Game Notes: Clash with DWU highlights homecoming Saturday

By Jacob Knabel on Sep. 18, 2023 in Football

SEWARD, Neb. – It’s homecoming on the Concordia University campus. After two weeks on the road, Head Coach Patrick Daberkow’s squad looks forward to back-to-back home games. The Bulldogs will welcome Dakota Wesleyan to Seward for Saturday’s contest at 1 p.m. CT. This will be the 24th all-time meeting between Concordia and DWU.

The Bulldogs will be glad to put last week’s outing in the rearview mirror. A game that had been tight throughout the first half at No. 19 Dordt spiraled out of control for the visitors. The Defenders piled up 24 points off four Concordia turnovers and ran away with a 38-7 victory. The loss dropped the Bulldogs to 1-2 with both defeats coming at the hands of nationally ranked GPAC opponents. In back-to-back away games, Concordia has been plagued both by turnovers and an inability to get its defense off the field.

On the flip side, Dakota Wesleyan has used a plus-six turnover margin to jump out to a 3-1 start. The three victories have already matched the team’s total from last season when the Tigers struggled to a 2-9 record. Head Coach Ross Cimpl is in his 12th season at the helm of a program that went .500 or better each year from 2010 through 2017. DWU is coming off its own homecoming, which resulted in a 33-32 win over Midland. The Tigers also defeated Doane, 17-10, the week prior.

Concordia (1-2, 1-2 GPAC) vs. Dakota Wesleyan (3-1, 2-1 GPAC)
Saturday, Sept. 23 | 1 p.m.
Bulldog Stadium | Seward, Neb.
Webcast: Concordia Sports Network
Live Stats: NAIA PrestoStats
Radio: 104.9 Max Country
Commentators: Parker Cyza and Ross Wurdeman
Online Tickets: HomeTown Ticketing (also sold on site)


Team Statistics
*2023 national rankings out of 96 NAIA football programs

Offensive PPG: 23.0 (T-52nd)
Defensive PPG: 36.3 (72nd)
Total Offense: 356.7 (T-45th)
Pass Offense: 271.7 (14th)
Rush Offense: 85.0 (77th)
Total Defense: 456.3 (83rd)
Pass Defense: 245.0 (T-69th)
Rush Defense: 211.3 (81st)
Turnover +/-: -6

Dakota Wesleyan

Offensive PPG: 22.5 (57th)
Defensive PPG: 19.8 (T-31st)
Total Offense: 316.0 (T-59th)
Pass Offense: 210.8 (46th)
Rush Offense: 105.3 (65th)
Total Defense: 339.3 (45th)
Pass Defense: 228.3 (63rd)
Rush Defense: 111.0 (36th)
Turnover +/-: +6


Head Coach: Patrick Daberkow (28-33, 7th season)
Passing: DJ McGarvie – 70/111 (.631), 815 yards, 4 td, 7 int, 124.0 effic.
Rushing: Devin Zeigler – 55 rushes, 255 yards, 4.6 avg, 4 td
Receiving: Austin Jablonski – 24 receptions, 282 yards, 11.8 avg, 2 td
Defense: Kyle Sterup – 31 tackles, 8.5 tfl’s, 2 sacks, 1 ff, 1 fr

Dakota Wesleyan
Head Coach: Ross Cimpl (62-59, 12th season)
Passing: Austin Lee – 66/110 (.600), 843 yards, 7 td, 4 int, 138.1 effic.
Rushing: Jamin Arend – 101 rushes, 353 yards, 3.5 avg, 3 td; 8 receptions for 90 yards
Receiving: Kiel Nelson – 19 receptions, 251 yards, 13.2 avg, 4 td
Defense: Adam DeJong – 15 tackles, 3 pbu’s, 2 int, 1 tfl, 1 ff


Concordia (1-2, 1-2 GPAC)
9/2 vs. (1) Northwestern, L, 35-48
9/9 at Jamestown, W, 27-23
9/16 at (19) Dordt, L, 7-38
9/23 vs. Dakota Wesleyan, 1 p.m. (homecoming)
9/30 vs. Briar Cliff, 6 p.m.
10/7 vs. (3) Morningside, 1 p.m.
10/14 vs. Hastings, 1 p.m.
10/28 at Midland, 1 p.m.
11/4 vs. Doane, 1 p.m. (senior day)
11/11 at Mount Marty, 1 p.m.

