November 9, 2013

The Rabbit Gets Run Down By The Tomcat

ST. PAUL, Minn. (11/09/13)—A fast start has usually meant success for Concordia in 2013, unfortunately a 13-0 lead wound up being the high point of the afternoon against No.18-ranked St. Thomas as the Cobbers allowed 34 of the next 41 points and lost 34-20.

Concordia falls for the first time in four games and drops to 7-2 overall and 5-2 in the MIAC.

The biggest swing in the game between NCAA playoff hopefuls and nationally ranked teams centered around the halftime break. Concordia scored with 2:41 left in the second quarter to cut the lead to 21-20 but then the Tommies marched 72 yards in eight plays to take a 27-20 lead into the break.

St. Thomas (7-2/5-2 MIAC), who won the opening coin toss and deferred to receive the second half kickoff, opened the third quarter by going on a 12-play, 71-yard drive on the opening possession and scored on a 6-yard run to push the lead to 34-20.

Concordia's offense generated 220 total offensive yards in the first half but was then limited to only 73 in the final two quarters. The Cobbers had only 14 rushing yards in the second half on a mere nine carries as they were forced to chase the game for the final 30 minutes of play.

The Tommies were able to grind out chunks of yards on the ground and come up with big plays through the air. St. Thomas had two players go over 100 rushing yards for the game and sophomore quarterback Alex Fenske went 14-for-26 for 225 yards and had four passes for over 20 yards.

The Cobbers' main offensive weapon was quarterback Griffin Neal. Neal was 15-for-31 for 188 yards and one touchdown through the air and was the team's leading rusher.  He ran the ball 18 times for 66 yards and had a pair of rushing TD's.   

Concordia scored the first 13 points of the game by taking the opening kickoff and driving 84 yards in 4:02. Neal connected with Brandon Zylstra for a 20-yard TD strike. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the game came on the extra point when CC senior kicker Ben Wagner had his PAT blocked to end his streak of 78 consecutive made extra points come to an end.

The Cobbers then forced UST to go 3-and-out and then Dan Berdan partially blocked the punt to give CC the ball at the Tommie 42-yard line. Neal was picked off two plays later and then the Cobber defense returned the favor by coming up with a forced fumble off of a Levi Hintermeister sack.

Concordia took over at the St. Thomas 30-yard line and Neal cashed in on the very next play when he took off and ran the ball right up the middle for the second score of the game to push the lead to 13-0. Unfortunately the Tommies would score on six of its next eight possessions which culminated in the score at the start of the third quarter.  

Concordia finished the game with 293 total offensive yards as compared to 458 for the Tommies. The two biggest statistical differences came in time of possession and red zone chances. St. Thomas had the ball for 33:09 which is the second most by a Cobber opponent this season. The only other time that CC allowed a team to hold the ball for over 33 minutes was in the other loss against Bethel. The Tommies were able to get the ball in the red zone on five occasions and scored on four of those opportunities. Concordia only got the ball inside the UST 20-yard line two times and converted on each attempt.

Nate Adams continued his stellar junior season. He tied for a game-high with eight tackles. He also had a pair of pass break ups. Bryce Hentges also finished with eight tackles on the day while Kenyon O'Brien had seven tackles and came up with his MIAC-leading fifth interception of the season.  

The Cobbers will now finish off the regular season when they host Gustavus on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 1 p.m.