YANKTON, S.D. – The Bulldog offense continued its late season scoring splurge while Devon Polley wreaked havoc in the backfield in Saturday (Nov. 11)’s 2023 regular season finale. The Concordia University Football team came away with a 45-21 win over Mount Marty at Crane-Youngworth Stadium in Yankton, S.D. Five different Bulldogs found the end zone, including linebacker CJ Dyhrkopp, who returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown.
Head Coach Patrick Daberkow’s squad won back-to-back games to close out the 2023 campaign while finishing at .500 overall (5-5). It marks the fourth time during Daberkow’s tenure that the program has gone .500 or better in a season.
“It’s a quality win,” Daberkow said. “Our guys have every reason to be excited heading into the offseason. We have a lot of momentum. Man, we’re close. Our guys see that. Something about defensive touchdowns makes it a little extra special. I’m proud of how the team played.”
All areas contributed to the victory in game No. 10. Concordia started fast with first-quarter touchdown drives of 76 and 69 yards, respectively, and never trailed at any point. One of the stories of the day was the ability of the Bulldog defense to rise to the occasion. The opportunistic defense got an interception apiece from Jaden Seier, Luke Penrod and Dyhrkopp and did not relinquish a first down on any of the six fourth-down attempts by the Mount Marty offense. The Columbus, Neb., native Dyhrkopp put a cherry on top of the entire season when he stepped in front of a Ken Gay pass and raced to the end zone.
This was the final career game for roughly 20 seniors, including fifth-year Bulldog Devin Zeigler. The Houston, Texas, native bulldozed his way to 120 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries. As part of the rushing tandem, Mark Arp ran for 52 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. Another solid outing for the offensive line paved the way for 361 yards of offense. Said Daberkow of Zeigler, “Devin is such a tough running back to corral. He’s got a low center of gravity and he squads 600 pounds. He’s a load to tackle. The way our offensive line is blocking and the way DJ is making decisions – our offense came together.”
A week after breaking all-time program passing records for touchdowns and yards, DJ McGarvie added two more scoring tosses. He fired touchdown strikes of 50 yards to Austin Jablonski and 14 yards to Daylan Russell. McGarvie completed his day going 14-for-26 for 165 yards with no turnovers. Once again, McGarvie was not sacked. Jablonski hauled in six catches for 101 yards while Carsen Arline made seven grabs for 50 yards (Daberkow praised Arline significantly afterwards for the Nederland, Texas, native sticking it out and becoming a major contributor). Once the lead grew to three scores, Concordia leaned heavily on the run game.
McGarvie wound up breaking one of his own records for a single season as his 2,676 passing yards in 2023 eclipsed the previous standard of 2,553 from 2022. McGarvie piloted a ’23 offense that racked up 303 points for the year for an average of 30.3 per game, marking the first time during the GPAC era (2000-present) that the Bulldogs have averaged at least 30 points.
The Concordia defense stood tall while on the field for 85 plays on Saturday. Linebacker Michael Grindey topped the team with 10 tackles (two for loss). Up front, Polley registered four tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. At linebacker, Michael Doiel posted a pair of sacks. In addition to his interception, Seier was credited with four pass breakups.
The Lancers finished the program’s third season of existence at 3-8 overall (2-8 GPAC). Concordia has won each of the first three all-time meetings with Mount Marty. The Lancers did manage to amass 395 yards on Saturday as Gay threw for 310 yards. Trevor Fitzgerald collected six receptions for 138 yards and a score. Mount Marty still had a sliver of hope in the fourth quarter when Isaiah Thompson’s one-yard touchdown run cut the deficit to 35-21. However, Peyton Atwood’s 20-yard field goal with 3:43 to play essentially iced the victory for the visitors.
The Bulldogs entered this season with dreams of making a run at an NAIA playoff berth. Concordia feels like it’s gotten closer, if only it can pull out some of the close ones. Daberkow remains confident in where the program is headed as the Bulldogs begin to look towards the 2024 season.
Said Daberkow, “I’m just so blessed to get to spend time with these guys and with this staff and represent this university. It’s fun to be part of. Winning is fun, but it’s not the ultimate thing. It’s fun to have something to hang your hat on and get the outcome we wanted. I’m just happy for our guys, proud of our team and excited for next season.”