SEWARD, Neb. – Midland’s run of frustration versus the Concordia University football program ended inside a sun-soaked Bulldog Stadium on Saturday afternoon (Sept. 22). Behind dual-threat quarterback Payton Nelson, the Warriors spoiled the Bulldogs homecoming in a contest that ended by a 35-7 decision. Concordia got outgained, 507-274, in total yardage.
Second-year head coach Patrick Daberkow’s squad overcame its offensive shortcomings in wins over Buena Vista University (Iowa) and Jamestown, but Midland made the Bulldogs pay this time. It marked the end of a six-game Concordia series win streak versus the Warriors.
“It comes down to simple things and we’re not doing the simple things,” Daberkow said. “We didn’t do them at a level today that you need to compete in this conference. We’re very much a work in progress. To get a little momentum today in the passing game is one of the positives. Ultimately, we want to take pride in running the ball on people and that wasn’t working. I was pleased to see Vince Beasley have the game he had today.”
The Bulldogs finally dented the scoreboard in the third quarter when Jake Kemp found Art Anderson for a one-yard touchdown pass play on fourth and goal. Concordia got within 21-7 on its lone scoring drive that covered 44 yards on eight plays. Any momentum the Bulldogs had mustered quickly vanished when Midland (3-1, 1-1 GPAC) answered on its next possession.
The combination of Nelson and receiver Mike Seawell burned Concordia all day. They hooked up on a 54-yard connection that set up Garry Cannon’s seven-yard touchdown rush. The score allowed the Warriors to regain a three-touchdown advantage (28-7) with 9:45 left in the third period. Seawell’s big grab converted a third and 10.
This was a complete reversal from the game between the same two programs in Seward last year. That day it was Ryan Durdon who stole the show by rushing for 266 yards and four touchdowns in a 44-14 Bulldog win. In this instance, it was Nelson and his ability to run and pass that gave Concordia fits. Nelson threw for 242 yards and ran for another 74. His escape-ability was a key factor in Midland being successful on 14-of-18 third down plays.
With the exception of one play, Midland’s defense bottled up Durdon all afternoon. Durdon got 84 of his 86 rushing yards on one carry that he busted loose on the final play of the first half. The Warriors were able to track down Durdon from behind at the 13-yard line to save a potential touchdown. In the passing game, the Bulldogs showed progress. Kemp threw for 163 yards (15-for-30) and completed a season long pass of 45 yards to Anderson. Beasley hauled in five passes for 63 yards.
Midland routed Concordia despite fumbling the football away on a goal-to-go situation late in the first quarter. Aaron Rudloff forced the fumble that allowed the Bulldogs to hang in there, down 7-0 at the time. The Bulldog defense broke more often than it had in its first two games. Midland scored on four of its six red zone trips.
The reigning GPAC Defensive Player of the Week, sophomore linebacker Lane Napier collected 10 tackles (two for loss) and made a sack. Zac Walter led the team with 11 tackles (two behind the line of scrimmage). They frequently had to chase around Seawell, who put up 136 yards receiving and 65 yards rushing. Running back Lukas Vopnford ran for 56 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries.
Offensively, Concordia has missed having veterans on the offensive line miss time due to injuries. Said Daberkow, “Instead of three seniors, we’re starting three freshmen. Those guys are doing the best they can. We’re rotating more guys in. It’s a group effort. It just wasn’t enough to beat a team like Midland.
“We have to weather the storm and come out better prepared for next week. We have to roll with who we have and we have a high standard for what we expect them to do.”
A second lengthy road trip of the campaign is coming up next Saturday (Sept. 29) when the Bulldogs will be at Dordt (2-1, 1-1 GPAC) for a 1 p.m. CT kickoff in Sioux Center, Iowa. This will be the third year in a row that Concordia will have played the Defenders on the road. In Saturday’s action, Dordt went on the road and blew out Hastings, 55-17.