Concordia University struggled early, and Northwestern College pulled away for a 35-10 GPAC football win on Saturday afternoon in Orange City, Iowa. Concordia turned the ball over six times and saw its 4-game winning streak come to an end, as Northwestern improved to 5-2 overall and 3-2 in conference play. The Bulldogs dropped to 4-3 overall and 3-2 in GPAC play.
It was a difficult beginning to the game, as Concordia quickly went three and out on their opening possession. Following a Bulldog punt, the Raiders were set up with excellent field position. Northwestern took advantage, and a Brandon Smith 2-yard touchdown run put the hosts on top by the score of 6-0. The Raiders used eight plays to march 54 yards for the opening score.
The extra point was no good, but the Raiders quickly tacked on two points with a safety on Concordia’s next possession. Bulldog quarterback Cohl Tufford (Richardson, Texas) was sacked in the end zone, and Northwestern grabbed an 8-0 lead.
Following the safety, Northwestern was again set up with tremendous field position, this time at the Concordia 47-yard line. The Raiders moved 32 yards in 10 plays, and a 27-yard Mike O’Brien field goal increased the Northwestern lead to 11-0.
At the beginning of the second quarter, Concordia recovered a fumble inside Northwestern territory. The Bulldogs moved the ball to the Raider 38-yard line but were unable to convert on a fourth down attempt. The Raiders took over possession and marched 60 yards in 11 plays to increase their lead to 18-0. Northwestern quarterback Davis Bloemendaal capped the drive with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Walker for the score.
Concordia was set up with excellent field position on their final three drives of the first half. The Bulldog offense continued to struggle, however, and Northwestern took the 18-0 advantage into halftime. Concordia managed just three first downs and 30 yards of total offense in the first half of play.
The second half started much better, as the Bulldog defense quickly forced a Northwestern three and out. Concordia again started their offensive drive with great field position, and the Bulldogs moved 34 yards in eight plays to get into field goal range. The big play of the drive was a 28-yard pitch and catch from Tufford to Derek Klaus (Beatrice, Neb.). Kenny Zoeller (Spring, Texas) connected on a 42-yard field goal to cut the Raider lead to 18-3.
The teams traded punts, but the Raiders struck again late in the third quarter. Concordia turned it over on a fumble recovered by Northwestern’s Aaron Jansen at the CU 19-yard line. On a third and goal play, Brandon Smith scored his second rushing touchdown of the game, this time from four yards out, and Northwestern grabbed a 25-3 lead.
The third quarter ended on a high note for the Bulldogs. Following the Northwestern touchdown, Concordia’s Jamarcus Walker (Houston, Texas) returned the kickoff 45 yards to set the Bulldogs up at the 50-yard line. Following a penalty and an incomplete pass, Tufford found Zack Warner (Palmyra, Neb.) on a 40-yard touchdown completion to make the score 25-10 heading into the fourth quarter.
Northwestern used a 74-yard punt to pin Concordia back on its own 1-yard line to open the fourth quarter. On Concordia’s first play from scrimmage, Tufford had his pass picked off by Chris Butler to give the Raiders the ball back inside the Concordia 10-yard line. Northwestern quickly capitalized with a 6-yard touchdown run by Theo Bartman to take a 32-10 lead.
The Bulldogs turned it over again on their next possession. Tufford fumbled, and Northwestern again was set up deep inside Bulldog territory. Mike O’Brien hit a 21-yard field goal to increase the Raider lead to 35-10. Concordia turned it over twice more down the stretch, and Northwestern secured the 35-10 victory.
In a matchup of the top two rushing teams in the GPAC, Northwestern totaled 171 rushing yards compared to just 64 for Concordia. Northwestern finished with 303 yards of total offense in the win. The Bulldogs totaled 192 yards of total offense. Turnovers plagued both teams. Northwestern lost three fumbles, while Concordia finished with six turnovers (three fumbles, three interceptions) in the loss. Concordia was just 3-of-10 on third downs and 0-of-2 on fourth downs in the contest.
Brandon Smith and Theo Bartman combined for 138 rushing yards and three scores for Northwestern. Davis Bloemendaal was 16-of-27 through the air for 132 yards and a score. Jordan Micalef was the top receiver for the Raiders with four catches for 51 yards. Isaiah Twitty had eight tackles, while Chris Butler, Matt Kroeze and Nate Van Ginkel all had interceptions for the Northwestern defense.
Tufford was 12-of-22 through the air for 128 yards. He had the touchdown pass to Warner, but also had three interceptions on the day. Klaus finished with three catches for 39 yards. Michael Voelker (Linn, Kan.) had eight tackles. Ben Klein (Dallas, Texas), Darnell Woods (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Micah Wagner (Omaha, Neb.) all added six stops for the Bulldogs.
Concordia hosts Nebraska Wesleyan University next weekend. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium.