SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – For one half, the Concordia University Football team was the equal of 2020 NAIA playoff qualifier Dordt. Linebacker Lane Napier and the Bulldog defense contained a potent Defender rushing attack before that ground game eventually wore the Bulldogs down over 60 minutes. No. 19 Dordt pulled away for a 27-7 victory in Sioux Center, Iowa, on Saturday (Sept. 18) while limiting Concordia to 182 total yards.
Head Coach Patrick Daberkow’s squad gave a better account of itself in its second opportunity on the road. The Bulldogs (1-2) were coming off a 61-21 home win over Briar Cliff.
“Our guys never quit,” Daberkow said. “On a hot day like this when you’re a little bit thin, you need guys to step up and toughen up through some things. I saw that happen. Defensively, I really loved the game plan Coach (Corby) Osten and staff put together. There were some 50-50 balls that didn’t go our way and we had some key money down stops that didn’t happen. Dordt is always a very unique opponent to prepare for. I thought we did a pretty good job through three quarters defending the run but hats off to them. They’re a good team.”
The Concordia defense came through with a series of key plays in a 7-7 first half deadlock. The half concluded with the Bulldogs stuffing Dordt running back Anthony Trojahn on third and goal at the one as the clock expired. In addition, Jayzen Armstrong and Gabe Knisley emerged with an interception apiece. The only Defender touchdown of the first half was aided by a short field. Josh Bush converted on a fourth and three with a 38-yard touchdown scamper.
Bush found the end zone again in the third quarter on a seven-yard rush and Kade McDaniel scored on the ground from 18 yards out later in the quarter. Dordt then added two field goals in the final period to salt the game away. The Defender rushing attack churned out 281 yards (4.8 yards/rush), led by 100 yards from Bush. Those totals amounted to plenty of enough offense with the Dordt defense dominating on the other side.
The Bulldogs pulled even at 7-7 midway through the second quarter when quarterback DJ McGarvie found receiver Cayden Beran for a four-yard touchdown strike. It marked the third time already this season that McGarvie and Beran have connected for six. That drive covered 51 yards on 12 plays. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whole lot else working for Concordia’s offense, which was suffocated to the tune of 66 total yards after halftime.
The freshman McGarvie made his first career start at quarterback after having played exceptionally well in relief appearances the previous two weeks. He went 14-for-36 passing for 109 yards, one touchdown and one interception. For the second game in a row, Devin Zeigler got the call at running back and carried 18 times for 70 yards. Beran caught five passes for 20 yards while tight end Garrett Schardt hauled in four receptions for 48 yards.
Dordt (2-1) is always going to get its yards on the ground. It had averaged nearly 330 rushing yards through the first two weeks of the season. At the same time, Napier and the Bulldogs are always up for a challenge. Napier notched a game high 18 tackles, a sack and a pass breakup in another starring performance at inside linebacker. Knisley added seven stops to go along with his interception while linebacker Caydren Cox also came up with seven tackles. Jorge Ochoa returned to the lineup and made five tackles.
Said Daberkow of Napier, “Our defense isn’t designed to funnel things to him. That’s what some people assume – that we just cover everybody up and let him scrape. Lane is a phenomenal football player. He’s tough as nails. He’s what we want the rest of our guys to embody – that hard-hat mentality. He’s constantly gutting through things that other people wouldn’t. He’s just a tough kid.”
McDaniel has been broken in as the Dordt quarterback after the graduation of star Noah Clayberg. On the other hand, Levi Jungling (one of the NAIA’s best receivers) returned for a fifth season of college football. Jungling made five catches for 73 yards and also had a 45-yard kickoff return on Saturday.
Another major challenge awaits next Saturday (Sept. 25) when Concordia will host No. 2 Northwestern (4-0, 3-0 GPAC), the 2020 NAIA national runner up. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. CT from Bulldog Stadium. The Bulldogs managed to make last year’s meeting in Orange City, Iowa, (31-17 Northwestern win) a four-quarter battle. Said Daberkow, “We’re going to find out the character of our team. I was proud of how they bounced back after our last loss and came out and played a complete game the next week. That’s what I expect as a coach from our guys. We’ll learn from it and move forward.”