Concordia to host No. 2 Northwestern as daunting stretch continues

By Jacob Knabel on Sep. 20, 2021 in Football

SEWARD, Neb. – For the third time in the season’s first four weeks, the Concordia University Football team will draw a 2020 NAIA playoff football qualifier. This week’s opponent, second-ranked Northwestern, advanced all the way to the national championship game this past spring. The Bulldogs hope to snap a four-game series losing streak to the Red Raiders when they go head-to-head on Saturday. Kickoff from Bulldog Stadium is set for 1 p.m. CT.

No team in the GPAC has begun this season with a more challenging first four weeks than Head Coach Patrick Daberkow’s squad. In last week’s matchup at No. 19 Dordt, Concordia hung tough for a half (7-7 at the break) before the Defender rushing game wore down the visitors. Dordt wound up with a hard-earned 281 rushing yards while pulling away for a 27-7 victory. The Bulldogs sputtered offensively, managing only 182 total yards. It was a stark contrast from the previous week when Concordia throttled Briar Cliff, 61-21.

Northwestern’s lone loss over its past 16 games came at the hands of Lindsey Wilson College (Ky.) in last season’s national championship game. Head Coach Matt McCarty’s squad has won handily in three of its first four games: 66-9 over Presentation College (S.D.), 45-13 over Hastings and 38-0 over Doane. The only exception was a 35-29 overtime squeaker at Midland on Sept. 11. In last week’s victory, the Red Raiders outgained Doane, 493-87. Quarterback Blake Fryar threw all four of his touchdown passes to Cade Moser.

Concordia (1-2, 1-2 GPAC) vs. No. 2 Northwestern (4-0, 3-0 GPAC)
Saturday, Sept. 25 | 1 p.m.
Bulldog Stadium | Seward, Neb.
Webcast/Live Stats: Concordia Sports Network
Radio: 104.9 Max Country
Commentators: Parker Cyza and Ross Wurdeman
Tickets: Concordia HomeTown Ticketing


Team Statistics
*2021 national rankings out of 98 NAIA football programs

Offensive PPG: 25.0 (T-47th)
Defensive PPG: 37.0 (T-69th)
Total Offense: 318.7 (58th)
Pass Offense: 224.7 (39th)
Rush Offense: 94.0 (71st)
Total Defense: 403.3 (60th)
Pass Defense: 260.7 (70th)
Rush Defense: 142.7 (46th)
Turnover +/-: +2

Offensive PPG: 46.0 (T-7th)
Defensive PPG: 12.8 (10th)
Total Offense: 438.5 (20th)
Pass Offense: 301.3 (14th)
Rush Offense: 137.3 (45th)
Total Defense: 223.3 (5th)
Pass Defense: 155.5 (16th)
Rush Defense: 67.8 (7th)
Turnover +/-: +4


Head Coach: Patrick Daberkow (17-24, 5th season)
Passing: DJ McGarvie – 24/47 (.511), 292 yards, 6 td, 1 int, 141.1 effic.
Rushing: Devin Zeigler – 48 rushes, 192 yards, 4.0 avg, 1 td
Receiving: Korrell Koehlmoos – 15 catches, 171 yards, 11.4 avg, 1 td
Defense: Lane Napier – 35 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tfl, 1 pbu

Head Coach: Matt McCarty (38-9, 6th season)
Passing: Blake Fryar – 50/80 (.625), 769 yards, 10 td, 1 int, 182.0 effic.
Rushing: Konner McQuillan – 39 rushes, 170 yards, 4.4 avg, 3 td
Receiving: Cade Moser – 18 catches, 357 yards, 19.8 avg, 6 td
Defense: Parker Fryar – 33 tackles, 1 tfl


Concordia (1-2, 1-2 GPAC)
9/4 at (3) Morningside, L, 7-63
9/11 vs. Briar Cliff, W, 61-21
9/18 at (19) Dordt, L, 7-27
9/25 vs. (2) Northwestern, 1 p.m.
10/2 vs. Dakota Wesleyan, 1 p.m. (Homecoming)
10/9 at Jamestown, 1 p.m.
10/16 at Mount Marty, 1 p.m.
10/23 vs. Midland, 1 p.m.
11/6 vs. Doane, 1 p.m.
11/13 at Hastings, 1 p.m.

