Explosive plays spark bounce back win at Hastings

By Jacob Knabel on Oct. 14, 2023 in Football

HASTINGS, Neb. – The dynamic playmaking abilities of Austin Jablonski and Carsen Arline and a scoop and score for freshman Will Potratz allowed the Concordia University Football team to pull away from Hastings in the second half of the annual rivalry clash. The Bulldogs started fast in both halves on their way to a 44-23 victory over Hastings on a chilly, misty Saturday (Oct. 14) afternoon at Lloyd Wilson Field. Jablonski found the end zone three times in another fine performance.

Head Coach Patrick Daberkow’s squad (3-4, 3-4 GPAC) turned it around following a defeat last week at No. 3 Morningside. The matchup with the Broncos is the first of three in a row against in-state GPAC opponents.

“Any time you can get a win on the road, you take it, no matter what it looks like,” Daberkow said. “I thought today was one of the cleaner games we’ve played all season. I was proud of the guys. I thought all three phases contributed. It’s fun to come to Hastings, an in-state rival, and walk out with a win. It kind of felt tighter than the score ended up being.”

The host Broncos rallied from an early 14-0 deficit while enjoying a dominant second quarter. A 33-yard field goal from Peyton Atwood edged Concordia in front, 17-16, at the half. The final 30 minutes were controlled by the Bulldogs, who found their best playmaker in Jablonski. His 57-yard touchdown reception from DJ McGarvie and two-yard touchdown rush (completing an 85-yard drive) extended the lead to 31-16. Disaster then struck for Hastings early in the fourth quarter when Devon Polley forced a fumble that freshman Will Potratz scooped up and took 10 yards to the end zone.

Quarterback Carson Kudlacek and the Hastings offense managed to pile up more than 400 yards and kept the game in doubt to some degree with a 59-yard scoring strike in the fourth quarter. Trailing 38-23, the Broncos mustered another red zone trip that resulted in no points. Three players later, Concordia put the game on ice with McGarvie’s toss to Arline for a breakaway 89-yard touchdown connection.

The passing game clicked for the Bulldogs in a way that it hadn’t since the season opening shootout with No. 1 Northwestern. McGarvie completed 20-of-31 passes for 332 yards and three touchdowns. The monster day for Jablonski resulted in 11 receptions for 162 yards and three total touchdowns (two receiving and one rushing). Jablonski entered the contest leading all NAIA players in receptions. Arline also went over 100 yards receiving (109 on three grabs) and running back Marp Arp had a catch for 40 yards. Devin Zeigler paced the rushing attack with 73 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.

The starting offensive line that kept McGarvie from being sacked all game included tackles Cohen Carpenter and Blake Schlegel, guards Christian Schlepp and Tyler Walford and center Jackson Anderson. By game’s end, McGarvie moved up to No. 2 on the program’s all-time passing yards list with 5,837 for his career.

Said Daberkow, “We felt like we had some things in the first half that we were really close to hitting on offensively. DJ did a really good job today. He stepped up in the pocket and the o-line did a really good job protecting today. That’s a tough defensive line. Those guys are big and physical. To be able to run the ball and capitalize on some things in the passing game was a real bonus.”

Hastings (3-5, 2-5 GPAC) took advantage at times of a young Concordia secondary, but the Bulldogs made their share of plays defensively. Concordia held the Broncos out of the end zone after a first-and-goal at the one in the first quarter and came away with the aforementioned defensive touchdown. While making his second career start, Potratz collected 12 tackles, in addition to the scoop and score. Up front, Kyle Sterup wreaked havoc with 11 tackles, two stops for loss, a sack, a forced fumble and a blocked punt and Polley (three tfl’s) and Carson Fehlhafer (2.5 tfl’s) combined for 5.5 tackles in the backfield. Meanwhile, linebacker Michael Grindey made 10 tackles and was credited with 1.5 sacks.

The Broncos did almost all of their damage in the passing game as they were held to 43 net rushing yards on 40 attempts. The Hastings signal caller Kudlacek completed 30-of-50 passes for 368 yards and an interception (which went to defensive back Jaden Seier). All three of Kudlacek’s touchdown tosses went to Ethan Wilborn, who snagged eight receptions for 161 yards.

Both teams relinquished a turnover on special teams. On the plus side for Concordia, Atwood made his lone field goal attempt and was 5-for-6 on PATs. Additionally, one of Jayson Guthard’s punts was downed inside the 20.

This was the 56th all-time series meeting between the Bulldogs and Broncos. Concordia has won seven of the last 11 matchups, including each of the last three played at Lloyd Wilson Field.

Following seven game day Saturdays in a row, the Bulldogs will have a bye next week. Concordia will be back inside Bulldog Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 28 when it is slated to host Midland (4-4, 3-4 GPAC) at 1 p.m. CT. The matchup will represent the 71st all-time meeting between the Bulldogs and Warriors. Last year’s contest went Midland’s way in a 41-31 score in Fremont.

Added Daberkow, “A week seven bye is a beautiful thing because you can use it to get some guys healthy, which we hope can happen. We have two more in-state rivals and Mount Marty coming up. Every week in this conference is a dogfight. I was proud of how we played today and had some freshmen step up. We had some freshmen make some big plays. They rose to the occasion.”