Napier achieves career milestone; Bulldogs fall in 2020 finale

By Jacob Knabel on Nov. 21, 2020 in Football

MITCHELL, S.D. – A season of forward progress for Concordia University Football concluded on Saturday (Nov. 21) afternoon in Mitchell, S.D. The offense for the Bulldogs was held out of the end zone in the second half in what amounted to a 28-17 loss at the hands of Dakota Wesleyan. With the Midland game wiped out, this represented the 2020 season finale for Concordia.

Fourth-year Head Coach Patrick Daberkow’s squad dropped the final four games on its schedule and wrapped up at 4-4. The three previous losses all came against conference foes positioned for potential playoff appearances.

“I’m proud of our guys for putting in the everyday work,” Daberkow said. “Eventually you want to see that translate into the win-loss column – and it did a little bit – but not nearly as much as it felt like it was going to there for a while. When we take a loss, we have to figure out how to get back after it and bounce back in a better way. This is a tough conference.”

No one playing college football in 2020-21 will be charged with a season of competition. In other words, Bulldog senior linebacker Lane Napier could come back next fall. Whether this was the end or not, Napier will go down as one of the program’s all-time greats. The tackling machine made 14 stops on Saturday to run his career tackle total past the 400 mark. Napier piled up 31 tackles over the final two games of 2020.

Unfortunately, the Tiger offense had just enough octane to knock off the Bulldogs. Dakota Wesleyan took advantage of short fields for touchdown drives of 59 and 58 yards in the second half. Tiger quarterback Zachary Lester threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns while Jamin Arend ran for 102 yards and a score. The Tigers (4-5) effectively bounced back after starting the season at 0-3.

Concordia held a lead for roughly 10 minutes of game time during the second quarter. It capped a 78-yard scoring drive with Cayden Beran’s 29-yard touchdown grab from quarterback Blake Culbert. The Bulldogs then took the lead (14-7) early in the second quarter when Jonah Weyand powered into the end zone from three yards out, finishing off a 55-yard drive. It marked Weyand’s ninth touchdown this season.

Weyand rushed for 79 yards on 22 carries for the day. Culbert went 18-for-33 for 224 yards (one touchdown and one interception). Beran enjoyed a season best performance with 108 receiving yards on eight catches. Reliable tight end Garrett Schardt hauled in three receptions for 56 yards.

While Napier again paced the team in tackles, Payton Kidder collected a pair of sacks from his defensive end position. Linebacker Stirling Tonniges also notched a sack and safety AJ Jenkins registered eight tackles. Turnovers were even at one apiece.

In his postgame exchange with 104.9 Max Country, Daberkow left the door open for members of the senior class to return next fall, if they so choose. Said Daberkow, “Everybody who follows Bulldog Football knows about Lane Napier, but they might not know about the progress of a guy like Peyton Mitchell or Lane Castaneda … we’ve got a whole bunch of guys that will sacrifice the spotlight for other people. I wish I wouldn’t have started naming names because I’m leaving guys out. I would love to get all of them back. A lot of them have good job opportunities, which is part of this experience. We’ll see – we’ll let the dust settle on this season and go from there.”

Some football programs around the NAIA will play their regular seasons in the spring. The NAIA playoffs will begin in April 2021 for the 16 teams that qualify. The Bulldogs will hope to have more of a normal spring routine, which would mean a series of practices.