Dakota Wesleyan (3-1, 2-1 GPAC)
8/26 vs. Dakota State, W, 23-13
9/2 vs. Hastings, L, 17-24
9/9 at Doane, W, 17-10
9/16 vs. Midland, W, 33-32
9/23 at Concordia, 1 p.m.
9/30 at Mount Marty, 6 p.m.
10/14 vs. (3) Morningside, 1 p.m.
10/21 at Briar Cliff, 1 p.m.
1028 vs. Jamestown, 1 p.m.
11/4 vs. (1) Northwestern, 1 p.m.
11/11 at (19) Dordt, 1 p.m.

In the rankings
Concordia landed at No. 6 in the 2023 GPAC preseason coaches’ poll and has been off the national radar this season, in terms of the NAIA coaches’ poll. The program’s most recent top 25 appearance came in November 2017 when they checked in at No. 25. Current Massey Ratings list Concordia at No. 41 and Dakota Wesleyan at No. 51 in the NAIA. The Tigers last cracked the official top 25 poll in 2017 when they sat at No. 23 in the NAIA postseason poll.

GPAC preseason: 6th
Current Massey Ratings: 41st

Dakota Wesleyan
GPAC preseason: 10th
Current Massey Ratings: 51st

Last time out
An opportunity to make a statement presented itself last week as the Bulldogs played at No. 19 Dordt. Concordia managed to go toe-to-toe with No. 1 Northwestern in week one, but the performance last week fell flat. The Bulldogs were plagued by a minus-four turnover margin and another large disadvantage in time of possession (35:01 to 24:59). The disparity in the rushing game was striking as the Defenders led that category, 216-4. The Dordt defense picked off four passes and sacked Concordia quarterback DJ McGarvie seven times. Defender quarterback Kolson Kruse ran for 63 yards and three touchdowns. The bright spot for the Bulldogs was the play of Kyle Sterup, who posted 11 tackles and 4.5 stops for loss. A year after falling by just a single point (29-28) to Dordt, Concordia was beaten decisively, 38-7, in the 2023 meeting.

Homecoming at Concordia
Homecoming week has arrived at Concordia. As shown below, homecoming has typically been held in early October. Over the past 10 years, the Bulldogs have gone 8-2 in homecoming games with the only defeats during that stretch occurring in 2018 and 2022. Hastings spoiled homecoming of 2022 with a 21-17 win over Concordia. The schedule of activities for the 2023 homecoming week can be found HERE. On Friday evening, six individuals and one team will be inducted into the Concordia Athletics Hall of Fame. The 2022 hall of fame class includes the 1982-83 men’s tennis team, Amy (Ahlers) Allgood, Rick Dietze, Chandler Folkerts, Rod Giesselmann, Luther Klenke and Bailey Morris.

List 11 homecoming games
9/17/22 – Hastings | L, 17-21
10/2/21 – Dakota Wesleyan | W, 34-0
10/3/20 – Jamestown | W, 23-3
9/28/19 – Briar Cliff | W, 16-14
9/22/18 – Midland | L, 7-35
9/23/17 – (7) Doane | W, 29-18
10/8/16 – Briar Cliff | W, 56-0
10/10/15 – Nebraska Wesleyan | W, 47-14
10/4/14 – Dordt | W, 38-14
10/12/13 – (22) Nebraska Wesleyan | W, 19-3
10/13/12 – (11) Northwestern | W, 17-16

Kickoff time adjusted for Sept. 30 game versus Briar Cliff
The Concordia University, Nebraska Athletics Department has announced a change to the kickoff time for the home matchup versus Briar Cliff on Saturday, Sept. 30. Instead of a 1 p.m. start, the contest will get underway at 6 p.m. CT underneath the lights at Bulldog Stadium. It will be the lone night game of the 2023 season for Head Coach Patrick Daberkow's squad.

