Game Notes: Doane set for visit on 2023 senior day Saturday

By Jacob Knabel on Oct. 30, 2023 in Football

SEWARD, Neb. – The 2023 regular season home finale is on tap this week for the Concordia University Football program. After falling to Midland in a 39-37 double overtime heartbreaker this past Saturday, the Bulldogs hope to return to the win column against another in-state foe. The 68th all-time meeting between Concordia and Doane will kick off at 1 p.m. CT on Saturday from Bulldog Stadium. Prior to kickoff, 20 seniors will be honored. The Tigers got on the board with their first win of the season, triumphing over Mount Marty, 21-20, this past weekend.

The record isn’t what Head Coach Patrick Daberkow had hoped for in 2023. However, the Bulldogs can still salvage a .500 overall record if they can find a way to win their final two contests this fall. Concordia dug itself a 10-0 hole versus Midland before tying the game, 24-24, in the final seconds of regulation with Devin Zeigler’s touchdown. The Bulldogs had been coming off a bye week that followed a 44-23 win at Hastings.

Doane struggled to an 0-8 record this season before eking it out last week at home. The Tigers have averaged only 11.3 points per game but have managed to keep a number of games close. Three of their losses have come by one score margins. Chris Bessler is in his sixth season as head coach after previously serving as the program’s defensive coordinator. The Concordia-Doane series has been incredibly close over the past five seasons with four of the meetings decided by seven points or less.

Concordia (3-5, 3-5 GPAC) vs. Doane (1-8, 1-7 GPAC)
Saturday, Nov. 4 | 1 p.m. | Senior Day
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: 25.4 (50th)
Defensive PPG: 34.0 (68th)
Total Offense: 412.6 (23rd)
Pass Offense: 266.1 (12th)
Rush Offense: 146.5 (44th)
Total Defense: 426.8 (84th)
Pass Defense: 255.3 (89th)
Rush Defense: 171.5 (71st)
Turnover +/-: -7

Offensive PPG: 11.3 (87th)
Defensive PPG: 30.2 (58th)
Total Offense: 238.2 (86th)
Pass Offense: 154.1 (75th)
Rush Offense: 84.1 (79th)
Total Defense: 377.9 (64th)
Pass Defense: 234.4 (74th)
Rush Defense: 143.4 (52nd)
Turnover +/-: -7


Head Coach: Patrick Daberkow (30-36, 7th season)
Passing: DJ McGarvie – 170/297 (.572), 2,113 yards, 11 td, 10 int, 122.5 effic.
Rushing: Devin Zeigler – 158 rushes, 663 yards, 4.2 avg, 8 td
Receiving: Austin Jablonski – 75 receptions, 877 yards, 11.7 avg, 6 td
Defense: Kyle Sterup – 58 tackles, 14 tfl’s, 3 sacks, 2 ff, 1 fr, 1 blocked punt

Head Coach: Chris Bessler (22-35, 6th season)
Passing: Cruz Kirwan – 105/228 (.461), 1,142 yards, 6 td, 10 int, 88.0 effic.
Rushing: Trystan Graf – 66 rushes, 304 yards, 4.6 avg, 2 td
Receiving: Jeremiah Payne – 30 receptions, 325 yards, 10.8 avg, 2 td
Defense: Jarett Boggs – 63 tackles, 10.5 tfl’s, 3 sacks, 1 fr


Concordia (3-5, 3-5 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, L, 12-16 (homecoming)
9/30 vs. Briar Cliff, W, 35-23
10/7 at (3) Morningside, L, 6-62
10/14 at Hastings, W, 44-23
10/28 vs. Midland, L, 37-39 (2 OT)
11/4 vs. Doane, 1 p.m. (senior day)
11/11 at Mount Marty, 1 p.m.

Doane (1-8, 1-7 GPAC)
8/26 at Graceland, L, 17-42
9/2 vs. Dordt, L, 7-49
9/9 vs. Dakota Wesleyan, L, 10-17
9/16 at (1) Northwestern, L, 7-51
9/23 at Jamestown, L, 7-10
9/30 vs. (3) Morningside, L, 7-38
10/7 at Briar Cliff, L, 16-18
10/21 at Midland, L, 10-27
10/28 vs. Mount Marty, W, 21-20
11/4 at Concordia, 1 p.m.
11/11 vs. Hastings, 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. 51 and Doane at No. 72 in the NAIA. The Tigers last appeared in the top 25 in late October of 2017 when they checked in at No. 24.

GPAC preseason: 6th
Current Massey Ratings: 51st

GPAC preseason: 4th
Current Massey Ratings: 72nd

Last time out
An opportunity to win another rivalry game slipped through Concordia’s fingers. On a windy and frigid late October Saturday, the Bulldogs fell at the hands of Midland, 39-37, in double overtime. The Bulldogs took a 37-31 lead in the second OT when Austin Jablonski dropped a jump pass of six yards in to Daylan Russell for a touchdown. Four plays later, the Warriors evened the score on Kalynd Coats’ eight-yard touchdown run. The game then came down to a two-point try that was converted on a lateral back to Midland offensive lineman Callan Phillips, who rumbled into the end zone. Concordia lost despite posting 546 yards of total offense. DJ McGarvie finished 19-for-47 for 313 yards and two touchdowns through the air while becoming the program’s second quarterback to eclipse 6,000 career passing yards. On the ground, Concordia got 113 yards and a touchdown from Mark Arp and 90 yards and a touchdown from Devin Zeigler. Linebacker Michael Grindey paced the defense with 12 tackles, including one for loss. On the other side of things, the Bulldogs were burned by Midland running back Tyson Denkert, who rushed 31 times for 215 yards and a touchdown and returned a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown.

