CRETE, Neb. – Missed opportunities and the leg of Doane kicker Kelen Meyer resulted in the winning streak for the Concordia University Football team falling by the wayside. Meyer’s 47-yard field goal with 1:21 left on the clock lifted the Tigers to a 12-10 victory over the Bulldogs in a matchup played underneath the lights at Papik Field in Crete, Neb., on Saturday (Sept. 3). Two empty red zone trips in the first half came back to haunt Concordia, which had beaten Doane in 2020 and 2021.
Head Coach Patrick Daberkow is now 3-3 versus the Tigers during his tenure. The Bulldogs entered the 2022 season with a six-game winning streak, tied for the second longest among all NAIA football programs.
“I was proud of our defense,” Daberkow said. “Hats off to a great special teams performance by Doane. There was no margin for error. We have to do better in the red zone in games like this.”
The Bulldogs dominated a good portion of the first half with Austin Jablonski leading the way in his first career start at quarterback. Jablonski rushed nine yards for a first quarter touchdown (the lone touchdown for either team), completing a four-play drive that covered 46 yards. Unfortunately, that’s where Concordia’s red zone success ended.
The next two offensive possessions for the Bulldogs marched as far as the Doane 19- and 6-yard lines, respectively, before resulting in a missed 36-yard field goal try and then a blocked 23-yard field goal attempt. By that point in the game, Concordia had run 26 plays for 112 yards while the Tigers had run 15 plays for 37 yards without gaining a single first down.
Even without Lane Napier and the veteran 2021 linebacker core, the Bulldogs proved they still have a stout defense. Linebacker Michael Grindey paced that unit with 13 tackles and a forced fumble. Lukas Coe and Kyle Sterup registered a sack apiece and collectively, the Concordia D made 11 stops in the Doane backfield. In addition, Isiaha Conner recovered a fumble forced by Kam Baker to thwart a Tiger drive in the fourth quarter.
With the Bulldogs clinging to a 10-9 lead late in the fourth quarter, the Doane offense got the one big play it had to have – a 33-yard pass completion from Michael Pulliam to Jeremiah Payne. That play put the Tigers at the Concordia 34 and eventually led to Meyer’s game-winning kick. On the evening, Meyer nailed field goals from 21, 39, 45 and 47 yards.
That was enough to make Doane a winner despite it never finding the end zone. The Tiger defense, spearheaded by All-American lineman Ty Barbazon, stifled the Bulldogs throughout the second half. Jablonski finished 9-for-28 for 83 yards as the passing attack struggled to find consistency. The Lincoln Pius X High School alum topped all players with 95 yards rushing on 21 attempts. Starting running back Devin Zeigler ran 13 times for 42 yards. Luke Lang reeled in four receptions for 29 yards while Daylan Russell snagged two passes for 33 yards.
The potential is there for Jablonski, a transfer from the University of Nebraska. The passing game missed two-time First Team All-GPAC tight end Garrett Schardt, who hopes to be back in two weeks.
“I thought his athleticism certainly showed,” Daberkow said of Jablonski. “He’s a good leader. Ultimately, we’ve got to find a way to run the ball. I have faith in our staff and in our players to get that figured out. We have some things to fix obviously. Any time you hold a team to no touchdowns and you don’t come out with a win, something’s wrong. We have to figure out how to right the ship.”
Doane star tailback Frazzie Wynn carried the ball 21 times for 79 yards with a long of 31. Pullliam completed 16-of-24 passes for 172 yards.
One game into the slate, the Bulldogs have a bye next week before welcoming Hastings (1-1, 0-1 GPAC) to Seward for homecoming on Saturday, Sept. 17. Kickoff from Bulldog Stadium that day is set for 1 p.m. CT. Concordia will be aiming to extend a three-game series win streak over the Broncos. For more information about the 2022 homecoming celebration, click HERE.