SEWARD, Neb. – Following an unexpected Saturday off, the Concordia University Football team will return to action. The Bulldogs face their stiffest challenge yet in 2020 with a trip to Northwestern up next. Saturday’s kickoff from Orange City, Iowa, is set for 1 p.m. CT. Head Coach Patrick Daberkow’s squad remains at 4-0 after last week’s scheduled game at Dakota Wesleyan was postponed. Last time out, Concordia earned a 23-3 homecoming win over Jamestown.
Prior to last week, the Bulldogs had played each of their first four GPAC games as scheduled. In addition to the victory over Jamestown, Concordia owns wins over Doane, Hastings and Briar Cliff. Daberkow has the program out to its first 4-0 start since 2013. Based on the GPAC preseason poll, the road ahead will be a difficult one. The Bulldogs have not claimed victory in Orange City since 2002.
Head Coach Matt McCarty would like to continue that trend. His Red Raiders had a bye last week, following a 48-40 shootout win at Dordt. Northwestern stands at 2-1 with its only loss being a competitive 45-31 defeat at defending NAIA national champion Morningside. Concordia’s defense has been stout so far, but it hasn’t faced a quarterback as dynamic as Tyson Kooima (3,007 passing yards and 33 total touchdowns in 2019). Northwestern boasts the nation’s top-rated pass offense. McCarty has led the Red Raiders to the NAIA playoffs in three-straight years.
Concordia (4-0) at Northwestern (2-1)
Saturday, Oct. 17 | 1 p.m.
De Valois Stadium | Orange City, Iowa
Webcast: Red Raiders All-Access
Radio: 104.9 Max Country
Commentators: Evan Jones and Ross Wurdeman
*2020 national rank in parentheses
NOTE: 47 of the 95 NAIA football programs that intend to play in 2020-21 have started their seasons.
Offensive PPG: 26.3 (22nd)
Defensive PPG: 11.8 (5th)
Total Offense: 395.5 (15th)
Pass Offense: 230.0 (15th)
Rush Offense: 165.5 (18th)
Total Defense: 253.3 (8th)
Pass Defense: 157.0 (10th)
Rush Defense: 96.3 (11th)
Turnover +/-: +3 (T-8th)
Offensive PPG: 43.0 (T-8th)
Defensive PPG: 33.7 (32nd)
Total Offense: 545.3 (2nd)
Pass Offense: 370.0 (1st)
Rush Offense: 175.3 (15th)
Total Defense: 473.0 (40th)
Pass Defense: 277.0 (42nd)
Rush Defense: 196.0 (34th)
Turnover +/-: -6 (T-43rd)
2020 INDIVIDUAL LEADERS
Head Coach: Patrick Daberkow (16-18, 4th season)
Passing: Blake Culbert – 68/129 (.527), 920 yards, 5 td, 0 int, 125.4 effic.
Rushing: Jonah Weyand – 65 rushes, 384 yards, 5.9 avg, 7 td
Receiving: Korrell Koehlmoos – 16 catches, 345 yards, 21.6 avg, 2 td
Defense: Chase Hammons – 11 tackles, 5 tfl’s, 5 sacks
Head Coach: Matt McCarty (32-14, 5th season)
Passing: Tyson Kooima – 46/75 (.613), 1,009 yards, 10 td, 3 int, 210.3 effic.; 211 rushing yards, td
Rushing: Konner McQuillan – 22 rushes, 100 yards, 4.5 avg, 2 td
Receiving: Cade Moser – 16 catches, 367 yards, 22.9 avg, 4 td
Defense: Parker Fryar – 28 tackles, 2 tfl’s
Concordia (4-0, 4-0 GPAC)
9/12 at Doane, W, 24-7
9/19 vs. Hastings, W, 34-28 (OT)
9/26 at Briar Cliff, W, 24-9
10/3 vs. Jamestown, W, 23-3
10/17 at Northwestern, 1 p.m.
10/24 vs. Dordt, 1 p.m.
11/7 vs. Morningside, 1 p.m.
11/14 at Midland, 1 p.m.
11/21 at Dakota Wesleyan, 1 p.m.
Northwestern (2-1, 2-1 GPAC)
9/12 at Morningside, L, 31-45
9/19 vs. Dakota Wesleyan, W, 50-16
10/3 at Dordt, W, 48-40
10/17 vs. Concordia, 1 p.m.
10/24 at Doane, 1 p.m.
10/31 vs. Midland, 1 p.m.
11/7 at Hastings, 1 p.m.
11/14 vs. Briar Cliff, 1 p.m.
11/28 at Jamestown, 1 p.m.
Fan protocols for Northwestern can be viewed HERE. The Red Raider Athletic Department is limiting capacity to 50 percent in its football stadium. Consistent with GPAC rules, fans in attendance must wear face coverings. Fans will be allowed to enter the stadium 90 minutes prior to kickoff. Tickets can be purchased on site on game day. Fans are encouraged to review visiting venue protocols prior to departing for road games.