Senior Day at Bulldog Stadium
Prior to kickoff on Saturday, Concordia will celebrate 20 seniors (names listed below). That group includes fifth-year Bulldogs such as cornerback Carson Core and running back Devin Zeigler. Several of the seniors played a key role in the 2021 season that resulted in a 7-3 overall record.

Carsen Arline
Hunter Cole
Carson Core
Michael Doiel
Christian Dyhrkopp
Mason Edwards
Arcellous Heard III
Gabe Knisley
Jaxson Kant
Jordan Kavulak
Luke Lang
Caleb Matlock
Karsten McCarter
Gavin Mull
Charles Nshimiyimana
Devin Rathman
Christian Schlepp
Brady Soukup
Tyler Walford
Isaac Wilson
Devin Zeigler

State bragging rights
Concordia went 3-0 against in-state opponents in 2021 while defeating Doane, Hastings and Midland in the same season for the first time since 1970. Those results flipped in 2022 as the Bulldogs went winless against their rivals, falling to Doane, 12-10, Hastings, 21-17, and Midland, 41-31. While taking on the current string of three-straight games versus in-state foes, Concordia toppled Hastings, 44-23, before being clipped in double overtime by Midland, 39-37. Doane also was beaten by Midland, 27-20, in Fremont, on Oct. 21. The Tigers will end their 2023 season with two more in-state rivals, Concordia and Hastings.

Finishing Drives
Heading into this week, Concordia ranks 74th nationally in red zone scoring at 68 percent (23-for-34). The Bulldogs have scored touchdowns on 20 of their 34 red zone opportunities (and field goals on three of those drives). The points that the Bulldogs have left on the table have been part of the reason for close defeats that have come against the likes of Dakota Wesleyan and Midland. The lack of red zone success also helps explain why Concordia ranks 23rd nationally in total offense (412.6) but only 50th nationally in scoring offense (25.4). Last week against Midland, the Bulldogs had two empty red zone trips.

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 (who specializes in coaching the offensive line, among other duties). 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.

Jabo keeps hold of NAIA receptions lead
No GPAC team has been able to completely shut down Austin Jablonski, who has caught at least five receptions in all eight games in 2023. The Lincoln Pius X High School alum continues to lead the NAIA in catches with 75. He’s also totaled 877 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns following last week’s 11-catch, 157-yard outing versus Midland. For the second year as a Bulldog, Jablonski has pulled off the feat of catching, rushing and throwing for touchdowns in the same season. On the year, Jablonski has also rushed for 155 yards and has 192 kickoff return yards (1,224 all-purpose yards). A former University of Nebraska walk-on, Jablonski has reeled in 111 catches for 1,360 yards and nine touchdowns in 18 career games at Concordia. Should Jablonski hang onto his NAIA national lead in receptions, it would mark the second year in a row a Bulldog has accomplished that feat. Korrell Koehlmoos’ 95 grabs in 2022 paced the NAIA.

Jablonski game-by-game receiving numbers
9/2 vs. Northwestern: 9 for 122, 2 TD
9/9 at Jamestown: 5 for 85
9/16 at Dordt: 10 for 75
9/23 vs. DWU: 15 for 142
9/30 vs. Briar Cliff: 8 for 78
10/7 at Morningside: 6 for 56, TD
10/14 at Hastings: 11 for 162, 2 TD
10/28 vs. Midland: 11 for 157, TD

McGarvie eclipses 6,000 career passing yards, moves closer to school TD pass record
Lincoln North Star High School product DJ McGarvie made his 24th career start in the matchup with Midland. With 313 passing yards in that contest, McGarvie became the second quarterback in program history to eclipse 6,000 career passing yards (6,150). He recently moved past Rod Giesselmann (5,519) and Von Thomas (5,662) for No. 2 on the program’s all-time passing yards list. As it stands currently, McGarvie needs 286 more passing yards to break the school record held by Concordia Athletics Hall of Famer Jarrod Pimentel (6,435). McGarvie is also knocking on the door of breaking the program career passing touchdowns record of 49 shared by Pimentel and Thomas. McGarvie has fired 48 touchdowns (compared to 23 interceptions) in 27 career games. McGarvie’s school record of 458 passing yards in a single game came last season against Dordt. He has hit the 300-yard mark in six separate games in his career. McGarvie ranks second among GPAC quarterbacks for average passing yards per game (264.1) in 2023. 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. DJ McGarvie – 6,150
3. Von Thomas – 5,662
4. Rod Giesselmann – 5,519
5. Kurt Earl – 4,158

