SEWARD, Neb. – An early bye led into an early homecoming for the Concordia University Football program, which honored its 2001 GPAC championship football team this weekend. The Bulldogs appeared up to the task on Saturday (Sept. 17) afternoon when they built a 17-2 advantage. However, four Concordia turnovers and a sputtering offense aided the comeback for Hastings, which emerged from Bulldog Stadium with a 21-17 win. The Bulldogs lost on their home turf despite allowing a modest 294 total yards to the Broncos.
After sweeping all three GPAC in-state rivals in 2021, Head Coach Patrick Daberkow’s squad sits at 0-2 with two down-to-the-wire defeats against Nebraska foes. Concordia could easily be 2-0 without some of the self-inflicted wounds.
Said Daberkow of the difference on homecoming, “Missed opportunities – we have to capitalize on the opportunities we’re given. We just didn’t do that today. We’ll go back to the drawing board, take the loss, keep our heads up and do the next right thing. The defense played well. I’m really impressed with how they fly around. We’re playing hard. The margin for error can’t be so thin for them. We have to do a better job of sustaining drives, and we’re bound and determined to do that.”
There were moments of brilliance for the Bulldog offense, which leaned heavily upon the playmaking abilities of fifth-year receiver Korrell Koehlmoos. On the game’s first touchdown drive, Koehlmoos reeled in a pass of 43 yards from Austin Jablonski. The seven-play touchdown series was capped with Koehlmoos’ eight-yard touchdown snag. Early in the third quarter, Koehlmoos beat the defender on a deep ball and caught a 56-yard touchdown strike from Jablonski.
Soon after, the momentum flipped. Quarterback John Zamora and the Hastings offense took advantage of short fields and cashed in on touchdown drives of 50, 55 and 17 yards, respectively. The go-ahead score came three plays after Concordia coughed the football up inside its own 20. Zamora threw a perfect 13-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Esch in the back left corner of the end zone.
Hastings then came away with a key defensive stop in the fourth quarter. A 31-yard pass play from DJ McGarvie to Carsen Arline was the highlight play of a sequence that concluded with Concordia turning it over on downs at the Bronco 28. In the game’s final seconds, the Bulldogs hurled up a Hail Mary that landed harmlessly out of bounds.
In each of the first two games, the Concordia defense has put together strong performances. Once again, linebacker Michael Grindey was the team’s leading tackler with 14 stops. Meanwhile, Devon Polley and Kyle Sterup registered a sack apiece, Jayzen Armstrong broke up three passes and Isiaha Conner came up with a pair of picks. Sterup added 11 tackles to his stat line while Jordan Kavulak was active with eight tackles up front.
Koehlmoos wound up with six catches for 143 yards and two touchdowns. With his efforts on Saturday, Koehlmoos became the fourth receiver in program history to eclipse 2,000 career receiving yards. His career totals jumped to 134 catches for 2,025 yards and 14 touchdowns. (Koehlmoos also punted seven times for an average of 39.9 yards). At quarterback, Jablonski started and McGarvie came out of the bullpen. They combined to go 26-for-45 for 273 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Running back Devin Zeigler rushed 17 times for 58 yards – with a big chunk of that coming early in the game on a 28-yard carry.
Said Daberkow of the quarterback change, “We were trying to create a spark and we felt like that was something that might do that. I thought DJ went through his read progressions well. There were some good things that happened. Ultimately, you’re judged in this game by whether you score points or not, and we didn’t do a good enough job of that.”
Zamora threw for 177 yards, rushed for 48 and posted three total touchdowns. There wasn’t much going for a Hastings run game that was limited to 103 yards on 43 attempts. Bronco defensive back Blake Vaughn forced both fumbles that were recovered by his teammates. Hastings (3-1, 2-1 GPAC) has already exceeded its win total from last season while showing immense improvement under Head Coach Matt Franzen.
The Bulldogs will be on the road next Saturday (Sept. 24) to take on fourth-ranked Northwestern (2-1, 2-1 GPAC). Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. CT from Orange City, Iowa. The Red Raiders routed Jamestown, 48-3, in North Dakota on Saturday. Concordia will be attempting to defeat Northwestern for the first time since a 9-7 home win over the Red Raiders in 2016.