Concordia to welcome Briar Cliff for home opener

By Jacob Knabel on Sep. 6, 2021 in Football

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University Football team will be happy to put last week behind it as it looks forward to its home opener. The Bulldogs will welcome Briar Cliff to town for a 1 p.m. CT kickoff from Bulldog Stadium on Saturday. During the 2020 season, Concordia split its four home games, earning wins over Hastings and Jamestown. In the home opener last season, the Bulldogs defeated Hastings, 34-28, in overtime behind five rushing touchdowns by Jonah Weyand.

Head Coach Patrick Daberkow’s squad could use a positive result to shake off last week’s 63-7 loss at No. 3 Morningside. Concordia struggled mightily to contain quarterback Joe Dolincheck and the Mustang passing attack. The Bulldogs managed to avoid being shutout thanks to a touchdown in the final minutes of action at Elwood Olsen Stadium in Sioux City, Iowa. Concordia still has not beaten Morningside since the 2003 season. The Bulldogs are 2-3 in season openers under Daberkow.

Shane LaDage has taken over as head coach of the Briar Cliff program after Dennis Wagner served that role the previous four seasons. The Chargers have been offensively challenged so far having totaled just six points (two field goals) through the season’s first two games. Briar Cliff lost at Waldorf University (Iowa), 30-3, on Aug. 28 before falling at home, 17-3, to Doane last week. The strength of the Chargers is on the defensive end. Briar Cliff went 1-8 last season.

Concordia (0-1, 0-1 GPAC) vs. Briar Cliff (0-2, 0-1 GPAC)
Saturday, Sept. 11 | 1 p.m.
Bulldog Stadium | Seward, Neb.
Webcast/Live Stats: Concordia Sports Network
Radio: 104.9 Max Country
Commentators: Parker Cyza and Ross Wurdeman


Team Statistics

*2021 national rank out of 99 NAIA football programs in parentheses (85 teams have played at least one game).

Offensive PPG: 7.0 (T-74th)
Defensive PPG: 63.0 (83rd)
Total Offense: 254.0 (T-74th)
Pass Offense: 181.0 (T-52nd)
Rush Offense: 73.0 (69th)
Total Defense: 63.0 (84th)
Pass Defense: 515.0 (85th)
Rush Defense: 137.0 (44th)
Turnover +/-: -1

Briar Cliff
Offensive PPG: 3.0 (T-81st)
Defensive PPG: 23.5 (T-34th)
Total Offense: 264.5 (65th)
Pass Offense: 220.0 (39th)
Rush Offense: 44.5 (77th)
Total Defense: 349.0 (T-39th)
Pass Defense: 230.5 (T-47th)
Rush Defense: 118.5 (33rd)
Turnover +/-: -4


Head Coach: Patrick Daberkow (16-23, 5th season)
Passing: Wyatt Ehlers – 13/24 (.542), 148 yards, 0 td, 0 int, 106.0 effic.
Rushing: Jonah Weyand –15 rushes, 58 yards, 3.9 avg, 0 td
Receiving: Cayden Beran – 3 catches, 80 yards, 26.7 avg, 1 td
Defense: Lane Napier – 12 tackles

Briar Cliff
Head Coach: Shane LaDage (0-2, 1st season)
Passing: Luke Davies – 38/79 (.481), 440 yards, 0 td, 5 int, 82.2 effic.
Rushing: Dawson Forcella – 28 rushes, 72 yards, 2.6 avg, 0 td
Receiving: Aaron Okoro – 7 catches, 158 yards, 22.6 avg, 0 td
Defense: MJ Montgomery – 12 tackles, 2.5 tfl’s, 1.5 sacks, 1 pbu


Concordia (0-1, 0-1 GPAC)
9/4 at (3) Morningside, L, 7-63
9/11 vs. Briar Cliff, 1 p.m.
9/18 at (14) Dordt, 1 p.m.
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.

Briar Cliff (0-2, 0-1 GPAC)
8/28 at Waldorf, L, 3-30
9/4 vs. Doane, L, 3-17
9/11 at Concordia, 1 p.m.
9/25 at Mount Marty, 1 p.m.
10/2 vs. Hastings, 1 p.m.
10/9 at Midland, 1 p.m.
10/16 vs. (3) Morningside, 1 p.m.
10/23 at Jamestown, 1 p.m.
10/30 vs. Dakota Wesleyan, 1 p.m.
11/6 at (14) Dordt, 1 p.m.
11/13 vs. (2) Northwestern, 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
Both Concordia and Briar Cliff entered this season off the national radar. In the GPAC preseason coaches’ poll, Concordia landed at No. 5 while Briar Cliff was picked 10th. The Bulldogs last cracked the NAIA top 25 in 2017 when they appeared as high as 20th. They finished the 2016 campaign at No. 19.

GPAC preseason: 5th
Current Massey Ratings: 66th

Briar Cliff
GPAC preseason: 10th
Current Massey Ratings: 81st

Bulldogs looking for bounce back
The season opener was not kind to Concordia, which allowed the most points in series history between the Bulldogs and Mustangs. Morningside outgained Concordia, 652-254, while dominating every statistical category. There will be better days ahead. The Mustangs have regularly had their way with conference opponents having put up 50 or more points 43 times since 2015. Concordia now plays an opponent it has beaten in back-to-back seasons.