In the rankings
The GPAC Preseason Football Coaches’ Poll was unveiled on Aug. 26. Concordia landed at No. 7 (37 points) while Northwestern was placed second in the league (73 points; one first-place vote). The poll resembled the final 2019 standings. The NAIA has not released a single national poll this year. In the current Massey Ratings, the Bulldogs appear at 30th while the Red Raiders check in at eighth. Concordia last appeared in the national rankings in the preseason of 2017 when it was rated 20th. Northwestern has been a regular in the top 25. The Red Raiders were ranked 10th in the 2019 NAIA postseason poll after falling in the first round of the NAIA playoffs.
GPAC preseason: 7th
Current Massey Ratings: 30th
GPAC preseason: 2nd
Current Massey Ratings: 8th
4-0 conference starts, GPAC era
Records of 4-0 or better in conference play have been rare for Concordia Football during the GPAC era (2000-present). In that time period, only two previous Bulldog squads won each of their first four GPAC games: the 2001 and 2013 editions. The ’01 team is arguably the greatest in program history. That particular team began the year at 7-0 inside the conference (8-0 overall) before suffering a 20-16 home loss to Hastings. The 2013 team got to 5-0 in the GPAC (6-0 overall) before a 30-28 defeat at Northwestern.
Previous 4-0 conference starts in GPAC era
2001 (final record: 10-2; shared GPAC title)
2013 (final record: 7-4; tied for 5th in GPAC)
What opposing coaches are saying
The comments below were taken from pregame interviews play-by-play voice Evan Jones conducted leading up to matchups with Concordia.
Chris Bessler, Doane
(Lane Napier) is a good one. You’ve got to get a body on that guy. He’s a good football player and he’s going to make plays. You have to know where he’s at all the time and what they’re trying to do with him … I anticipate them trying to establish a running game and a quick passing game and try to take control of the tempo of the game.
Tony Harper, Hastings
Concordia is one of the most physical teams in the conference … Every time you talk about Concordia – and I don’t care who is there whether it was Coach (Courtney) Meyer, Coach (Vance) Winter and now Coach Daberkow – it’s their defense. That defense is solid. Their defensive line gets off the ball. They’re big, they’re physical. Their linebackers as a core could be one of the top two in the conference. The corners they’ve got can run man-to-man. They do a really good job. Then you look over at their offense. Their o-line – this was just from watching their film – I believe is one of the top two in this conference. They’re athletic. They’re not as big as they have been, but they’re athletic, they’re physical, they’re fast, they get off the ball … And you have to talk about those long receivers who killed us last year just going up and beating us on 50/50 balls. You can’t forget about the running back who had one heck of a game against Doane. That guy is physical and he runs downhill. Once you think you’ve got him wrapped up he’s going to break the tackle. Then he gets tired and they bring in another guy that’s just as fast and physical as him. In my opinion, this is the best Concordia team I’ve seen in a long time.
Brian Mistro, Jamestown
They’re going to hit you in the mouth. You’re going to get punched in the mouth when you play Concordia. It’s a physical team. The running back is running for a lot of yards and playing his tail off. The quarterback makes good decisions … They’re not turning the ball over. Coach Daberkow’s got those guys playing really well … (from Jamestown Sun) They have some skill guys that are pretty good, their running back’s been running over everybody, their defense is stout and really disciplined … (Jonah Weyand) runs like he’s mad at somebody.”
Dennis Wagner, Briar Cliff
They obviously can run the ball and that sets up their passing game. They like to get on the edges when they throw. They’re not a real big drop back team. They get out on the edge or they go play action if they’re going to stay in the pocket. A lot of it’s based off the running game.
Defense continues dominant ways
The defense is dominating despite the absence of All-American linebacker Lane Napier the past two outings (Briar Cliff and Jamestown games). Coach Corby Osten’s unit has displayed considerable depth in the defensive line and linebacker groups. In the win over Jamestown, the Bulldogs held the Jimmies to 265 total yards and 15 first downs. Concordia created a turnover on the opening possession of the game (led to a field goal), posted seven sacks and forced Jamestown to punt eight times. Five different Bulldogs got into the backfield for at least one sack: Chase Hammons (two), Gerald Morris (two), Payton Kidder (one), Eric Kieper Jr. (one) and Keon Waters (one). Osten’s defense has limited three of its first four opponents to single-digit point totals.
Culbert’s big day
Blake Culbert carved up Jamestown’s secondary for 361 passing yards and three touchdowns. The passing total ranks as the second highest in a single game in Concordia Football history (Andrew Perea’s 455 yards passing versus Northwestern in 2018 represents the school record). Culbert fired touchdown passes of 17 yards to Cayden Beran, nine yards to Cole Schaedel and 41 yards to Korrell Koehlmoos. At the conclusion of this season’s week four, Culbert ranked second in the NAIA in passing yards with 920. The program’s single-season passing yardage record of 2,150 by Jarrod Pimentel has stood since 2001.
