Game 9 Preview: #21 Concordia at #18 St. Thomas

Game 9 Preview: #21 Concordia at #18 St. Thomas

Last Week:
Concordia won its third straight game by rolling to a 28-7 halftime lead at Carleton, holding steady at 35-14 after three quarters and then coming with a late-game defensive stand in the red zone to preserve a 35-27 victory.

Concordia was able to cruise to a 14-7 lead after one quarter and then a 28-7 halftime lead thanks to a devastating ground game and an economical air attack. All four of the Cobbers' scores in the first two quarters came on the ground. CC had 304 of their 435 total offensive yards in the first half of play. Concordia had 142 rushing yards on 28 carries in the first and second quarters and quarterback Griffin Neal was 11-for-16 for 162 passing yards. The Cobbers scored on four of their first five drives of the game.

The second half was a different story as the Cobbers tried to run out the clock. Concordia scored on just one of their seven drives in the third and fourth quarters. CC had six first downs and 104 yards in the third quarter but did not have a first down in the fourth quarter and gained just 27 total yards.   

The new-found balanced offense for Concordia came away with 228 passing yards and 207 rushing yards. Carleton finished the game with 362 total offensive yards. The CC defense held the Knights to just 43 rushing yards but gave up a season-high 319 passing yards.

Concordia used their ground game to carve out a decisive 37:56-22:04 edge in time of possession. The 37:56 is a season high for the Cobbers.  

Neal completed 66.7% (16-for-24) of his passes in the game finished with 228 passing yards and threw for one score. He also ran for 18 yards and one TD.

Concordia vs. Carleton Game Recap

St. Thomas survived a five-turnover affair at Augsburg and prevailed 17-14. The Tommies got a 23-yard field goal with 1:21 left in the fourth quarter from kicker Paul Graupner to break the tie and earn the three-point win.

St. Thomas had to rally from a 14-7 deficit at the start of the fourth quarter to record their sixth win of the season. Neither team was able to points on the scoreboard in the first half. The Tommies had a lone TD in the first quarter on a Jake Kaiser 25-yard run while the Auggies countered with aJoey Sonnenfeld 50-yard pass from Ayrton Scott. Unfortunately for Augsburg the extra point try failed. The Auggies took a seven-point lead in the third period when Adam Carl caught a 44-yard strike from Scott with 2:58 left in the quarter. The two-point extra point was successful which set the stage for UST's fourth-quarter comeback. Nick Waldvogel had a 5-yard TD run in the first five minutes of play to tie the game. The teams then traded a pair of unsuccessful drives before St. Thomas got the ball on the Auggie 13-yard line. The Tommies had the ball first-and-goal from the 2-yard line but were forced to kick the game-winning field goal.

The St. Thomas offense was held to a season-low 231 yards of total offense. UST only came away with 95 passing yards. While the Tommie offense committed five turnovers, the St. Thomas defense was able to force three miscues.

Kaiser finished with 88 yards on 20 rushes for the Tommie offense. Waldvogel had 92 all-purpose yards and scored the fifth TD of his freshman season. On defense, Josh Carey, Matt Larson and Jeff Rada had interceptions for UST, and Harry Pitera had two tackles for loss and a QB hurry. Freshman LB Anthony King-Foreman had his first career sack.

St. Thomas vs. Augsburg Game Recap

Stat Central:
- 2013 Concordia Statistics

- 2013 St. Thomas Statistics

- 2013 MIAC Statistics

- 2013 Concordia NCAA Team/Individual Rankings

- 2013 St. Thomas NCAA Team/Individual Rankings

Pick 6 - 6 Items To Help You Take It To The House:
This is the game the teams and fans have been pointing towards for several weeks. Both teams realize their playoff hopes revolve around Saturday's game. The Cobbers can clear one of their final two hurdles with a win while the Tommies can continue their grind towards the postseason. A win for CC will also keep them in contention for a regular-season title. The game is basically a "playoff contender or pretender" scenario. Both teams have been playing playoff-style football for weeks knowing that another loss could send them home after Nov. 16.  

2. Saturday's Marquee Match-Up will feature the old cliché of "the irresistible force meeting the immovable object". Both team's strengths play against each other. Concordia's offense has been their best weapon all year long as they are averaging 35.5 points per game and have scored a total of 145 points in the last three games combined. The Cobbers are currently second in the MIAC in points per game. The strength of the Tommies is their defense. UST is holding opponents to a mere 12.6 points per game and leads the MIAC in that category. St. Thomas has only allowed one opponent to score more than 20 points in a game this year.

If you switch to the other side of the ball you will find a similar strength vs. strength match-up. St. Thomas' main offensive threat lately is the run. The Tommies are averaging 206.8 rushing yards per game and are second in the league. Concordia's defensive prowess comes from plugging holes and stopping the run. The Cobbers only allow foes to run for 114.8 yards per game which is also second in the conference.  