Concordia all-time passing touchdowns leaders
1. Von Thomas – 49
1. Jarrod Pimentel – 49
3. DJ McGarvie – 48
4. Rod Giesselmann – 47
5. Kurt Earl – 37

Around the league
Morningside’s string of winning 12 GPAC titles in a row is in jeopardy after the third-ranked Mustangs dropped a 34-20 decision in the snow at No. 1 Northwestern this past Saturday. The Red Raiders now stand alone atop the GPAC standings at 8-0. Morningside is second at 7-1 while Dordt is in third at 6-2. Both Northwestern and Morningside are virtual locks to qualify for the NAIA playoffs once again. Dordt may still have a chance to make a push for the NAIA’s 20-team playoff and a win this Saturday at Morningside would be a major resume builder. At the bottom of the league, Doane ended an eight-game skid by squeaking past Mount Marty, 21-20. From a place finishing standpoint, the best Concordia can hope for is to tie for fourth place in the GPAC.

Arp/Zeigler combined for more than 200 yards vs. Midland
Running backs Devin Zeigler and Mark Arp have been consistently productive this season behind an offensive line that has shown improvement from a year ago. Concordia ran a whopping 102 plays versus Midland and used 49 of them to hand the ball to either Zeigler or Arp. They combined for 203 yards. Arp rushed 24 times for 113 yards and a touchdown and Zeigler carried the ball 25 times for 90 yards and a touchdown. On the year, Zeigler has piled up 663 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 158 carries. Meanwhile, Arp has toted the rock 94 times for 383 yards and three touchdowns. Both backs are averaging at least 4.1 yards per carry. The team’s average of 3.8 yards per rush attempt is in line with its average of 3.8 in 2022. In his five seasons at Concordia, Zeigler has carried the ball 427 times for 1,666 yards and 13 touchdowns.

O-line made up of upperclassmen
The offensive line that Concordia has started in for the majority of this season (listed below) has featured four juniors and one senior in fifth-year Bulldog right guard Christian Schlepp. The line includes 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, Seth Moore and Nick Sazama. Daberkow has used as many as nine offensive linemen on the field at once in what the program dubs its “Rhino Package.” That formation was put to use on Devin Zeigler’s game-winning touchdown at Jamestown. Concordia also completed a fourth-and-one pass for a gain of 15 yards to tight end Daylan Russell out of that formation versus Briar Cliff.

Projected 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)

Youth movement in secondary
The secondary includes fifth-year Bulldog Carson Core (Seward High School product) at corner – and then a whole lot of youth. The defensive backfield two deep lists a number of players who are either freshmen or sophomores in Deegan Barnes, Braxton Borer, Daylan Henson, Luke Penrod, Will Potratz and Calvin Sassaman. Those Bulldogs have also contributed on special teams. Barnes blocked a punt in the 35-23 win over Briar Cliff. A starter this season for the first time in his career, Henson picked off a pass versus Briar Cliff. One void in the secondary had to be filled with the injury of Gabe Knisley (who hasn’t played since week two at Jamestown). Potratz has started three straight games at corner and was named GPAC Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 16.

Series vs. Doane
Prior to recent years, Doane had Concordia’s number, triumphing in 13 of the 14 meetings from 2006 through 2019. The two rivals first met in 1935 and have played each other 67 times. Doane leads the all-time series, 43-21-3. The Bulldogs have enjoyed more success in this rivalry under Patrick Daberkow, who is 3-3 against the Tigers. Concordia defeated Doane in 2017, 2020 and 2021. The victory in ’17 ended what had been an 11-game series win streak for the Tigers.

The matchup last season in Crete represented the season opener for both sides. The Tigers prevailed, 12-10, in a defensive grinder at Al Papik Field. The deciding points came with 1:21 left as Doane’s Kelen Meyer drilled a 47-yard field goal. The Tigers eked out the win despite being held to just 11 first downs and without a single touchdown. Austin Jablonski scored the game’s lone touchdown on a nine-yard rush in the first quarter. In the most recent matchup in Seward (in 2021), Concordia emerged a 20-13 victor with the help of Jorge Ochoa’s 23-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Scouting Doane
Doane has dipped to 1-8 this season while being outscored by its opponents by a combined total of 272-102. The Tigers picked up their first win of 2023 while getting past Mount Marty, 21-20, in an impressive comeback effort. Doane had trailed 20-0 early in the second quarter after having a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown. The rally was completed in the middle of the third quarter when Trystan Graf raced 58 yards for a touchdown. The Tiger defense allowed only 202 yards. This is Head Coach Chris Bessler’s sixth season at the helm of the program. Doane will finish with a losing record for the fourth time in the past five years. It’s been a challenge offensively for the Tigers, who rank 86th nationally in total offense and 87th in scoring offense. Defensively, it’s been a productive season for sophomore linebacker Jarett Boggs, who has collected 63 tackles, including 10.5 for loss. Doane also boasts a kicker with one of the NAIA’s most powerful legs. Kelen Meyer is 8-for-16 on field goals with a long of 56. He’s averaging 41.0 yards per punt.