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Concordia aiming for first 3-0 GPAC start since 2013

Concordia aiming for first 3-0 GPAC start since 2013

SEWARD, Neb. – It will be difficult to top the drama and excitement that poured out of last week’s 34-28 overtime victory over Hastings. The Concordia University Football team is riding high into week three of the 2020 season while looking to move to 3-0 inside of conference play for the first time since 2013. The Bulldogs now shift focus to Saturday’s trip to Memorial Field in Sioux City, Iowa, home to Briar Cliff. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. CT in what will be the first afternoon game this season for Concordia.

Head Coach Patrick Daberkow’s squad is 2-for-2 against in-state rivals having opened the campaign with wins over Doane and Hastings. The Bulldogs followed the lead of Jonah Weyand (five rushing touchdowns) and made fewer mistakes than the Broncos in the Bulldog Stadium thriller. Through two games, Concordia is averaging 202.0 rushing yards per game, a massive difference from its average of 65.8 rushing yards per contest in 2019. In addition, the Bulldogs have gone back-to-back weeks without committing a turnover.

Briar Cliff did not experience the same success last week in attempting to add octane to an offense that averaged 17.0 points per game last season. Head Coach Dennis Wagner’s squad was limited to 252 yards of offense in a 13-6 loss at Doane. The Chargers had their scheduled Sept. 12 game postponed, meaning last week’s matchup in Crete represented their season opener. Wagner injected life into a Briar Cliff program that went 0-11 in 2017. Under Wagner, the Chargers improved to 6-5 in 2018 before going 5-6 in 2019. Briar Cliff’s strength is on defense (ranked 11th nationally in total defense in 2019).

GAME INFO
Concordia (2-0) at Briar Cliff (0-1)
Saturday, Sept. 26 | 1 p.m.
Memorial Field | Sioux City, Iowa
Webcast: Charger Game Day
Stats: Dakstats
Radio: 104.9 Max Country
Commentators: Evan Jones and Ross Wurdeman

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN

Team Statistics

*2020 national rank in parentheses
NOTE: 41 of the 82 NAIA football programs that intend to play in 2020-21 have started their seasons.

Concordia
Offensive PPG: 29.0 (19th)
Defensive PPG: 17.5 (13th)
Total Offense: 384.5 (19th)
Pass Offense: 182.5 (24th)
Rush Offense: 202.0 (8th)
Total Defense: 283.0 (T-12th)
Pass Defense: 161.0 (16th)
Rush Defense: 122.0 (T-18th)
Turnover +/-: +3 (T-6th)

Briar Cliff
Offensive PPG: 6.0 (37th)
Defensive PPG: 13.0 (T-6th)
Total Offense: 252.0 (32nd)
Pass Offense: 147.0 (28th)
Rush Offense: 105.0 (27th)
Total Defense: 283.0 (T-12th)
Pass Defense: 158.0 (15th)
Rush Defense: 125.0 (T-25th)
Turnover +/-: -1 (T-25th)

2020 INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

Concordia
Head Coach: Patrick Daberkow (14-18, 4th season)
Passing: Blake Culbert – 33/66 (.500), 365 yards, 1 td, 0 int, 101.5 effic.
Rushing: Jonah Weyand – 56 rushes, 346 yards, 6.2 avg, 7 td
Receiving: Korrell Koehlmoos – 7 catches, 128 yards, 18.3 avg, 0 td
Defense: Lane Napier – 17 tackles, 2 tfl’s, sack, pbu

Briar Cliff
Head Coach: Dennis Wagner (11-22, 4th season)
Passing: John Bell – 14/28 (.500), 139 yards, 1 td, 1 int, 96.3 effic.
Rushing: Mar’Kaybion Wallace – 20 rushes, 70 yards, 3.5 avg, 0 td
Receiving: Jalen Bowman – 4 catches, 51 yards, 12.8 avg, 0 td
Defense: Robert Robinson – 6 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 tfl’s

SCHEDULE/RESULTS 

Concordia (2-0, 2-0 GPAC)
9/12 at Doane, W, 24-7
9/19 vs. Hastings, W, 34-28 (OT)
9/26 at Briar Cliff, 1 p.m.
10/3 vs. Jamestown, 1 p.m.
10/10 at Dakota Wesleyan, 1 p.m.
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.

