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SEWARD, Neb. – A battle between two squads without their starting quarterbacks unfolded Saturday inside Bulldog Stadium. Concordia signal caller Andrew Perea flung an 82-yard touchdown pass on a flea flicker that gave his side a big early boost. Perea and the offense did just enough in a 14-9 victory over Dakota Wesleyan on a typical Nebraska October Saturday (Oct. 6).
Second-year head coach Patrick Daberkow got a big-time effort from his defense, which held the visiting Tigers to an average of 4.7 yards per play. The Bulldogs improved to 3-2 overall and to 2-2 in conference play.
“I couldn’t be prouder of what they did today,” Daberkow said. “Any time you have the ball on the plus side of the field and you make a decision to punt it away to make a long field for the offense, it’s a vote of confidence the defense. We really feel like that’s a good unit. Coach (Coby) Osten, Coach (Wes) Coomes, Coach (Ron) Jackson and Coach (Chris) Shipley – those guys are doing such a good job.”
The formula Concordia followed wasn’t completely unlike the one it used in wins over Buena Vista University (Iowa) and Jamestown. That script requires capitalizing on a couple of opportunities offensively, not turning the ball over and keeping the opposition out of the end zone. The Bulldogs checked those boxes and opened up with some fireworks. Concordia built a 14-0 advantage in the first quarter with the help of some explosive offensive plays.
The first one had been scripted in the days leading up to Saturday. After a little razzle-dazzle, Perea throw a strike downfield to freshman tight end Garrett Schardt, who made the catch while being contacted by a defender. He brushed the Tiger off him and sped to the end zone on an 84-yard connection. Daberkow took a page out of former head coach and current assistant Courtney Meyer’s playbook with something he dubbed the “criss cross special.”
“We practice that every day and we planned on doing it on the first play of the game,” said Schardt who has taken advantage of playing time that opened up with injuries to Logan Kreizel and Brady Fitzke at tight end. “It was designed for me and I was hoping I could get off the linebacker, catch the ball and score a touchdown. That’s how it worked out.”
After Ryan Durdon scampered 31 yards for a touchdown late in the first quarter, the Concordia offense went into ball control mode. That wasn’t such a bad thing considering the Bulldog defense, led by its gang tackling linebackers, held Dakota Wesleyan to 29 rushing yards on 25 attempts. Freshman quarterback Alex Pohlen and the Tigers still had a shot on their final offensive possession, but an interception by Kordell Glause sealed it with 1:15 remaining on the clock.
A star in his third season as a starter, Glause played safety for the second game in row. Depth at linebacker allowed for Glause to shift spots. Another proven standout, Lane Napier led the team with 12 tackles, including one for loss. It was also a big day for linebacker Derek Tachovsky (nine tackles – two for loss), who made a key stop on a fourth down try. From his defensive end position, Aaron Rudloff turned in an interception of his own.
Glause put up seven tackles and a sack to go with his interception. Said Glause, “We just had our guys all playing their one-eleventh. I’ll even take the blame on that one touchdown. But yeah, everyone stepped up and played their part today. That’s probably our best defensive performance of the year so far.”
Perea, who threw five touchdown passes last season, made his first start of the year. He finished 12-of-22 for 215 yards and a score. Schardt made his two catches count. He not only reeled in the long touchdown toss, he also had a catch that went for 21 yards (105 yards for the game). Top receiver Vincent Beasley pulled down four receptions for 71 yards. On the ground, Durdon carried the ball 28 times for 85 yards and a touchdown.
The highlight of the game for Dakota Wesleyan was an 84-yard touchdown pass from Pohlen to Spencer Neugebauer that made it a tight ballgame in the fourth quarter. Pohlen got the start in place of the injured Shaye Slaughter. He went 31-for-49 for 322 yards and a touchdown. Neugebauer caught 12 passes for 227 yards.
With injuries and youth on the offensive side of the ball, Daberkow and his staff understand that this is what wins may have to look like in 2018. Kemp may come back at some point this fall, but it’s Perea’s job at quarterback for now.
“Coach Corbin has done an outstanding job with our offense,” Daberkow said. “We’re having some difficulties right now, but we’re very young and we’ve had to move some guys to different positions. We keep on working and I think we’ll get there.”
The Bulldogs will make their way to Sioux City, Iowa, next week to take on Briar Cliff (4-2, 2-2 GPAC) in what will be a 1 p.m. CT kickoff from Bishop Heelan Memorial Field. In Saturday’s action, the Chargers fell at Jamestown, 34-32. Concordia is 12-2 all-time versus Briar Cliff.