Dawgs edged by Warriors in wild double OT clash

By Jacob Knabel on Oct. 28, 2023 in Football

SEWARD, Neb. – There were plenty of numb fingers and chewed fingernails at the end of a cold and blustery Saturday (Oct. 28) inside Bulldog Stadium. Ultimately, it was a Midland offensive lineman finding the end zone on a two-point conversion that supplied the deciding points. The Concordia University Football team came up short, 39-37, in a double overtime clash featuring a little bit of everything. The Bulldogs forced overtime with Devin Zeigler’s one-yard touchdown plunge with 20 seconds left in regulation.

Head Coach Patrick Daberkow’s squad slipped to 3-5 (3-5 GPAC) with two games to go in the 2023 season. Concordia fell despite throwing for more than 300 yards and rushing for more than 200.

“I’m proud of the effort and the toughness our guys showed,” Daberkow said. “It’s hard to know what to say about it, but our guys fought hard and that’s all you can ask for. Our execution could have been better at times. I thought we played smart football. Ultimately, things didn’t go our way. It is what it is. Losing is tough. There’s not a real positive way to frame it, but it’s really important we don’t let this beat us twice. We have to move forward in a way that allows us to be successful next week.”

The Bulldogs took their first lead of the game in overtime No. 2 when Austin Jablonski dumped a jump pass over the top for a six-yard touchdown to tight end Daylan Russell, over the top of the Midland defense. Forced to try for two, Concordia failed and held a 37-31 advantage. Needing to answer, the Warriors got an eight-yard touchdown rush from Kalynd Coats. Midland had a trick up its sleeve as quarterback Jacob Jones took the shotgun snap and then threw across his body to left tackle Callan Phillips, who rumbled to the goal line for the winning two-point conversion.

Finally, the Warriors (6-4, 5-4 GPAC) had put away a Bulldog squad that kept on coming. Concordia trailed at various times by scores of 10-0, 17-7 and 24-17 before rallying to knot the score in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter. On the tying drive, the Bulldogs got a 13-yard rush from CJ Dyhrkopp on a unique play in which a Concordia punt went straight into the air and never crossed the line of scrimmage. Zeigler eventually cashed in on what was a 15-play, 70-yard touchdown drive.

That drive showed resilience on a day when the Bulldogs threw three interceptions, had two empty red zone trips and struggled to contain the explosive Tyson Denkert. The Warrior running back rushed for a 75-yard touchdown, returned a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown and covered 46 yards on a punt return. Midland failed to put Concordia away while missing three field goals – on attempts of 37, 28 and 47 yards. Any kick into the north end zone faced significant resistance from the winds that howled from that direction.

The loss overshadowed a productive day for the Bulldog offense, which racked up 546 total yards. Mark Arp rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries while Zeigler toted the rock 25 times for 90 yards and a score. In the passing game, DJ McGarvie went 19-of-47 for 313 yards and two touchdowns. He continues to regularly target Jablonski, who hauled in 11 more receptions for 157 yards and a touchdown. In addition, Luke Lang pulled in three catches for 65 yards and a touchdown and receivers Carsen Arline and Max Bartels snagged two receptions apiece.

The offensive line has played a major role in Concordia’s offensive success. Daberkow commended that group afterwards. The starters include Cohen Carpenter and Blake Schlegel at the tackles, Christian Schlepp and Tyler Walford at the guards and Jackson Anderson at center.

Said Daberkow, “Devin and Mark ran tough. I’m proud of our offensive line. It’s a group that doesn’t get enough credit, which is the way it is for an offensive line. They’ve played well this year. I would have loved to have celebrated a win in the locker room with those guys. We have to get back to work.”

Defensively, the Bulldogs surrendered some big plays, but they did limit Midland to going just 2-for-11 on third downs. Linebacker Michael Grindey paced that unit with 12 tackles, including one for loss. Up front, Devon Polley made 11 tackles (1.5 for loss). It was also an active day for Dyhrkopp, who collected eight tackles and forced a fumble. At corner, Will Potratz notched six tackles and broke up two passes. The one turnover forced by Concordia came following the game-tying touchdown when Midland fumbled the kickoff. That play gave the Bulldogs a couple of chances at winning in regulation.

The Warriors have ensured themselves of a winning season. With the injuries at quarterback (Teryn Berry left the game in the first half), Midland threw only 17 passes. It simply followed the lead of Denkert, who ran 31 times for 215 yards. The Warriors finished with 296 rushing yards and 434 total yards.

Notably, McGarvie became the second player in program history to eclipse 6,000 career passing yards (6,150 by game’s end). His 48 touchdown passes are just one off the career school record shared by Jarrod Pimentel and Von Thomas. As for Jablonski, he has pushed his season totals to 75 receptions for 877 yards and six touchdowns. He entered the weekend as the NAIA national leader for receptions.

The Bulldogs will be at home for the final time in 2023 when they welcome Doane (1-8, 1-7 GPAC) to Seward next Saturday (Nov. 4). Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. CT. Concordia will attempt to avenge the 12-10 loss it suffered to Doane in the 2022 season opener. The Tigers got on the board with their first victory this fall by way of a 21-20 home triumph over Mount Marty on Saturday.