Game Notes: Week three brings road trip to No. 19 Dordt

By Jacob Knabel on Sep. 11, 2023 in Football

SEWARD, Neb. – Following a come-from-behind win at Jamestown, the Concordia University Football team will get another crack at a top 25 opponent this week. The Bulldogs will be back on the road for Saturday’s matchup at No. 19 Dordt. Kickoff in Sioux Center, Iowa, is slated for 1 p.m. CT in what will be the 16th all-time meeting between the two sides. Head Coach Patrick Daberkow’s squad evened up its record at 1-1 while shaking off a 17-7 halftime deficit last week at Jamestown.

The contest was a lesson that nothing comes easy on the road in the GPAC. Somehow, Concordia found a way to win a game that saw it endure a minus-three turnover disadvantage and allow the Jimmies to hold the football for 42:59 in time of possession. Devin Zeigler’s third touchdown run of the day capped the scoring and made the Bulldogs a 27-23 winner. The exploits of Zeigler were crucial after Concordia ran only 14 offensive plays in the first half.

Now in his eight season as head coach, Joel Penner guides a Defender squad that has handled its first two opponents decisively. Dordt has beaten Doane, 49-7, and Mount Marty, 49-20. In the home victory last week over Mount Marty, Dordt outgained the Lancers, 449-323, and got three touchdown passes from quarterback Kolson Kruse. The defense has been opportunistic with the Defenders having picked off seven passes over the first two weeks of the season. Dordt will enter Saturday’s matchup having won five straight series meetings with the Bulldogs.

Concordia (1-1, 1-1 GPAC) at No. 19 Dordt (2-0, 2-0 GPAC)
Saturday, Sept. 16 | 1 p.m.
Open Space Park | Sioux Center, Iowa
Webcast: Defender Network
Live Stats: SIDEARM Sports
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: 31.0 (T-34th)
Defensive PPG: 35.5 (69th)
Total Offense: 424.0 (22nd)
Pass Offense: 299.0 (9th)
Rush Offense: 125.0 (44th)
Total Defense: 494.0 (88th)
Pass Defense: 285.0 (78th)
Rush Defense: 209.0 (81st)
Turnover +/-: -2

Offensive PPG: 49.0 (5th)
Defensive PPG: 13.5 (T-11th)
Total Offense: 430.0 (14th)
Pass Offense: 210.0 (39th)
Rush Offense: 220.0 (11th)
Total Defense: 283.0 (27th)
Pass Defense: 223.5 (61st)
Rush Defense: 59.5 (T-10th)
Turnover +/-: +6


Head Coach: Patrick Daberkow (28-32, 7th season)
Passing: DJ McGarvie – 45/70 (.643), 598 yards, 3 td, 3 int, 141.6 effic.
Rushing: Devin Zeigler – 43 rushes, 226 yards, 5.3 avg, 4 td
Receiving: Austin Jablonski – 14 receptions, 207 yards, 14.8 avg, 2 td
Defense: Kyle Sterup – 19 tackles, 4 tfl’s, 2 sacks, 1 ff, 1 fr

Head Coach: Joel Penner (48-27, 8th season)
Passing: Kolson Kruse – 24/33 (.727), 288 yards, 5 td, 0 int, 196.0 effic.
Rushing: Brendan Pieper – 28 rushes, 146 yards, 5.2 avg, 3 td
Receiving: Isaac Looker – 7 receptions, 119 yards, 17.0 avg, 0 td
Defense: Ian MacDonald – 13 tackles, 3.5 tfl’s, 1 sack, 1 pbu


Concordia (1-1, 1-1 GPAC)
9/2 vs. (1) Northwestern, L, 35-48
9/9 at Jamestown, W, 27-23
9/16 at (25) Dordt, 1 p.m.
9/23 vs. Dakota Wesleyan, 1 p.m. (homecoming)
9/30 vs. Briar Cliff, 6 p.m.
10/7 vs. (4) 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.