Briar Cliff (0-1, 0-1 GPAC)
9/19 at Doane, L, 6-13
9/26 vs. Concordia, 1 p.m.
10/3 vs. Midland, 1 p.m.
10/10 at Morningside, 1:30 p.m.
10/24 at Hastings, 1 p.m.
10/31 at Dakota Wesleyan, 1 p.m.
11/7 vs. Jamestown, 1 p.m.
11/14 at Northwestern, 1 p.m.
11/21 vs. Dordt, 1 p.m.

Fan protocols
Briar Cliff’s fan protocols for Saturday’s game can be viewed HERE. Bulldog Stadium can be filled up to 75 percent capacity. Face coverings must be worn by fans in attendance. Fans of the Bulldogs are advised to check COVID-19 related protocols for each road venue prior to traveling for away contests.

In the rankings
The GPAC Preseason Football Coaches’ Poll was unveiled on Aug. 26. Concordia landed at No. 7 (37 points) while Briar Cliff slotted in two spots above at fifth (44 points). The poll resembled the final 2019 standings. The NAIA did not release an NAIA preseason national poll though Concordia and Briar Cliff were unlikely to garner attention nationally. In the current Massey Ratings, the Bulldogs appear at 27th while the Chargers check in at 53rd. Concordia last appeared in the national rankings in the preseason of 2017 when it was rated 20th. Since the program began play in 2003, Briar Cliff has never cracked the NAIA top 25.

Concordia
GPAC preseason: 7th
Current Massey Ratings: 27th

Briar Cliff
GPAC preseason: 5th
Current Massey Ratings: 53rd

Weyand recognized as NAIA, GPAC Offensive Player of the Week
Redshirt sophomore Jonah Weyand and the running game are on fire. After rushing for five touchdowns and 177 yards on 35 carries versus Hastings, Weyand was recognized as both the GPAC and NAIA National Offensive Player of the Week. Weyand is the program’s first NAIA National Player of the Week since D’Mauria Martin earned such distinction on the defensive side of the ball on Oct. 16, 2017. Weyand’s five touchdown rushes tied a GPAC single-game record and broke Concordia’s school record. Ryan Durdon (2017) and JaMaine Lewis (2007) both ran for four touchdowns in one game. The school record for touchdowns in a single season is 19 by Bernard Arkebauer in 1931. Weyand beat out strong competition within the GPAC for the weekly honor. Morningside’s Reid Jurgensmeier caught five touchdown passes last week at Midland.

NAIA national leader
Jonah Weyand is the current NAIA national leader in both rushing yards (346) and rushing touchdowns (seven). Of course it’s true that many teams around the country have not yet played (several have played one game). After Weyand’s 346 rushing yards, the No. 2 rushing leader in the NAIA is Bethel (Kan.)’s Chantz Scurry with 185 yards. A breakout star, Weyand entered this season with 119 rushing yards on his career ledger. The Crete, Neb., native blew out his knee in the opening game of the 2018 season and red-shirted. Last season he served as the backup to Ryan Durdon. Weyand will bid to become the seventh running back in program history to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards in a single season.

Big play Korrell
Weyand has deservedly received plenty of attention with his gaudy statistics and penchant for finding the end zone. Meanwhile, Korrell Koehlmoos has been another big-play threat on the offensive side of the ball. In the Hastings win, Koehlmoos returned a kickoff for 70 yards and had separate pass receptions of 38, 35, 17 and 24 yards. The latter converted a fourth-and-12 play that led to a game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter. Koehlmoos finished with four catches for 104 yards, marking the third 100-yard receiving game of his career. The Pilger, Neb., native has 73 receptions for 994 yards and five touchdowns in 21 career collegiate games played.

