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Wiltfong fires three TD passes in GPAC opening loss

Wiltfong fires three TD passes in GPAC opening loss
Courtesy/Concordia Athletics.

ORANGE CITY, Iowa – Despite a career game by sophomore Jackson Hall, the Concordia University football team dropped its GPAC opener at 24th-ranked Northwestern on Saturday afternoon. Red Raider freshman quarterback Tyson Kooima accounted for all five of his team’s touchdowns while leading the home squad to a 35-21 win inside De Valois Stadium in Orange City, Iowa.

First-year head coach Patrick Daberkow’s squad has dipped to 1-2 overall a week after defeating Ottawa University.

“They’re a very well coached and disciplined team. We just got beat by a team that was more disciplined today than we were,” Daberkow said in a postgame interview with 104.9 Max Country. “That’s a reflection of the head coach. That starts with me and we have to get more disciplined. We didn’t capitalize on some things we could have capitalized on. There were some opportunities that we left out there.”

Kooima burned Concordia’s defense with big plays. He rushed for touchdowns that covered two, 24 and 39 yards. He also tossed for scores of 61 yards to Shane Solberg and for 56 yards to JC Koerselman. In addition to his three rushing touchdowns and two passing touchdowns, Kooima racked up 385 total yards (316 passing, 69 rushing) of offense. Said Daberkow, “I’m not looking forward to the next three years of him. He’s a very special player.”

Junior quarterback Riley Wiltfong came off the bench and hurled a trio of touchdown tosses. His 47-yard scoring strike to Jackson Hall gave the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead less than four minutes into the game. However, Concordia waited until the 10:01 mark of the fourth quarter to put another score on the board. By that time, Kooima and the Red Raiders had built a 35-7 lead. Wiltfong made the final score more respectable by whipping scoring passes of 21 yards to Lane Castaneda and 24 yards to Kiyoshi Brey in the final quarter.

Hall got loose for big plays against a solid Northwestern defense. Not only did he catch his first career touchdown pass, he finished with a line of five catches for 108 yards. Castaneda snagged eight passes for 68 yards. Out of the backfield, Ryan Durdon caught four balls for 40 yards. The Red Raiders did a credible job of limiting Durdon in the run game. He rushed 14 times for 46 yards. Wiltfong was the team leader with 72 rushing yards and 247 passing yards. Andrew Perea started at quarterback and went 7-for-15 with 55 yards.

Northwestern (3-0, 1-0 GPAC) jumped into the national rankings this week thanks to a hot start under second-year head coach Matt McCarty. With Bulldogs like sophomore linebacker Zac Walter (3.5 tackles for loss) swarming, the Red Raiders were limited to 2.9 yards per carry on 35 attempts. However, the big plays from Kooima were enough to carry Northwestern, which held a slight 419-413 advantage in total yards.

Corner Sebastian Garces led Concordia with nine tackles, including one in the backfield. Linebacker Lane Napier added seven tackles (one for loss). Walter was credited with 1.5 sacks while Erik Small recorded a half a sack. As a unit, the Bulldog defense made 10 stops behind the line of scrimmage on the afternoon. A week after the defense forced three turnovers, it did not get a single takeaway at Northwestern.

Seven days after appearing on SportsCenter with a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown, Tarence Roby was held to 57 all-purpose yards. All of them came on kick returns. Punter Chris Jelken was able to avoid Roby on his six punts. Deion Staley also had one kick return for 29 yards.

Kooima’s favorite target with Koerselman, who reeled in six passes for 82 yards. Concordia stuffed running back Jacob Kalognis, who finished with 30 rushing yards on 20 carries. Sean Powell topped the defense with nine tackles. Logan Richard produced the game’s lone turnover on an interception of Wiltfong.

The Bulldogs will be back in Seward next Saturday (Sept. 23) for homecoming on the Concordia campus. Daberkow’s squad will go head-to-head with No. 7 Doane (3-0, 1-0 GPAC) at 1 p.m. CT. In last season’s matchup in Crete, the Tigers kept their series win streak intact with a 27-7 victory over the Bulldogs. Daberkow played for Concordia teams that defeated Doane three years in a row (2003-05).

Said Daberkow, “I feel like we can compete with anybody. We have to seize the opportunity a bit more.”

Listen to the game here.

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