Dordt (2-0, 2-0 GPAC)
9/2 at Doane, W, 49-7
9/9 vs. Mount Marty, W, 49-20
9/16 vs. Concordia, 1 p.m.
9/30 at Hastings, 1 p.m.
10/7 vs. Midland, 1 p.m.
10/14 at Jamestown, 1 p.m.
10/21 at Northwestern, 1 p.m.
10/28 vs. Briar Cliff, 1 p.m.
11/4 at Morningside, 1 p.m.
11/11 vs. Dakota Wesleyan 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. 38 and Dordt at No. 16 in the NAIA. The Defenders were ranked No. 25 in the official NAIA preseason poll released on Aug. 21. They moved up to No. 19 in the poll unveiled on Monday (Sept. 11).

GPAC preseason: 6th
Current Massey Ratings: 41st

GPAC preseason: 3rd
Current Massey Ratings: 16th

Last time out
The Bulldogs played the second half of last week’s game at Jamestown like a team determined to avoid slipping to 0-2. Concordia trailed 17-7 at halftime as the Jimmies consistently moved the chains via the passing arm of Ty Monson, who went 32-for-51 for 343 yards and two touchdowns on the day. The Bulldogs ran only 14 offensive plays in the first half and overcame a minus-three turnover margin and a massive disadvantage in time of possession (42:59 to 17:01). The 5-foot-7 running back Devin Zeigler came to the rescue and posted career highs of 124 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Concordia finally took its first lead of the game when Zeigler took a third and two carry 21 yards for a touchdown with 1:41 left on the clock. On the ensuing possession, Kyle Sterup clinched the win with his second sack of the day. The Bulldogs exhaled with a 27-23 win.

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.

McGarvie continues march towards top of passing charts
Lincoln North Star High School product DJ McGarvie made his 18th career start in the win over Jamestown. The way the game played out, the dynamics did not lend themselves to a prolific passing day. McGarvie completed 12-of-17 passes for 185 yards with two interceptions. On the program’s all-time lists, McGarvie continues to rank No. 4 for both passing yards (4,635) and passing touchdowns (40). There are only four players in program history to have reached 5,000 passing yards, a plateau McGarvie figures to hit in the coming weeks. 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 – 4,635
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 – 40
5. Kurt Earl – 37

Zeigler carries the mail
Concordia’s backfield got a major boost when Devin Zeigler returned this fall for a fifth season of college football. The 5-foot-7 native of Houston, Texas, packs a punch. He’s gone over 100 yards rushing in back-to-back weeks and has already found the end zone four times in 2023. Zeigler recorded the fourth 100-yard rushing game of his career this past week 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 312 times for 1,231 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.”

Sterup emerges as playmaker
Osceola, Neb., native Kyler Sterup has come through with major impact plays in each of the first two weeks of the season. The 6-foot-5 defensive end forced and recovered a fumble at the goal line in the game versus No. 1 Northwestern. A week later, Sterup registered 11 tackles, three stops for loss, two sacks and a pass breakup as Concordia gritted out the win at Jamestown. Sterup clinched the victory with a sack on the very last play of the game in North Dakota. Sterup enjoyed a fine 2022 season that saw him record 63 tackles, 11.5 stops for loss and five sacks. The defensive line also features 2022 Second Team All-GPAC run stuffer Devon Polley, who made 15 tackles for loss last season. The other starter alongside Polley and Sterup so far this season has been Carson Fehlhafer, who started several games on the offensive line in 2022 after injuries struck that unit.