Turnover margin gives Bulldogs edge
Ball security has been a key in the 2-0 start. Concordia has yet to lose fumble or throw an interception yet this season. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have forced three turnovers on defense and recovered a kickoff last week at Hastings (led to a go-ahead fourth quarter touchdown). AJ Jenkins and Jourdhin Smith have collected an interception apiece this season. A power run game combined with ball security will make Concordia a tough out. When the Bulldogs have to punt, they can lean upon one of the league’s best punters in Lane Castaneda, who averaged 42.7 yards per punt with a long of 50.

Offensive line continues to earn praise
Even the game story in the Lincoln Journal Star mentioned each of Concordia’s starting offensive linemen by name after Weyand rushed for five touchdowns versus Hastings. The Bulldog line features tackles Cole Baumgartner and Gavin Mull, guards Keegan Hornung and Christian Schlepp and center Johnny Robinson. The continued improvement up front has a lot to do with the uptick in offensive production. Concordia averaged less than 3.0 yards per carry in each of the previous two years. In addition, the Bulldogs have allowed only three sacks over two games

3-0 starts, GPAC era
Concordia is hoping to get to 3-0 for the first time since 2016 and for the fifth time in the GPAC era (2000-present). The previous four times that the Bulldogs have started out 3-0, they have won at least seven games each season. The ’01 squad rolled to an 8-0 mark before finally falling for the first time. That team shared the GPAC title and reached the quarterfinals of the NAIA playoffs.

Previous 3-0 starts in GPAC era
2000 (final record: 7-4)
2001 (final record: 10-2)
2013 (final record: 7-4)
2016 (final record: 7-3)

Napier pads tackle total
It seems it won’t be long before senior linebacker Lane Napier is challenging  the 400-tackle mark for his career. The All-American from David City, Neb., notched 10 more stops last week to run his career total to 364. His career numbers also show 33 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, seven pass breakups and an interception. Napier is working on earning first team All-GPAC honors for the fourth-straight season. He has notched at least 10 tackles in a game 18 times in his impressive career. No Bulldog in the GPAC era has reached 400 tackles for a career.

Dickson, Smith come up big on D
Transfer Karson Dickson is already putting a lot of heat on quarterbacks. He made a sack in the fourth quarter and again in overtime last week. His third down sack in overtime forced a long field goal try that resulted in a botched snap. He’s been credited with seven tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble while rotating in at defensive end early this season. Meanwhile, Jourdhin Smith has earned a starting role at corner. Smith emerged with an acrobatic interception of a Hastings pass on a third-and-goal situation. Smith has posted six tackles on the young season.

Series vs. Briar Cliff
The series between Concordia and Briar Cliff dates back to 2003 when the Chargers played their inaugural football season. The Bulldogs are 14-3 all-time versus Briar Cliff. Concordia won 11-straight in the series until the Chargers snapped the string in 2018 with a 23-14 victory. The Bulldogs got back on the winning side of the series a year ago in a 16-14 homecoming squeaker. Briar Cliff was plagued by seven turnovers (five lost fumbles, two interceptions) in the defeat. The Chargers were also held to just 191 total yards of offense. It was a big day for Korrell Koehlmoos, who caught eight passes for 137 yards and a touchdown.

Scouting Briar Cliff
Briar Cliff has played just one game due to having its scheduled season opener versus Jamestown postponed until Nov. 7. In last week’s defensive slugfest, the Chargers took a 6-0 lead into the fourth quarter before suffering a 13-6 loss. Briar Cliff appears to have another strong defensive unit led by defensive lineman Robert Robinson, a returning first team All-GPAC performer. Robinson posted a pair of sacks last week at Doane. Now Head Coach Dennis Wagner will attempt to get the offense going. The Chargers have a new quarterback in John Bell, who threw for 139 yards and a touchdown in the opener. They have also turned to a freshman at running back in Mar’Kaybion Wallace (20 rushes for 70 yards at Doane). Both offenses will have their work cut out for them on Saturday.

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