3. The GameDay staff hates to use another cliché for the preview but all signs point to turnovers and big plays determining the outcome on Saturday. The Cobbers are 5-0 this season when they are tied or win the turnover battle. The Tommies have committed 14 turnovers this year and are 1-1 when they lose the turnover battle. UST committed more turnovers in their loss against St. John's but had fewer miscues against Bethel. However, the Royals had more big offensive plays (20-plus yards) and wound up winning by 28-21.     

4. Concordia's offense, and quarterback Griffin Neal, has been very economical this season. CC and Neal haven't put up huge eye-opening numbers but have made their numbers count. The Cobbers have gained 1,658 yards on the ground and 1,676 yards through the air giving them one of the most balanced offensive attacks in the country. Concordia leads the MIAC in rushing yards per game but is a mere sixth in the pass-happy conference. Neal is only fourth in the MIAC in passing yards and sixth in completions but he is fifth in all of NCAA Division III in completion percentage and sixth in the nation in pass efficiency. His completion rate of 71.0 has led to a 171.63 pass efficiency rating. 

5. Another area to watch for on Saturday will be field position on the start of drives. St. Thomas' special teams are near the top of several statistical categories. The Tommies lead the league in punting (38.5 yds/punt) and are second in kick return average (23.4 yds/return) and third in punt return average (8.5 yds/return). Concordia has experienced success of its own on special teams. CC is currently second in punting average (38.0). The Cobbers are second in the MIAC in punt return average (9.3) but only fifth in kick return average (19.5).  

6. We might as well finish off the "Pick 6" with our weekly Wagner Watch. This week Cobber senior kicker Ben Wagner has some competition as Tommie kicker Paul Graupner has been a very good year of his own. Graupner is 5-for-7 on field goal attempts this season and has missed only one extra point. He is fifth in the MIAC in scoring among kickers with 38 points. Wagner continues to light up the scoreboard in 2013. For the second straight week he was a perfect 5-for-5 in extra points. He has now connected on 78 straight extra point attempts which are six shy of the MIAC record. He also leads the MIAC in scoring by kickers with 52 points.          

Last Year:
Defense was the order of the day last season as Concordia and St. Thomas combined for only 28 points in the Tommies' 21-7 win in Moorhead. The 21 points scored by UST would be the second lowest total of the season. St. Thomas scored a single TD in the first three quarters to claim their fifth straight win over the Cobbers.

Concordia's lone TD came in the fourth quarter after starting quarterback Griffin Neal left the game with an injury and Mitch Tauer was able to lead the Cobbers on a 13-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in a Brett Baune 2-yard run.

The turning point of the game came towards the end of the third quarter. Concordia was trailing 14-0 but was driving and deep in Tommie territory. The Cobbers faced a fourth-and-10 situation from the UST 20-yard line and instead of kicking a field goal, they decided to go for the first down. Neal was then sacked on the following play and St. Thomas was able to take over at the Concordia 38-yard-line. The Tommies then went 62 yards in five plays to put the game out of reach.

Both teams had multiple turnovers. The Cobbers fumbled the ball twice while the Tommies had one fumble and one interception.

St. Thomas finished with 397 total offensive yards while the Cobbers came away with 272. 

Concordia vs. St. Thomas 2012 Game Recap

Cobbers vs. Tommies Series History: Cobbers lead 37-33-0 (series started in 1931)

Series Synopsis:
St. Thomas has won the last five meetings in the series. The last time the Cobbers beat the Tommies was in 2007 when CC posted a 51-21 win in St. Paul...Concordia is 4-6 against St. Thomas in the last 10 games played at O'Shaughnessy Stadium. CC won three straight in St. Paul in 2003, 2004 and 2007. The Cobbers have lost two straight on the road at UST (2009, 2010)...the teams played one game in the Metrodome during the series. That came back in 2002 when Concordia claimed a 63-21 victory. The 63 points scored in that game is the most by any team in a single game in the series...the Cobbers carried the series in the late 50's to early 70's when they won 14 of 16 games from 1957 through 1972. That stretch included 10 straight which is the longest winning streak by either team in the series...Cobber head coach Terry Horan is 5-7 vs. St. Thomas.

Last 10 Meetings
Year Score
2003 Concordia 34 at St. Thomas 20
2004 Concordia 20 at St. Thomas 3
2005 St. Thomas 20 at Concordia 31
2006 St. Thomas 21 at Concordia 15
2007 Concordia 51 at St. Thomas 28
2008 St. Thomas 14 at Concordia 13
2009 Concordia 17 at St. Thomas 31
2010 Concordia 7 at St. Thomas 56
2011 St. Thomas 48 at Concordia 30
2012 St. Thomas 21 at Concordia 7