Morningside College, the No. 6 team in the nation, pulled away for a 28-7 GPAC football win over Concordia University on Saturday afternoon in Seward. The Mustangs used a 21-point second quarter to build the lead, and the Concordia offense continued to struggle. Morningside improved to 8-1 overall and 7-1 in GPAC play. Concordia lost its fourth straight to fall to 4-6 overall and 3-5 in the GPAC.
Morningside was forced to punt on their opening drive of the game. The Bulldogs picked up a few first downs and advanced the ball to the Mustang 44-yard line. However, the Morningside defense then came up with a huge play. Bulldog quarterback Cohl Tufford (Richardson, Texas) had a pass picked off by Colby Henderson. Henderson returned the interception 88 yards for a score to give the Mustangs the early 7-0 advantage.
Later in the first quarter, Concordia took advantage of some good field position to move deep into Mustang territory. The Bulldogs took over possession at their own 45-yard line following a Morningside punt of -4 yards. Completions from backup quarterback Von Thomas (Miami, Fla.) to Colten Quinabo (Wailuku, Hawaii) and Chris Smith (Houston, Texas) took the ball to the Morningside 15-yard line. However, Thomas missed on his next three pass attempts, and Concordia was forced into a 32-yard field goal attempt. The attempt by Kenny Zoeller (Spring, Texas) was blocked by Colby Henderson, and the Mustangs took over possession.
The Mustangs took a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter. Concordia was forced to punt from its own 39-yard line. The punt was blocked by Chris Tate, and Sean Elliott recovered the ball for the Mustangs at the Concordia 14-yard line. A 13-yard run by Dillon Robinson set the Mustangs up with first-and-goal from the 1-yard line, and Robinson took it in to give the Mustangs the 14-0 advantage.
The Bulldog offense continued to have a difficult time early in the second quarter. A fumble by Tufford set Morningside up at the Bulldog 28-yard line. Morningside didn’t waste any time, and quarterback Kyle Nikkel completed a 28-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Schuck for the 21-0 Morningside lead.
Following the Schuck touchdown reception, Concordia again went three-and-out on their next series. A 15-yard punt by Joseph Marshall (Malcolm, Neb.) again gave the Mustangs tremendous field position at the Bulldog 34-yard line. Schuck hauled in his second touchdown reception of the game, this time from 21 yards out, to boost the Mustang lead to 28-0. Concordia defensive back Darnell Woods (Phoenix, Ariz.) looked to have the pass intercepted in the end zone, but Schuck managed to wrestle the ball away from Woods for the score. Concordia had another field goal attempt blocked late in the second quarter, and Morningside took the 28-0 advantage into halftime.
On Concordia’s opening drive of the second half, the Bulldogs marched all the way to the Morningside 9-yard line. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs turned it over on downs following three straight incomplete passes by Thomas. Morningside responded with a long drive of its own and took the ball all the way to the Concordia 11-yard line. However, Nikkel was sacked on a fourth down play to give the ball back to Concordia. The game went to the fourth quarter with the score of 28-0.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Concordia finally punched one in. The Bulldogs used some big plays through the air to get on the scoreboard. Jamarcus Walker (Houston, Texas) caught an 11-yard pass from Tufford. Later in the drive, Tufford found Derrick Blessing (Ogallala, Neb.) on a 25-yard screen pass, and Tufford found Quinabo with a 23-yard reception to take the ball deep into Morningside territory. Chris Smith scored from six yards out to make the score 28-7.
The Bulldogs recovered an onside kick but were unable to move the ball. Morningside bled out the clock and secured the 28-7 victory.
Each team finished with 13 first downs in the contest. Morningside totaled 278 yards of total offense on the day (148 passing, 130 rushing). The Mustang defense forced three Concordia turnovers. Nikkel finished 12-of-23 through the air for 148 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Dillon Robinson finished with 98 rushing yards and a score. Robinson also caught a team-high four passes for 41 yards. Henderson was the star of the day defensively and on special teams for Morningside. He finished with the 88-yard interception return and a blocked kick. Marshall Barney had a team-high seven tackles for the Mustangs.
Concordia managed just 170 yards of total offense. The Bulldogs finished with no rushing yards on the day due to five Morningside sacks. Tufford was 7-of-15 through the air for 91 yards with two interceptions, while Thomas was 8-of-17 for 79 yards. Quinabo finished with six catches for a career-high 100 yards. Jerrod Fleming (Houston, Texas) and Michael Voelker (Linn, Kan.) each totaled a game-high nine tackles. Ben Klein (Dallas, Texas) added seven stops and an interception for the Bulldog defense.
Concordia hosts Doane College next Saturday in the final game of the year. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium.