SEWARD, Neb. – It took three quarters, but the Bulldog offense finally got rolling in time to make things a bit more interesting on senior day (Nov. 3) at Bulldog Stadium. With a large deficit to cut into, quarterback Andrew Perea broke a school single-game record with 455 passing yards to go along with three touchdown tosses. But the hill was too big to climb. Sixth-ranked Northwestern left Seward with a 42-28 victory.
Second-year head coach Patrick Daberkow’s squad has dropped four GPAC games in a row and is now 3-6 overall and 2-6 in conference play. Concordia has gone up against the league’s top two teams in back-to-back weeks.
“You go through the coulda, woulda, shouldas,” Daberkow said. “You can drive yourself crazy doing that because we have really missed a lot of opportunities in the red zone this season. It’s always a little frustrating when you know how much you’re leaving out there offensively and defensively and how many things we’re close to, but we’re not quite executing.”
In the final quarter, the Bulldogs found the type of offensive production they have been seeking all season. Over the final 15 minutes, Perea delivered a 41-yard touchdown pass to freshman Korrell Koehlmoos and then a 37-yard scoring strike to senior Vincent Beasley. A few minutes later, Ryan Durdon cruised seven yards for a touchdown to capitalize on a botched Red Raider punt snap.
It just wasn’t enough on a day when Concordia failed to convert on four of its six chances in the red zone. The Bulldogs were stopped on downs at the Northwestern eight-yard line in the second quarter and came up empty on their first possession of the second half after having a first-and-goal at the three. If that weren’t enough, Perea just overshot Beasley on a potential touchdown on another chance at a fourth and goal late in the third quarter.
Those missed opportunities doomed the Bulldogs while up against a potent Red Raider offense led by sophomore quarterback Tyson Kooima. He had a big day of his own, throwing for 336 yards and two touchdowns. He also galloped 54 yards for a rushing touchdown on the game’s first possession. It didn’t help Concordia’s cause that Northwestern (8-1, 7-1 GPAC) racked up 206 rushing yards, including 147 by star back Jacob Kalgonis (four total touchdowns). On the strength of their high-powered attack, the Red Raiders led 42-7 after three quarters.
For a program that has more often been built around hard-nosed defenses, the Bulldogs had a historic day through the air. In the process of setting a new program single-game standard for passing yards, Perea connected often with Beasley and Koehlmoos. Beasley caught nine passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Koehlmoos hauled in six receptions for 162 yards and a touchdown. Out of the backfield, Durdon made two grabs for 68 yards.
Concordia had to go to the air because the rushing game sputtered once again. Durdon ran 14 times for 18 yards. As a team, the Bulldogs managed only 17 yards rushing. Northwestern outgained Concordia, 542-472, for the game.
Defensively, sophomore linebacker Lane Napier again topped Concordia by making 12 tackles (1.5 for loss) while boosting his NAIA leading total. Cornerback Darius McVay made nine stops, broke up three passes and came up with a pick in the end zone.
The 2018 season will come to a conclusion next Saturday (Nov. 10) when the Bulldogs head to rival Doane (5-4, 4-4 GPAC) for a 1 p.m. CT kickoff from Papik Field in Crete. Last year Concordia celebrated its homecoming by snapping an 11-game series losing streak to the Tigers. The Bulldogs topped then seventh-ranked Doane, 29-18.
“We’re going to look to do what we did in the fourth quarter for an entire game,” Daberkow said. “We haven’t talked much about Doane. We’re trying to take things one week at a time. We’re emptying the tank every week. Doane will be a good game. It’s a rivalry game. It’s all about playing well up front and executing on the offensive line. If we can do that, we’ll have a shot.”