Northwestern (4-0, 3-0 GPAC)
8/28 at Presentation, W, 66-9
9/4 vs. Hastings, W, 45-13
9/11 at Midland, W, 35-29 (OT)
9/18 vs. Doane, W, 38-0
9/25 at Concordia, 1 p.m.
10/2 at Mount Marty, 1 p.m.
10/16 at Jamestown, 1 p.m.
10/23 at Dakota Wesleyan, 1 p.m.
10/30 vs. (19) Dordt, 1 p.m.
11/6 vs. (3) Morningside, 1 p.m.
11/13 at Briar Cliff, 1 p.m.

Fan protocols/ticketing
Concordia is allowing full capacity within Bulldog Stadium and face coverings are optional. Tickets can be purchased at the stadium on game day or by visiting the athletic department’s HomeTown Ticketing page. Additional game day information for fans/media can be found HERE.

In the rankings
Based on the current NAIA coaches’ poll, No. 2 Northwestern will be the highest rated team that Concordia will play this fall. The Red Raiders have been a mainstay in the national rankings since bouncing back from a 3-7 campaign in 2016. Northwestern has finished inside of the top 12 of the NAIA each season since then: No. 2 in 2020, No. 10 in 2019, No. 12 in 2018 and No. 8 in 2017. The Red Raiders were picked second in the GPAC preseason poll, but they continue to be rated about Morningside in the national poll. The Bulldogs’ most recent top 25 appearance came in November 2017 whey landed at No. 25.

GPAC preseason: 5th
Current Massey Ratings: 50th

GPAC preseason: 2nd
Current Massey Ratings: 7th
NAIA Coaches’ Poll (Sept. 13): 2nd

Stymied by Dordt
After rolling up 61 points and 550 total yards on Briar Cliff in week two, Concordia slipped to seven points and 182 yards last week at No. 19 Dordt. The Bulldogs averaged a mere 2.6 yards per play against a Defender unit that now ranks sixth nationally in total defense (238.3). The Bulldog defense helped Concordia stay close until Dordt put up two third quarter touchdowns and pulled away with a 27-7 victory. The Bulldogs have dropped each of the past four matchups with the Defenders, who have made a big leap under the direction of Head Coach Joel Penner.

Napier on the tackle
Since the start of the 2017 season, Lane Napier has been as productive as any defensive player in the entire NAIA. The David City Aquinas Catholic High School product turned in another big performance last week by piling up 18 tackles (15 solo), a sack and a pass breakup at Dordt. In 38 career collegiate games, Napier has totaled at least 10 tackles 22 times and at least 15 tackles nine times. His career high for a single game was 23 tackles at Jamestown in 2019. Napier’s GPAC all-time record tackle total now stands at 436. Napier’s career has also included 35 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, eight pass breakups and an interception. He has been named First Team All-GPAC four times.

Napier, highest single-game tackle totals in career
23 – Jamestown, Oct. 5, 2019
22 – Morningside, Oct. 27, 2018
22 – Briar Cliff, Oct. 13, 2018
21 – Jamestown, Sept. 15, 2018
18 – Dordt, Sept. 18, 2021
18 – Hastings, Oct. 20, 2018

McGarvie makes first career start
Freshman quarterback DJ McGarvie got the nod last week as he supplanted third-year member of the program Wyatt Ehlers. McGarvie turned heads through the first two weeks by throwing for touchdowns on five of his first 11 pass attempts. Last week was a tough assignment against one of the NAIA’s top defenses. McGarvie went 14-for-36 for 109 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Ehlers eventually got snaps late in the game when Dordt had led by a comfortable margin. The combination of Ehlers and McGarvie has totaled 674 passing yards, seven touchdown passes and three interceptions. McGarvie’s older sister Caitlyn is a member of the Concordia Softball team.

