Zeigler runs for three scores as Bulldogs rally for victory at Jamestown

By Jacob Knabel on Sep. 9, 2023 in Football

JAMESTOWN, N.D. – The Bulldogs possessed the ball for just 17:01 and trailed by as many as 10 points on a Saturday (Sept. 9) that did not quite go as scripted. Ultimately, the Concordia University Football team celebrated when Kyle Sterup’s sack came on a do-or-die final play of the game. The sack punctuated the comeback win for the Bulldogs, who emerged from Jamestown with a 27-23 victory. The Jimmies’ ability to play keep away from the Concordia offense nearly paid off.

Head Coach Patrick Daberkow’s squad needed the victory after dropping a shootout with No. 1 Northwestern in the season opener. The Bulldogs have now won five of the six all-time meetings versus Jamestown.

“Hats off to Jamestown. They’re a good football team,” Daberkow said. “This is a very tough place to play. Jamestown always presents some challenges. To be able to get out of here with a win, we’re happy. Obviously we want it to be cleaner than it was. One thing I’m encouraged by is that we made as big of mistakes as we could make in all three phases and we were resilient enough to delete them, move forward and come out of this place with a win.”

After the defense spent seemingly the entire first half on the field, the Concordia offense took advantage of its second half opportunities while riding strong-as-an-ox Devin Zeigler at running back. Zeigler finally gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the game when he raced 21 yards to the end zone on third and two. Concordia had erased what once was a 17-7 deficit and led, 27-23, with 1:41 left on the clock. Zeigler saved the day with a 124-yard, three-touchdown day in a career best performance.

On their last gasp, the Jimmies drove the ball to the Bulldog 18. On a fourth down play, with seven seconds left on the clock, Sterup threw Ty Monson to the turf for the game-clinching sack. Sterup registered two of Concordia’s seven sacks on an afternoon when the defense lined up for 83 plays. One week after struggling to stop the run, the Bulldogs stifled Jamestown to the tune of 31 yards rushing (with sacks factored in).

The frustration for the Concordia defense came from the short passing game of the Jimmies. Monson went 32-for-51 for 343 yards and two touchdowns. Eighteen of Jamestown’s 24 first downs were earned through the air. To compound matters, the Bulldogs had two passes intercepted and muffed a punt. The fumbled punt gave the Jimmies a first down in the red zone and resulted in a field goal that put Jamestown in front, 23-20, with 5:09 left to play.

On the ensuing game winning drive, Concordia hopped on the back of Zeigler and an improving offensive line led by the likes of fifth-year guard Christian Schlepp. The Bulldogs went 68 yards in nine plays (covering 3:28). Zeigler ran seven times for 52 yards on that final possession. The 5-foot-7 Houston native got stronger as the game wore on.

Said Daberkow, “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.”

Meanwhile, the passing game took a backseat compared to the 400-yard day DJ McGarvie enjoyed versus Northwestern. The Lincoln North Star High School product completed 12-of-17 passes for 185 yards at Jamestown. McGarvie also scored a touchdown on a one-yard plunge. His top target on the day was Austin Jablonski, who reeled in five grabs for 85 yards. Adam Van Cleave made two receptions for 58 yards, including a 53-yarder (longest play of the game for either side).

This was a step forward for the defense (other than allowing 11-for-20 on third down conversions). While Sterup registered two sacks, four of his teammates came through with a sack (and two others were involved in a half a sack): Michael Grindey (one), Stephen Hughes (one), Grant Huss (one) and Tal Solo (one). Jaden Seier (eight tackles and two pass breakups) and Isiaha Conner (seven tackles and two pass breakups) were active in the secondary. Jamestown finished with 374 total yards of offense.

Jamestown dropped to 0-3 (0-2 GPAC) with the tight defeat. Micah Madyun pulled in 11 receptions for 81 yards as part of a passing-oriented attack. Leading running back Zachariah Hammett was held to 27 yards on 14 carries. Hershell Jefferson and Keagan Schiele came away with a pick apiece.

Said Daberkow, “We were happy to be able to do what we had to do to get a win. Hats off to our offensive staff for being able to find something that worked as the game went along. It feels good to get a win. We expected to execute better. We’ll learn a lot from the film on this. We made some critical errors. We’ll learn from them and we won’t repeat them.”

Another trip north is on the docket next Saturday (Sept. 16) when the Bulldogs will play at No. 25 Dordt (2-0, 2-0 GPAC). Kickoff from Open Space Park in Sioux Center, Iowa, is set for 1 p.m. CT. The Defenders have won each of the past five series meetings with Concordia. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series, 9-6.