Big Plays Turn Tide In Homecoming Win

Sophomore Sam Michel is all smiles after recovering a fumble on a kickoff in the Cobbers' 27-17 win over Gustavus.
Sophomore Sam Michel is all smiles after recovering a fumble on a kickoff in the Cobbers' 27-17 win over Gustavus.

MOORHEAD, Minn. (9/30/17)---A pair of big turnover plays in the second half helped No.16-ranked Concordia beat conference unbeaten Gustavus 27-17 in the annual Homecoming game for the Cobbers.

Jake Erholtz picked off a pass and ran 32 yards for a touchdown to turn a 14-10 deficit into a 17-10 lead in the third quarter and then sophomore Sam Michel recovered a fumble on a kickoff after Concordia had taken a 20-17 lead which set up the game-sealing touchdown at the start of the fourth quarter.

The Cobbers outscored the Gusties 17-3 in the second half to remain unbeaten and push their record to 4-0 overall. CC is now 2-0 in conference play. Gustavus loses for the first time in league play and is now 2-1 in the MIAC and 3-2 overall.

The other key in the game was the Cobber Black Shirt defense which held the league's top passing attack to only 183 yards. It marked the first time all season that Gustavus has been held under 290 passing yards this season.

Concordia outgained the Gusties 305-226 which included a 274-43 margin in rushing offense.

The final key to the game came from the starting quarterback position. Cobber starting QB Michael Herzog had to leave the game in the middle of the third quarter while the Gustavus starting signal caller left the game towards the end of the third quarter. Neither starter returned for the remainder of the contest, and the game was played out by the back-up QBs.

Cobber back-up Blake Kragnes finished his time with 53 rushing yards on eight carries and was 0-for-2 through the air.         

The game started on the exact opposite foot for Concordia. The Cobbers fumbled the opening kickoff but then forced a 3-and-out on their own 40-yard line. On the ensuing punt, Concordia was flagged for a roughing the punter penalty and that allowed the Gusties to drive down and take a 7-0 lead at 12:21 of the opening quarter.

The teams then traded punts before Concordia drove 80 yards in eight plays to tie the game on a 33-yard TD run from Chad Johnson.

Gustavus then regained the lead on the next drive when they pulled off the dreaded double-reverse flee-flicker which finished with a wide open receiver catching a 36-yard scoring pass.

The only other score in the first half came when Cobber kicker Tony Kostelecky connected on a 29-yard field goal in the final minute of play which brought the score to 14-10 in favor of the Gusties and provided the momentum for the big second-half surge.

TIE THAT RECORD: Cobber senior running back scored twice on Saturday – adding a 4-yard run in the fourth quarter to his 33-yard scamper in the opening period. Johnson now has 34 career touchdowns which ties the school record for touchdowns in a career. He is tied with Brett Baune who put up 34 from 2009-12. Johnson also tied, and passed, head coach Terry Horan who finished his storied career with 33 scores. Johnson has scored at least two touchdowns in all four games this year and leis second in the MIAC in scoring with 54 points.  

THE BUS DRIVER: Johnson also rushed for 114 yards on 21 carries and has put up at least 110 rushing yards in every game this year. He has 585 total rushing yards this year and his 146.3 yards per game average leads the conference by over 80 yards. Johnson is now 10th in Division III in rushing yards per game.

STRAIGHT A'S: The defensive tandem of Andrew Thompson and Alex Berg led Concordia in tackles. Both players finished with 11 total tackles. Berg also added a sack and a quarterback hurry. Thompson leads the Cobber Black Shirts in tackles in the season with 36 total tackles. He is currently third in the MIAC in tackles per game.   

GROUND COBBER: Concordia now leads the MIAC in rushing yards per game. They are averaging 255.3 rushing yards per game this season. Last year they led the league with a 264.2 mark. CC is currently 21st in Division III in rushing yards per game.

TEAM TAKEAWAY: For the fourth straight game Concordia won the takeaway battle. The Cobbers had an interception and fumble recovery vs. Gustavus as opposed to a single takeaway for GAC. CC has now forced at least two turnovers in every game and their 12 total takeaways is second in the MIAC.

TONY, TONY, TONY: Cobber junior kicker Tony Kostelecky played another important part in the Cobbers' Homecoming win. He went 2-for-2 in field goal attempts and 3-for-3 in extra point tries. Kostelecky has not missed an extra point or field goal attempt since the second week of the season and during that stretch he is 9-for-9 in PATs and 4-for-4 in field goal tries.

WHAT'S NEXT: Concordia will now travel to St. Paul to take on No.6-ranked St. Thomas in another battle of conference unbeatens. The Tommies are 3-0 in the MIAC and 4-1 overall. They are coming off a 57-25 win at Augsburg.