SEWARD, Neb. – Only in 2020 could a team playing its fourth game of the season go head-to-head with an opponent just beginning its campaign. By the close of the afternoon on Saturday (Oct. 3), the Concordia University Football team celebrated a happy homecoming and a 4-0 start. The Bulldogs used a strong performance from quarterback Blake Culbert and their defense on the way to a 23-3 win over Jamestown.
Fourth-year Head Coach Patrick Daberkow’s program has already eclipsed its season win totals from the 2018 and 2019 campaigns (3-7 both years). In the GPAC era, the 2001 and 2013 squads are the only other Concordia editions to open up 4-0 in conference play.
“It’s always fun to be in a victorious locker room,” Daberkow said. “Nobody’s ever going to complain about that, but I thought we left a lot out there today and I think we can play a lot better than we did. We have some things to fix and our guys know that we haven’t gotten close to our ceiling yet. We need to figure out how to capitalize on some opportunities that might present themselves.”
Jonah Weyand stole the show in weeks one and two. From an offensive perspective, this was the coming out party for Culbert and the Bulldog receivers. Culbert connected with three different pass catchers for touchdowns that covered 17 yards to Cayden Beran, nine yards to Cole Schaedel and 41 yards to Korrell Koehlmoos. Culbert totaled 361 passing yards while completing 24-of-41 attempts for the first 300-yard day of his career.
The Concordia defense was its usual stingy self. Chase Hammons (five sacks this season) and Gerald Morris collected two sacks apiece for yet another tenacious performance coordinated by Corby Osten. Even when the defense bent, it never broke. The Bulldogs forced a turnover (fumble recovered by Peyton Mitchell) on the game’s opening possession and limited the Jimmies to 265 total yards.
Despite the absence of Weyand, the Bulldogs did not abandon the run. Freshman Lyle Whitney has been the team’s leading rusher in back-to-back weeks. He got his first career start on Saturday and carried the ball 24 times for 86 bruising yards. Whitney was responsible for almost all of the team’s 101 rushing yards.
Four weeks into 2020, it’s clear: the offense is vastly improved. Culbert, Weyand and the coaching staff have been quick to point to the offensive line. When requested for a postgame interview, Culbert brought the entire starting line along with him. Center Johnny Robinson III even told the story of how he got the nickname “Potroast.”
Said Culbert in deflecting credit to his sure-handed group of pass catchers, “When you have a receiver core that’s that good with everyone out there, you have to (spread the ball around). You can’t just go to one guy the whole time.”
Culbert found four different receivers frequently: Koehlmoos (six catches for 113 yards), Schaedel (five catches for 84 yards), Garrett Schardt (five catches for 78 yards) and Beran (five catches for 55 yards). The touchdowns snags by Beran and Schaedel were particularly highlight-worthy considering the impressiveness of the pitch and catch. Koehlmoos has now gone over 100 receiving yards in three-straight games.
If the offense happens to struggle as it did during parts of the first half, Concordia can always hang its hat on its defense. Jamestown showed some offensive wrinkles the Bulldogs did not expect, but you couldn’t necessarily tell by the results. When he wasn’t getting sacked, Jimmie quarterback Cade Torgerson threw for 220 yards. Garret Mitchell caught six passes for 73 yards. Jamestown finished with only 45 rushing yards.
Concordia has held three of its first four opponents to single-digit point totals. Hammons has played a big role in that success. Said Hammons, “We have a lot of guys stepping up at positions where guys have gone down. It’s that next man up mentality. We’ve had guys step up and fill those roles and it’s been great to see … I got lucky and happened to be there (for two sacks). It was great to see us just pursue the ball.”
One sack each was also contributed by Eric Kieper Jr., Payton Kidder and Keon Waters. In the secondary, Isiaha Conner had an active day that included three pass breakups. Jourdhin Smith and AJ Jenkins also broke up two passes apiece.
Despite the delay to its season, the Jimmies hung tough for a half (10-3 deficit). With the way Concordia’s defense played, the two third-quarter touchdown passes by Culbert made it feel like a comfortable margin.
The Bulldogs will be back on the road next Saturday (Oct. 10) to play at Dakota Wesleyan (1-3 GPAC). Kickoff from Mitchell, S.D., is set for 1 p.m. CT. DWU picked up its first win of the season on Saturday, 29-26, over Doane.
Said Daberkow of DWU, “They’re a good team. They beat Doane. They’re going to be prepared. Coach (Ross) Cimpl is a good coach and it’ll be a dogfight just like it is every week in this conference. Everything about being 4-0 is old news after tonight.”
Concordia Football vs Jamestown https://t.co/zgiuQeqMg6
— 104.9 Max Country (@1049maxcountry) October 4, 2020