Clayton Moore and then recovered it.
The Bulldogs face another big challenge as top-ranked Morningside (7-0, 6-0 GPAC) pays a visit to Seward next Saturday for a 1 p.m. kickoff. The Mustangs have won 22-consecutive GPAC contests dating back to September of 2011. Morningside defeated Briar Cliff 67-0 on Saturday to extend its streak.
“These guys will respond,” Winter said of next week’s challenge. “We’re excited about the opportunity to be at home for two weeks. Morningside is a great football team. The fact of the matter is that we have to play way better football.”