Napier leads defense in game No. 1
Year five of his collegiate career is underway. Lane Napier got it started by recording a team high 12 tackles at Morningside. That performance pushed Napier’s career tackle total to 413, a number that stands as an all-time GPAC record. In addition, the All-American linebacker from David City, Neb., has posted career totals of 34 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, seven pass breakups and an interception. Napier has a chance to do something else never before done in the GPAC – be named a first team all-conference selection five times. Napier has plenty of experience surrounding him at linebacker in the form of Caydren Cox, Shayne Campbell and Jorge Ochoa.

Shutout avoided
It took a late scoring drive at Morningside to avoid the shutout. The drive was engineered by backup quarterback DJ McGarvie, who led Concordia on a seven-play, 70-yard scoring sequence. It was capped by an 11-yard touchdown throw from McGarvie to receiver Cayden Beran. A 47-yard reception by Beran from starting quarterback Wyatt Ehlers in the second quarter set the Bulldogs up with a first and goal at the Morningside 10. Unfortunately, Concordia lost a fumble on the next play and failed to score. The Bulldogs have not been shut out since a 35-0 loss at Dordt on Oct. 26, 2019.

Experienced offensive line
Four starters return on the offensive line. That group includes left guard Keegan Hornung, center Johnny Robinson III (second team All-GPAC), right guard Christian Schlepp (first team All-GPAC) and right tackle Gavin Mull. The new starter is left tackle Kaden Peters, a 6-foot-3, 270-pound native of Wood River, Neb. The group did manage to open up some holes in the running game last week. Jonah Weyand ran for 58 yards on 15 carries and backup Devin Zeigler rushed for 36 yards on four attempts. Concordia has room for improvement in pass protection. Morningside racked up seven sacks last week.

State of the defense
Despite last week’s results, the Bulldogs believe they will be competitive on defense. Very few teams nationally are able to hold Morningside’s potent offense in check. A season ago, Concordia allowed 25.4 points per game and 384.2 yards per game. In Patrick Daberkow’s time with the program (player from 2003-06 and coach since then), the team’s best defense may have been the 2013 squad that allowed just 17.3 points per game. Daberkow served as the defensive coordinator at that time. The Bulldogs have allowed 27.5 points per game or less in every season since 2009.

New specialists
Concordia has a new kicker and punter this season. A big play threat as a receiver and kickoff returner, Korrell Koehlmoos is also now the team’s punter. This past Saturday, Koehlmoos punted nine times for an average of 37.1 yards per attempt. Two of his punts were downed inside the 20. Daniel Cantu has been tasked with handling the place kicking and kickoffs. Cantu did not see a lot of action last week, but did convert his only PAT attempt. Last season’s kicker, Jordan Spilinek, went 6-for-10 on field goals and 18-for-20 on extra points.

Koehlmoos, Beran headline receiver group
Korrell Koehlmoos and Cayden Beran were the most active receivers in the passing game last week in Sioux City. The two standout pass catchers have both piled up more than 1,000 career receiving yards (see list below). In addition, both Bulldogs are on the cusp of reaching 100 career receptions. Koehlmoos has run his total to 95 career grabs while Beran has hauled in 88 receptions as a Bulldog. A native of Pilger, Neb., Koehlmoos was named a First Team All-GPAC honoree last season after he caught 25 passes for 533 yards and three touchdowns.

Most Receiving Yards, Career
2,495 – Jared Garcia (2014-17)
2,458 – Ross Wurdeman (1998-01)
2,011 – Clarence Woods (1984-88)
1,974 – Eric Pralle (1987-91)
1,880 – Travis Soukup (1991-94)
1,692 – Jim Young (1964-67)
1,430 – Korrell Koehlmoos (2018-- )
1,141 – Cayden Beran (2018-- )

Series vs. Briar Cliff
The series between Concordia and Briar Cliff dates back to 2003 when the Chargers played their inaugural football season. The Bulldogs are 15-3 all-time versus Briar Cliff. Concordia won 11-straight in the series until the Chargers snapped the string in 2018 with a 23-14 victory. The Bulldogs got back on the winning side of the series the past two seasons via a 16-14 homecoming squeaker in 2019 and then a 24-9 triumph in Sioux City in 2020. In last season’s matchup, Concordia’s defense dominated, holding Briar Cliff to 171 total yards. Chase Hammons and Logan Kreizel both came up with two sacks in the win. Korrell Koehlmoos caught three passes for 104 yards and a touchdown and Lyle Whitney paced the ground attack with 73 yards and a touchdown.

Scouting Briar Cliff
Head Coach Shane LaDage has been tasked with reviving the program after Briar Cliff went 1-8 in 2020. Just two years earlier, the Chargers posted a 6-5 mark. The scoring struggles from last season have spilled over into 2021. Briar Cliff averaged only 9.6 points per game in 2020 and still has yet to find the end zone this season through two outings – losses to Waldorf and Doane. A player to watch out for on the Charger defense is lineman MJ Montgomery, an honorable mention All-GPAC choice last season. He has notched 12 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks over the season’s first two games. There will be a heavy burden placed on the defense until quarterback Luke Davies and the offense can get on track. The lack of offensive production has stood out, in addition to the team’s minus-four turnover margin. Briar Cliff’s wins over Concordia in series history have come in 2005, 2006 and 2018. The 2005 season marked the only time the Chargers have won at Bulldog Stadium.