Turnovers plague Bulldogs in lopsided loss at No. 19 Dordt

By Jacob Knabel on Sep. 16, 2023 in Football

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – An interception late in the first half led to three points for the opposition and swung the game in frustrating fashion for the Concordia University Football team. This time around, the Bulldogs were unable to overcome a negative turnover margin on the road. No. 19 Dordt used a strong defensive effort in sending Concordia packing with a 38-7 defeat on Saturday (Sept. 16). A fourth quarter touchdown by Carsen Arline prevented the Bulldogs from suffering a shutout.

Head Coach Patrick Daberkow’s squad has fallen to 1-2 with both losses coming at the hands of nationally ranked GPAC foes.

“We can’t play good teams, make the mistakes we made and come out with a win,” Daberkow said. “This really hurts. I thought we were better than this. I know we have a team that can perform better than we did today. We have guys who need to step up in practice this week and prove some things. We have to do a better job all the way around – taking care of the football and getting our defense off the field. All those things.”

Things snowballed in the second half when the Defenders (3-0) piled on 24 points. The contest ended in a lopsided score, but Concordia hung tight in the first half. Trailing only 7-0 late in the opening half, the Bulldogs drove to the Dordt 10 thanks to a 60-yard, 11-play drive. It concluded with DJ McGarvie’s pass being picked off by Ian MacDonald. Just before the break, the Defenders got a 40-yard field goal from Stephen Leinen to push the lead to 10-0.

It only got worse from there for the visitors, who couldn’t recover from surrendering 24 points off turnovers. Not only that, for the second week in a row, the opponent dominated time of possession. Dordt held the ball for 35:01 while churning out 216 rushing yards. Quarterback Kolson Kruse ran for 63 yards and found the end zone three times. Kruse’s 23-yard touchdown run on third and 20 proved to be a back breaker as the Defenders went up 17-0 in the third quarter.

On the defensive line, Osceola, Neb., native Kyle Sterup keeps wreaking havoc. He finished his day with 11 tackles, including 4.5 for loss. Sterup pushed his season tackle-for-loss total to 8.5. His fine play on Saturday helped keep Dordt to an average of 5.1 yards per play.

Said Daberkow, “I’m just so impressed with Kyle, his work ethic and the energy he brings to everything he does. He’s a very serious competitor. He’s always trying to find an edge. He works his tail off to be as good as he is. He’s an absolute menace up front. Really thankful to have him with us.”

The disparity in the run game was striking as Concordia finished with four net rushing yards after sacks were factored in. The duo of Devin Zeigler and Mark Arp was held to 47 yards on 19 carries. In the passing game, McGarvie finished 25-for-41 for 219 yards and a touchdown. However, he was hounded by a Defender defense that recorded seven sacks and intercepted four passes. Austin Jablonski led the receiver group with 10 catches for 77 yards while Arline added five grabs for 65 yards and a score. The lone Bulldog touchdown made it a 24-7 score in the fourth quarter.

Concordia played without receiver Adam Van Cleave and safety Gabe Knisley. Both players were sidelined by injury. On the defensive side of the ball, CJ Dyhrkopp, Carson Core and Michael Doiel did their best to pick up the slack with at least seven tackles apiece. Up front, Carson Fehlhafer produced the team’s lone sack. The Bulldogs entered the day hoping to claim their first road win over a top 25 opponent since defeating Sterling College (Kan.), 21-15, on Sept. 6, 2014.

The Bulldogs will be back at home next Saturday (Sept. 23) to host Dakota Wesleyan (2-1, 1-1 GPAC) for homecoming. Kickoff from Bulldog Stadium is set for 1 p.m. CT. Concordia has triumphed in five of the past six meetings with the Tigers. The contest will mark the 24th all-time series matchup between the two programs. Added Daberkow, “Anytime you’re embarrassed, it tests your mettle. You have to make decisions on what that says about me and where I’m going to go with this. We have to keep our eyes on the right thing. If you’re rooted in who Christ says you are, you don’t have to fear anything.”