SEWARD, Neb. – It wasn’t always pretty, but star running back Ryan Durdon and a run-stuffing defense led the Concordia University football team to a wire-to-wire 27-20 win over visiting Buena Vista University (Iowa) in last week’s season opener. Durdon’s 250-yard rushing outburst highlighted the day for head coach Patrick Daberkow’s squad. Now the Bulldogs look forward to their first GPAC contest of 2018. Concordia and Jamestown will go head-to-head at 1 p.m. in Jamestown, N.D., on Saturday.
If the opener was any indication, the Bulldogs should have another solid defense despite the departures in the secondary. While Concordia allowed some big plays in the passing game to a veteran Beaver quarterback, it completely snuffed out the run. The Bulldog defense forced three turnovers and held Buena Vista to 304 yards of offense. Aaron Rudloff (2.5 tackles for loss, forced fumble, fumble recovery) enjoyed a big day up front.
On the other hand, head coach Josh Kittell’s Jamestown squad has endured back-to-back blowout losses against nationally-ranked opponents. In the Jimmies’ first-ever conference game as a GPAC member, they fell by a 49-7 score in a home matchup with then seventh-ranked Northwestern. Jamestown owns a nonconference win over Valley City State University (N.D.).
Concordia (1-0, 0-0) at Jamestown (1-2, 0-1)
Saturday, Sept. 15 | 1 p.m.
Taylor Stadium | Jamestown, N.D.
Webcast: Stretch Internet
Radio: 104.9 Max Country
Commentators: Tyler Cavalli and Roger Fitzke
Live Stats: Dakstats
*National rank out of 89 NAIA football programs in parentheses
Offensive PPG: 27.0 (48th)
Defensive PPG: 20.0 (T-31st)
Total Offense: 310.0 (66th)
Pass Offense: 58.0 (89th)
Rush Offense: 252.0 (T-13th)
Total Defense: 304.0 (22nd)
Pass Defense: 283.0 (75th)
Rush Defense: 21.0 (2nd)
Turnover +/-: +1 (T-21st)
Offensive PPG: 11.7 (77th)
Defensive PPG: 42.0 (T-74th)
Total Offense: 249.3 (82nd)
Pass Offense: 96.3 (85th)
Rush Offense: 153.0 (44th)
Total Defense: 419.7 (64th)
Pass Defense: 253.0 (T-69th)
Rush Defense: 166.7 (50th)
Turnover +/-: -5 (T-82nd)
Head Coach: Patrick Daberkow (7-4, 2nd season)
Passing: Jake Kemp – 9/18 (.500), 58 yards, td, 2 int; rushing td
Rushing: Ryan Durdon – 42 rushes, 250 yards, 6.0 avg, 2 td
Receiving: Logan Kreizel – 2 catches, 25 yards, 12.5 avg
Defense: Aaron Rudloff – 6 tackles, 2.5 tfl, sack, ff, fr, pbu
Head Coach: Josh Kittell (7-18, 3rd season)
Passing: Jordan Mann – 21/60 (.350), 261 yards, td, 6 int; 44 rushing yards, td
Rushing: Jimmy Hatch – 46 rushes, 208 yards, 4.5 avg, 2 td
Receiving: Barry Williams Jr. – 4 catches, 101 yards, 25.3 avg, td
Defense: Caleb Ellingson – 30 tackles, 3 tfl
9/8 vs. Buena Vista, W, 27-20
9/15 at Jamestown, 1 p.m.
9/22 vs. Midland, 1 p.m.
9/29 at Dordt, 1 p.m.
10/6 vs. Dakota Wesleyan, 1 p.m.
10/13 at Briar Cliff, 1 p.m.
10/20 vs. Hastings, 1 p.m.
10/27 at (3) Morningside, 1 p.m.
11/3 vs. (7) Northwestern, 1 p.m.
11/10 at Doane, 1 p.m.
8/25 vs. Valley City State, W, 28-26
9/1 at (13) Dickinson State, L, 0-51
9/8 vs. (7) Northwestern, L, 7-49
9/15 vs. Concordia, 1 p.m.
9/22 at Doane, 1 p.m.
9/29 at Midland, 1 p.m.
10/6 vs. Briar Cliff, 1 p.m.
10/20 at Dordt, 1 p.m.
10/27 vs. Dakota Wesleyan, 1 p.m.
11/3 at Hastings, 1 p.m.
11/10 vs. (2) Morningside, 12 p.m.
In the rankings
Concordia cracked the NAIA top 25 national poll last Nov. 6 but then dropped out after falling in the 2017 finale. The Bulldogs did not receive any votes in the preseason national poll this preseason or in the first regular-season poll released on Monday (Sept. 10). They were picked fourth among the 10 GPAC football schools by both the coaches and media. Massey Ratings currently lists Concordia as the 37th ranked team nationally in the NAIA.
Jamestown was picked near the bottom of the GPAC preseason polls, checking in ninth (media) and 10th (coaches), respectively. The Jimmies are ranked 76th nationally by Massey Ratings.
GPAC preseason: 4th (coaches); 4th (media)
NAIA coaches’ poll (Sept. 10): not ranked
Massey Ratings: 37th
GPAC preseason: 10th (coaches); 9th (media)
NAIA coaches’ poll (Sept. 10): not ranked
Massey Ratings: 76th
Durdon named GPAC Offensive Player of the Week
The offensive line has been rebuilt, but the running game can still churn out yardage thanks in large part to workhorse back Ryan Durdon. The junior from Decatur, Texas, was named the GPAC Offensive Player of the week on Monday. It marked Durdon’s second career GPAC weekly honor. His 250 yards rushing versus Buena Vista were 16 shy of his program single-game record achieved last season against Midland. Durdon has now rushed for more than 200 yards in a game four times in his career. A 1,247-yard rusher last season, he has piled up 1,497 rushing yards over 11 career games (average of 136.1 per game) at the running back position.