Coach Daberkow + staff
Patrick Daberkow’s history at Concordia dates back to his first season as a Bulldog football player in 2003. This is Daberkow’s 16th season as part of the program’s staff – seventh as head coach. He served as defensive coordinator for seven years before being named as head coach in December 2016. Daberkow assumed offensive play calling duties in 2022. Meanwhile, his full-time staff includes Defensive Coordinator Corby Osten, Special Teams Coordinator Trent Laune and Assistant Coach Grady Koch. A couple of significant additions to the staff this season are Kevin Crume (former Nebraska Wesleyan assistant) and Greg Nelson (former Lincoln Lutheran head coach). Daberkow’s record stood at 27-31 at the conclusion of six seasons. His most successful year was a 7-3 record in 2021.

Sterup enjoying monster start to 2023
Kyle Sterup has been the team’s unofficial MVP through the first three weeks of the season. The junior from Osceola, Neb., has been a handful for opposing offensive lines. He’s already racked up 31 tackles, 8.5 stops for loss, two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Sterup paced the defense last week at Dordt with 12 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss. He clinched the 27-23 victory at Jamestown with a sack on the game’s final play. Sterup enjoyed a fine 2022 season that saw him record 63 tackles, 11.5 stops for loss and five sacks.

McGarvie continues march towards top of passing charts
Lincoln North Star High School product DJ McGarvie made his 19th career start in the game at Dordt. In back-to-back road games, Jamestown and Dordt managed to make life difficult on McGarvie, who has been picked six times over the past two outings. This week offers a chance to get back on track at home. On the program’s all-time lists, McGarvie continues to rank No. 4 for both passing yards (4,852) and passing touchdowns (41). There are only four players in program history to have reached 5,000 passing yards, a plateau McGarvie could hit on Saturday. McGarvie’s school record of 458 passing yards in a single game came last season against Dordt. He is the leading returning passer in the GPAC in terms of passing yards per game (283.7 in 2022). According to Max Preps, McGarvie threw for 3,130 yards and 25 touchdowns in 26 career high school games at Lincoln North Star.

Concordia all-time passing yards leaders
1. Jarrod Pimentel – 6,435
2. Von Thomas – 5,662
3. Rod Giesselmann – 5,519
4. DJ McGarvie – 4,852
5. Kurt Earl – 4,158

Concordia all-time passing touchdowns leaders
1. Von Thomas – 49
1. Jarrod Pimentel – 49
3. Rod Giesselmann – 47
4. DJ McGarvie – 41
5. Kurt Earl – 37

Running game derailed by Dordt
After Devin Zeigler eclipsed 100 yards rushing in each of this season’s first two outings, Dordt kept the Concordia running game in check last week. After the seven sacks were factored in, the Bulldogs netted only four rushing yards. Zeigler and Mark Arp combined for 47 rushing yards on 19 attempts in Sioux Center, Iowa. Zeigler recorded the fourth 100-yard rushing game of his career in the win at Jamestown when he toted the rock 24 times for 124 yards and three scores. During the 2022 season, Zeigler eclipsed the century mark in wins over Mount Marty (113) and Briar Cliff (102). In his five seasons at Concordia, Zeigler has carried the ball 324 times for 1,258 yards and nine touchdowns.

After the win at Jamestown, Daberkow praised Zeigler in saying, “I’m proud of Devin. If it’s 100 degrees in July, he’s out there doing footwork drills by himself. If it’s 20 below and it’s in February, he’s in the gym doing footwork drills. He’s a squat rack guy. When two people collide, the squat rack wins. Devin squats 600 pounds, and he didn’t squat that when he came here. He’s worked really, really hard. I’m so proud of him.”

Jablonski the top target
The Concordia passing attack missed Adam Van Cleave last week. He sat out the game at Dordt due to injury. That meant even more targets for receivers Austin Jablonski and Carsen Arline. Jablonski led the team with 10 catches for 77 yards at Dordt. Meanwhile, Carsen Arline hauled in five passes for 65 yards and a touchdown. His eight-yard receiving touchdown in the fourth quarter prevented a potential shutout. Last season, the Bulldogs boasted the GPAC’s leader in receptions in Korrell Koehlmoos (95 catches for 1,024 yards and 12 touchdowns). Currently, Jablonski ranks second among GPAC players with 24 catches (for 282 yards and two touchdowns) behind only Northwestern’s Michael Storey (26 grabs for 318 yards and four touchdowns). Van Cleave caught 13 balls for 198 yards over the first two weeks of this season. Concordia hopes to have him back on Saturday.

