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SIOUX CITY, Iowa – For the second week in a row, a trick play helped the Concordia University football team put six on the board. The Bulldogs just couldn’t quite scratch out enough offense in what amounted to a 23-14 loss at Briar Cliff on its home turf of Bishop Heelan Memorial Field on Saturday afternoon (Oct. 13). The Chargers ended what hopes the Concordia University football team had of a late comeback by sacking Andrew Perea in the end zone in the final minute.
Second-year head coach Patrick Daberkow’s squad is getting used to these nailbiting grinders. The Bulldogs are now 3-3 overall and 2-3 in conference play. Four of their first six games have been decided by single-digit margins.
“Everything you do on Saturdays is a product of your week of preparation,” Daberkow told 104.9 Max Country after the game. “We have guys making mistakes that hadn’t been made during the week of preparation. There’s frustration there. There’s frustration with the holding calls and the amount of time we’re giving our quarterback. We have to get our eyes down field and throw the ball. It’s a group effort. We have to get better.”
This was a methodical affair that featured 24 combined penalties. Victimized by 125 penalty yards, Concordia could not overcome the flags or a disadvantage in the field position battle. The biggest highlight for the visitors was an 83-yard touchdown run by Ryan Durdon in the second quarter. The Bulldogs later owned a 14-6 lead near the end of the third quarter.
Concordia’s second and final touchdown drive covered 46 yards on nine plays. The final one caught Briar Cliff (5-2, 3-2 GPAC) off guard. On a reverse, receiver Arthur Anderson delivered a 10-yard touchdown pass along the right sideline to Perea, who made his second start in a row at quarterback. A week earlier, Perea had fired an 82-yard touchdown bomb to tight end Garrett Schardt on a reverse flea flicker.
Like it has most of the time this season, the Bulldog defense gave the team a chance. Concordia forced four fumbles and recovered three of them while continuing to win the turnover category (+2 on Saturday). One of those miscues was a Jacob Diaz fumble on a third-and-goal from the one in the fourth quarter. The recovery by Aaron Rudloff kept the Bulldogs within a touchdown (21-14) at the time.
Already one of the most prolific rushers in school history (now ranked eighth in program history), Durdon is always a threat to go the distance. He rushed for 87 yards on 14 carries. It was another day in which Concordia could not sustain success consistently on the ground (85 team rushing yards). Eight Charger sacks also devastated a number of Bulldog drives. Perea went 15-for-32 for 112 yards (one interception). Briar Cliff outgained Concordia, 430-207.
“He’s a workhorse,” Daberkow said of Durdon. “The best part about Ryan is he doesn’t even care (about stats). He would trade all that for a win today in a heartbeat. We’re looking for more like Ryan, but we have a lot of guys who are doing the right things.”
The Bulldog defense was on the field for 77 plays and more than 33 minutes of game time. It was a busy afternoon for linebacker Lane Napier, who made 21 tackles and forced a fumble. Rudloff collected 10 tackles and recovered two fumbles.
The run defense was leakier than usual for Concordia, which allowed 313 rushing yards on 54 attempts. Kwame Johnson ran 23 times for 182 yards and a touchdown for the Chargers. Diaz went 12-for-23 for 117 yards and two touchdowns through the air. With its fifth win, Briar Cliff equaled a program record for most victories in a single season. It also snapped an 11-game series losing streak versus the Bulldogs.
Concordia will return home next Saturday (Oct. 20) for Military Appreciation Day at Bulldog Stadium. The opponent will be rival Hastings (3-4, 1-4 GPAC). Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. CT. Concordia will attempt to avenge last season’s 38-18 loss at Hastings.