200+ yard rushing games, program history
266 – Ryan Durdon vs. Midland, 2017
266 – Randy Pospishil vs. Dana, 1972
261 – JaMaine Lewis vs. Dakota Wesleyan, 2007
250 – Ryan Durdon vs. Buena Vista, 2018
224 – Bob Voelker vs. Doane, 1962
215 – Phillip Elder vs. Doane, 2004
214 – Carl Abele vs. Doane, 1970
208 – Ryan Durdon vs. Kansas Wesleyan, 2017
208 – Cohl Tufford vs. Dakota State, 2011
206 – Gary Seevers vs. Omaha, 1955
201 – Ryan Durdon vs. Dakota Wesleyan, 2017
Passing game under construction
Now the passing game looks to make a leap forward from game No. 1 to game No. 2. It may take a bit of time for the Bulldogs to find a rhythm with sophomore quarterback Jake Kemp and a revamped offensive line. Concordia had three projected offensive starters out of the lineup last week, including two up front and sophomore tight end Brady Fitzke. While making his first career start, Kemp completed 9-of-18 passes for 58 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. One of Kemp’s best throws all day versus Buena Vista was a deep ball to Vincent Beasley, who hauled in the pass with one hand. However, he was ruled out of bounds.
A senior from Manvel, Texas, Beasley is expected to be a reliable target this fall. He caught one pass for four yards last week. The team’s leading receiver was Arthur Anderson, who snagged four balls for 12 yards and a touchdown. Freshman tight end Logan Kreizel reeled in two passes for 25 yards.
Rudloff takes off
As Concordia football color commentator Roger Fitzke said, Aaron Rudloff may be the current team’s best version of former two-time All-American Trey Barnes. A 6-foot-1, 235-pound junior from Battle Creek, Neb., Rudloff was a major pain for the Beavers last week. Rudloff’s stat line included six tackles, 2.5 stops for loss, a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup. His fumble recovery in the final minute sewed up the season opening win. Rudloff appears primed to improve upon his numbers last season when he totaled 34 tackles and half of a sack. He earned a starting defensive end position on a defensive line that hopes to be stouter against the run that in 2017 (158.9 rushing yards per game allowed).
Stuff the run
About that run defense … it could not have performed much better than it did last week. Buena Vista managed only 21 rushing yards on 22 attempts. The longest Beaver rush of the day went for a grand total of eight yards. Daberkow expects his team to play well against the run. Concordia knows what it has at linebacker with stars Lane Napier (nine tackles, sack vs. BVU) and Kordell Glause (forced the fumble that clinched the win vs. BVU). Linebacker Zac Walter also had a nice opening day, registering seven tackles (half of a tackle for loss).
Daberkow and his staff knew things wouldn’t be perfect last week for a youthful offensive line. The five linemen that opened the game had zero combined starting experience. The offensive line included freshmen Wendell Banks (LT), Johnny Robinson III (center) and guard Trenton Sanders (RG) and sophomores Cole Baumgartner (RT) and Roy Garza (LG). Projected starters Grady Koch (LT) and Stuart Kolpin (RG) missed the game last week due to injury. Koch has by far the most experience of the bunch. He earned honorable mention All-GPAC accolades last season.
Fitzke booms in opener
Though injury limited Brady Fitzke’s ability to play tight end last week, he made an impact at punter. He had a busy day there, booting the ball seven times for 306 yards (43.7 average) with a long of 54. Fitzke has the leg to establish himself as one of the GPAC’s top punters and perhaps even one of the best in the NAIA. He took over the role during the season in 2017 and wound up averaging 42.7 yards on 22 punts. Once healthy, Fitzke should also be a nice weapon at the tight end position.
While Concordia saw its 10-game home win streak snapped by Morningside in the final game of 2017, it got back to protecting its home turf last week. Winners of 11 of their last 12 at home, the Bulldogs went 5-0 at home in 2016 and then 4-1 inside Bulldog Stadium in 2017. Next up at home will be Midland for homecoming on Sept. 22.
Last 12 home games
9/8/18 | W, 27-20 | Buena Vista
11/11/17 | L, 0-35 | (3) Morningside
10/28/17 | W, 38-16 | Dakota Wesleyan
10/14/17 | W, 44-14 | Midland
9/23/17 | W, 29-18 | No. 7 Doane
9/9/17 | W, 24-6 | Ottawa (Kan.)
11/12/16 | W, 31-28 | Hastings
10/22/16 | W, 20-14 | No. 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
It’s been a process in building up the program for third-year head coach Josh Kittell, who owns several passing records from his time as a player for the Jamestown program. The Jimmies are looking for their first winning season since 2008. Jamestown has been outscored by a combined total of 126-35 through its first three games of 2018, but the schedule has been challenging out of the gate with games against two teams ranked nationally inside the top 15. Jamestown has had some success running the football with Jimmy Hatch, who last season put up 769 rushing yards, averaging 4.6 per carry. On the other side of the ball, the Jimmies needed to see significant improvement against the run. They allowed 6.1 yards per rush last season, but have chopped that number down to 4.5 so far in 2018. Kittell’s squad also ended a long streak without an interception. It went the entire 2017 campaign without getting a single pick. Some turnovers forced on Saturday would be a boost for an offense that has scored a combined seven points over the past two weeks and ranks 82nd nationally in total offense.