Defense looking to shore up shortcomings
Defensive coordinator Corby Osten will expect his unit to improve as the season wares on. Through three weeks, the Bulldogs rank an uncharacteristic 83rd nationally in total defense with an average of 456.3 yards allowed per game. While Sterup has been incredibly productive at his defensive end spot, Concordia has shown leaks in surrendering 387 rushing yards to Northwestern, 343 passing yards to Jamestown and 216 rushing yards to Dordt. The absence of Gabe Knisley last week certainly did not help. In addition to Sterup’s 30 tackles, three other Bulldogs have accumulated at least 20 tackles: CJ Dyhrkopp (25), Isiaha Conner (22) and Michael Grindey (20).

O-line made up of upperclassmen
The offensive line that Concordia started last week (listed below) featured four juniors and one senior in fifth-year Bulldog right guard Christian Schlepp. The line also featured Cohen Carpenter and Blake Schlegel at the tackles, Tyler Walford at left guard and Jackson Anderson at center. Those five players average a weight of 277 pounds. Others who have seen action up front include Toby Hager, Nathan Miller and Seth Moore.

Last week’s starters
LT – No. 54 Cohen Carpenter, Jr. (6-4, 250)
LG – No. 69 Tyler Walford, Jr. (6-3, 300)
C – No. 56 Jackson Anderson, Jr. (6-1, 245)
RG – No. 58 Christian Schlepp, Sr. (6-2, 265)
RT – No. 74 Blake Schlegel, Jr. (6-6, 325)

Freshmen take over kicking game
Gone is last year’s kicker/punter combination of Ty Harold and Korrell Koehlmoos. In their place have steppeda group of freshmen. Special Teams Coordinator Trent Laune has turned to Peyton Atwood for placekicking, Jayson Guthard for punting and Admir Mujkic for kickoff duties. Atwood has gone 9-for-10 on PATs while missing his one field goal attempt (35 yards) through the first three weeks. Guthard has punted 10 times for an average of 26.7 yards per attempt.

Series vs. Dakota Wesleyan
The series has been closely contested with Concordia’s all-time record versus Dakota Wesleyan standing at 13-10. The first two meetings occurred prior to the formation of the GPAC in 2000. The Bulldogs defeated the Tigers, 36-29, in 1984 and then fell to them, 28-21, in 1985. The two programs finally met again in 2000 as GPAC members. From 2017 through 2019, Concordia defeated Dakota Wesleyan each year in matchups that took place in Seward. The Tigers got back on the winning side of the series in 2020 with a 28-17 victory in Mitchell, S.D. The Bulldogs rebounded with wins in 2021 (34-0) and 2022 (20-12). In last year’s meeting in Mitchell, Concordia trailed 3-0 at halftime before coming alive with a 20-point third quarter. DJ McGarvie threw for 255 yards and three touchdowns – all three of those scoring tosses went to Korrell Koehlmoos. Defensively, Devon Polley made an acrobatic interception and the Bulldogs limited DWU to 303 total yards.

Scouting Dakota Wesleyan
At 3-1, Dakota Wesleyan has enjoyed its best four-game start since going 5-0 to begin the 2015 season. Head Coach Ross Cimpl’s squad is in the process of outperforming its GPAC preseason poll positioning of 10th. All four Tiger games this season have been decided by margins of 10 points or less with the wins coming over Dakota State, 23-13, Doane, 17-10, and Midland, 33-32. DWU put together an impressive game-winning drive last week to defeat Midland. The Tigers marched 73 yards on 15 plays (milking 8:57 off the clock) and scored on Jamin Arend’s one-yard rush with 1:22 left on the clock. DWU has limited its opponents to 19.8 points per game behind returning First Team All-American defensive back Adam DeJong. The Tigers are aiming for their first winning season since finishing at 6-5 in 2017. Quarterback Austin Lee has taken a step forward and has thrown for 843 yards and seven touchdowns through four games.