Zeigler shoulders the load
With First Team All-GPAC running back Jonah Weyand sidelined the past two weeks, third-year back Devin Zeigler has stepped into a starting role. The 5-foot-6 native of Houston, Texas, rushed for 70 yards on 18 carries last week at Dordt. In the win over Briar Cliff, Zeigler toted the rock 26 times for 86 yards and a touchdown. The 86-yard performance represented a career high for Zeigler, who entered this season with 84 career rushing yards. He is the team leader with 192 rushing yards on the season. Weyand played week one at Morningside and rushed for 58 yards on 15 carries. Weyand needs 198 more yards to reach 1,000 for his career.

McGarvie to Beran connection
Receiver Cayden Beran has been a top red zone target for quarterback DJ McGarvie. The two have connected for a scoring play in each of the first three games of the season. McGarvie has found Beran for touchdown passes covering 11 yards in the fourth quarter at Morningside, 26 yards in the fourth quarter versus Briar Cliff and four yards in the second quarter at Dordt. A native of Hutto, Texas, Beran now has seven career touchdown catches. That total ranks second among current Bulldog pass catchers, behind only Korrell Koehlmoos (nine career touchdown receptions). Beran, Koehlmoos and tight end Garrett Schardt have emerged as the team’s most dangerous threats in the passing game.

Passing D stands tall
Concordia’s passing defense struggled mightily in the season opener, allowing the Mustangs to amass 515 yards and six touchdowns through the air. The results since that game have been much better. Briar Cliff posted just 144 passing yards and Dordt posted only 122 passing yards. In addition, the Bulldog secondary has come through with three interceptions over the past two weeks. Two of those have been snared by safety Gabe Knisley, who has been thrust into a starting role with two-time Second Team All-GPAC safety Peyton Mitchell sidelined. Corner Jazyen Armstrong also came up with a pick last week. The Concordia secondary faces another stiff test this week while up against Northwestern.

Bulldogs begin 2021 with GPAC gauntlet
There has been no easing into the 2021 season for the Bulldogs, who begin the campaign by playing three top 20-ranked NAIA teams in a span of four weeks. The schedule is a reverse of last season when Concordia played Northwestern, Dordt and Morningside in consecutive games in late October/early November. As things stand, those are the three teams the rest of the GPAC is trying to catch up to. Northwestern and Morningside met up last season in the NAIA national semifinals with the Red Raiders pulling it out in a wire-to-wire affair.

Series vs. Northwestern
Northwestern has had the upper hand, winning 29 of the first 43 meetings with Concordia in a series that began in 1960 (the first year of football at Northwestern). The Bulldogs’ most recent win over Northwestern occurred inside Bulldog Stadium in 2016 when they held off the Red Raiders, 9-7, in a defensive battle. Concordia made last year’s get-together a four-quarter battle. Trailing 23-17 in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs advanced the ball to the Northwestern 16 following an interception by Caydren Cox. Concordia’s attempt to take the lead was thwarted on an interception on fourth-and-7. The Red Raiders tacked on a late touchdown to make the final score 31-17. It was a monster day for tight end Garrett Schardt, who caught seven passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Isiaha Conner made nine tackles and an interception to lead the Bulldog defense.

Scouting Northwestern
The rest of the GPAC is thankful not to have to contend with star quarterback Tyson Kooima (at least right now), the 2020 NAIA National Player of the Year. Eligible to play another season (due to the COVID-19 waiver), Kooima suffered an injury in Northwestern’s national semifinal win over Morningside and has not played in 2020. Make no mistake, the offense is still a potent one with Blake Fryar now at the controls. The Red Raiders are averaging 46.0 points per game. At receiver, Cade Moser has been the big play guy with 357 receiving yards and six touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball, Northwestern boasts 2020 Second Team All-American safety Noah Van’t Hof. The defense has been stout, allowing 13 points or fewer in three of the team’s first four games. Northwestern has reached the NAIA playoffs in seven of the past nine seasons (including four in a row), so the expectations are high every year in Orange City. The possibility remains that Kooima could return at some point this season and make the Red Raiders a national championship contender once again. Since the start of the 2017 season, Northwestern has a gone a combined 43-8.