Jablonski the top target
While the running of Devin Zeigler became the story of last week’s win, Austin Jablonski enjoyed a strong day at receiver. He caught five passes for 85 yards at Jamestown as DJ McGarvie’s top target. A 32-yard reception by Jablonski set up a one-yard touchdown rush for Zeigler in the first quarter. After starting at quarterback the first two games of the 2022 season, the former University of Nebraska walk on moved to receive and has thrived in that role. In 12 career games at Concordia, Jablonski has pulled in 50 receptions for 690 yards and five touchdowns. He has also thrown for three touchdowns and rushed for three scores in a Bulldog uniform. The receiving core also features standouts in Carsen Arline and Adam Van Cleave and tight end Luke Lang. That group has helped McGarvie rack up 598 passing yards through two weeks.

Defense makes adjustments in run game
Following the rough defensive performance against No. 1 Northwestern, Daberkow wanted to see the Concordia defense show more discipline in its run fits. The rush D was much better last week as the Bulldogs limited top Jamestown running back Zachariah Hammett to 27 yards on 14 carries. As a team, the Jimmies netted only 31 rushing yards on 32 attempts. The Concordia defense also got after Jamestown quarterback Ty Monson, bringing him down for seven sacks. Corby Osten coordinates a unit that finished last season ranked 67th nationally in total defense (369.4) and 50th in scoring defense (25.3). The leading tacklers so far in 2023 include the likes of Isiaha Conner (19), Sterup (19), Gabe Knisley (17) and CJ Dyhrkopp (17).

O-line paves way for back-to-back 100-yard rushing games
The passing game popped last season and the ground game improved enough to churn out 3.8 yards per carry. The Bulldogs would like to see that number move above 4.0 behind a more experienced (and hopefully healthier) offensive line. A First Team All-GPAC honoree in 2020, Christian Schlepp is back for a fifth year inside the program. The projected starting five averages a weight of 283 pounds with tackles who stand at 6-5 and 6-6, respectively. The experienced returners also include Jackson Anderson, Toby Hager, Nathan Miller, Gavin Mull and Blake Schlegel. The biggest loss here is 2022 Second Team All-GPAC award winner Kaden Peters. Others who have seen action in 2023 are Cohen Carpenter and Seth Moore. Unfortunately, Mull has been sidelined by injury.

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 8-for-9 on PATs while missing his one field goal attempt (35 yards) through the first two weeks. Guthard has punted six times for an average of 25.3 yards per attempt.

Series vs. Dordt
Concordia had won nine of the first 10 meetings with Dordt until the Defenders got the best of the Bulldogs in each of the past five seasons, 2018 through 2022 (the other victory in the series for Dordt came in 2008). That leaves the all-time series at 9-6 in favor of Concordia. Last year’s meeting in Seward could have gone either way. Ultimately, Dordt eked out a 29-28 victory. The winning score came on a 20-yard field goal with 4:10 remaining in the game. The turning point in the game came in the third quarter (score tied 7-7) when the Defenders blocked a field goal and took it 78 yards for a touchdown. That play helped Dordt overcome DJ McGarvie’s school record 458 yards passing (and four touchdown tosses). The Defenders pounded it out on the ground with 253 rushing yards on 60 attempts. The Bulldogs’ most recent win in this series was a 24-17 decision at Dordt in 2017.

Scouting Dordt
Dordt’s football program inaugurated in 2008 and did not win more than two games in a season until Joel Penner arrived as head coach. Penner immediately transformed the Defenders and has led the program to at least seven wins in five straight seasons coming into 2023. Dordt broke through with an NAIA playoff appearance in 2020. The Defenders’ scoring average dipped from 43.8 in 2021 to 28.7 in 2022, but they appear to be dangerous again in 2023. At its best, Dordt devastates the opposition with the running game. The Defenders are averaging 220.0 rushing yards per game through the first two weeks behind running back Brendan Pieper (146 rushing yards) and quarterback Kolson Kruse (109 rushing yards). Meanwhile, the defense has limited the opposition to just 2.0 yards per rush attempt. Among the team’s headlining returners from 2022 is First Team All-GPAC defensive lineman Jessup Leakey, a fifth-year player who measures in at 6-2, 270 pounds. Dordt was picked third in the 2023 GPAC preseason coaches’ poll.