Culbert has been helped by improved offensive line play and by a deep and talented receiver group. In the win over Jamestown, Culbert connected with four different receivers five or more times: Korrell Koehlmoos (six catches for 113 yards), Cole Schaedel (five catches for 84 yards), Garrett Schardt (five catches for 78 yards) and Cayden Beran (five catches for 55 yards). On the season, Beran (19 catches for 199 yards) tops the team in receptions while Koehlmoos (16 catches for 345 yards and two touchdowns) paces the squad in receiving yards. Koehlmoos has gone past 100 receiving yards in three-straight games and ranks No. 8 nationally in that category. Meanwhile, Beran ranks 13th nationally for total number of catches.
Whitney steps in
Sophomore running back Lyle Whitney has led the team in rushing in back-to-back weeks, going for 73 yards on 16 carries at Briar Cliff and then 86 yards on 24 attempts versus Jamestown. Whitney has gotten the lion’s share of the carries in place of Jonah Weyand, who has been banged up. Whitney did not have a single college carry until this season (made his first career start last week). Concordia hopes to get Weyand back soon. Despite sitting out the Jamestown game, Weyand still ranks fifth nationally in rushing yards with 384. The Crete native has rushed for seven touchdowns in 2020.
Sacks piling up
The seven sacks posted two weeks ago vaulted the Bulldogs to No. 1 in the nation with 17 sacks on the season. The production has been especially impressive considering Concordia graduated its top pass rusher from 2019 in Aaron Rudloff (nine sacks). The Bulldogs notched a solid 30 sacks last season. Nine Concordia players have at least one sack this season with Chase Hammons (five), Karson Dickson (two), Logan Kreizel (two) and Gerald Morris (two) leading the way.
On the mend
Concordia came out of the Jamestown game with a 20-point margin of victory though it was missing arguably its best player on both sides of the ball – running back Jonah Weyand and linebacker Lane Napier. Both players are hoping to return this Saturday. If Napier can return to the lineup again soon, he may still have time to reach 400 tackles for his career. The three-time first team All-GPAC performer owns career totals of 364 tackles, 33 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, seven pass breakups and an interception. The Bulldogs were also missing linebacker Logan Kreizel (two sacks at Briar Cliff) versus Jamestown.
Less than half of all NAIA football programs have played a game in 2020. Among those that have played at least once, Concordia is one of 11 undefeated teams. Dickinson State University (N.D.) headlines the list with a 5-0 record. The Bulldogs are joined by Bethel College (Kan.) and Keiser University (Fla.) with 4-0 marks. Grand View University (Iowa), Kansas Wesleyan University and Morningside are each 3-0. Concordia and Morningside are the lone two GPAC squads that have yet to suffer a loss in 2020. Undefeated seasons in Bulldog Football history have been hard to come by. There have been three of those seasons with them having occurred in 1945 (6-0), 1944 (8-0) and 1931 (7-0).
CUNE alum takes reins of Red Raider athletic department
A familiar face was announced as the Vice President of Athletics at Northwestern College back in May. That would be Dr. Micah Parker, previously the Director of Athletics at NCAA Division I California Baptist University. Parker is a Concordia-Nebraska graduate and a native of Grand Island. He served as head coach of the Bulldog Women’s Basketball program from 1998-2002 and also spent time as an assistant men’s basketball coach under Grant Schmidt. Parker is a friend of Concordia AD Devin Smith.
Series vs. Northwestern
Northwestern has had the upper hand, winning 28 of the first 42 meetings with Concordia in a series that began in 1960 (the first year of football at Northwestern). The Bulldogs most recent win over Northwestern occurred inside Bulldog Stadium in 2016 when they held off the Red Raiders, 9-7, in a defensive battle. Concordia has not emerged from Orange City with a victory since 2002 when the Bulldogs topped Northwestern, 43-37. In last year’s matchup in Seward, the Bulldogs were competitive with the then sixth-ranked Red Raiders. Concordia managed to hold a potent Northwestern offense to 20 points and 412 total yards. Tyson Kooima and the Red Raiders came away with a 20-14 victory.
This will be the stiffest challenge yet for the Bulldogs. Northwestern possesses a potent offense led by senior quarterback Tyson Kooima. Since the start of the 2017 season, the only GPAC opponent that has defeated the Red Raiders is Morningside (four times). A former NAIA All-American player at Northwestern, Matt McCarty is in his fifth season heading a program that has been a consistent winner. Before becoming head coach, McCarty served as the Northwestern defensive coordinator from 2005-15. The Red Raiders have been known to have great defensive squads over the years, but their defense is now overshadowed by a passing game that ranks No. 1 nationally. Kooima has two main receiving targets in Cade Moser and All-American Shane Solberg. Northwestern is allowing 473.0 yards per game, but that likely has something to do with an early season schedule that has included games against Morningside and Dordt. While Morningside is the favorite in the GPAC, Northwestern again has aspirations of reaching the NAIA playoffs.