NORTHFIELD, Minn. (9/26/15) --- Concordia head coach Terry Horan earned his 100th career victory in the annual "Lefse Bowl" at St. Olaf.
The Cobbers raced out to a 28-7 halftime lead and never looked back as they defeated St. Olaf 37-7 to retain possession of the Troll trophy for the fourth straight season.
The Cobbers started out with good field position thanks to the opening kickoff sailing out of bounds plus an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Oles. Sophomore quarterback Michael Herzog looked cool and collected in his first career start in place of the injured Alex Grove. Herzog guided Concordia down inside the St. Olaf 10-yard line after a 28-yard toss to Jon Baune. On the next play Chad Johnson pushed his way into the end zone for the Cobber touchdown to give CC a 7-0 lead with 12:04 to play in the first quarter.
After a missed field goal, Concordia got the ball back at their own 21-yard line and began another scoring drive. After Johnson took a pitch around the right side for 15 yards down the sideline, Herzog scampered for gains of 11 and 10 yards bringing the Cobbers to the Ole 30-yard line. A 13-yard completion to Cooper Gauldin set up another Johnson touchdown run - this one a four-yard push. After the missed two-point conversion Concordia held a 13-0 lead with 13:21 to play in the second quarter.
St. Olaf quarterback Nate Penz completed a pass over the middle to Nate Bauer and it appeared as if the Oles would drive again but the Cobber Black Shirts forced a three-and-out after the initial pass completion.
The Cobbers got the ball back at their own 39-yard line and Herzog guided the offense down the field. The Detroit Lakes native connected with Kevin Marzolf and freshman Marquez Henson on back-to-back plays for 17 yards apiece moving into Ole territory. Herzog would cap the eight play, 61-yard drive with a 20-yard pass to Henson followed by a fake point-after attempt in which kicker Dominic Neameyerran the ball into the end zone to give Concordia a 21-0 lead.
It was Herzog's first career touchdown pass and Henson's first collegiate touchdown.
After both teams came up empty on their next possession, St. Olaf put points on the board. Starting from Concordia's 48-yard line, Penz and Troy Peterson connected for a 43-yard strike down to the five yard line. Two plays later Penz would find Peterson on a slant route for the Ole touchdown making it 21-7.
With 2:43 remaining in the first half, Concordia got the ball back at their own 40-yard line and immediately began to move. Herzog completed a 14-yard pass to Johnson and a 13-yard pass to Baune moving the ball into Ole territory. Johnson then broke a tackle and galloped his way down to the St. Olaf 35-yard line before he was dragged down for a 21-yard gain. Johnson would finish off the drive with a four-yard touchdown run, his third of the day, making it 28-7 at the half.
St. Olaf started with the ball in the second half but the Oles turned it over on a fumble that was picked up by Matt Ahrndt and returned 12 yards to the St. Olaf 28-yard line.
Adam Essler rattled off carries of 13 and 15 yards to begin the ensuing drive that brought Concordia down to the one-yard line. It was Johnson, again, who finished off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run making it 34-7 with 10:26 to play in the third.
Concordia would add three points on a 20-yard Neameyer field goal and the Cobbers would go on to win by a 37-7 final.
MAGIC NUMBER TO 100…ZERO! Head coach Terry Horan picked up his 100th win on Saturday against the Oles. He now has a career record of 100-48 and is only the third coach in program history to reach the 100-win milestone.
QUOTABLE: "It's an honor. It goes to show that there has been a lot of great teams, great players and a lot of great coaches that have come through the program over the last 15 years. It's not an individual thing. It's a total team effort. I'm just happy that we got our third win of the season and the Troll is coming back to Moorhead." – Coach Horan on his 100th win and the significance of the victory for the program.
CAREER DAY FOR CHAD JOHNSON: With the absence of Rick Hutchinson in the backfield, Chad Johnson has taken the bulk of the carries for the Cobbers. Johnson finished with 71 yards rushing on ten carries with a career-high four touchdowns. He came into Saturday's game with 164 yards on 28 carries with a pair of rushing scores.
FILLING THE VOID: With Alex Grove battling a knee injury, back-up quarterback Michael Herzog stepped in and filled the void. Herzog was efficient through the air, completing 14-of-24 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown. He was also able to use his legs to move the chains on more than one occasion en route to 40 yards rushing on 12 carries.
QUOTABLE #2: "I think I managed the game well and we were able to be efficient moving the ball. Lots of people touched the ball and I think it was a good team win moving into homecoming week!" – Michael Herzog talking about the overall team win.
ALL HANDS ON DECK: The Cobber defense held the Oles to just 257 yards of total offense on 48 snaps. Concordia's defense was only on the field for 22:07 and only allowed 12 first downs. Levi Hintermeister led the Cobbers with nine tackles, three of them solo, while four other players had four tackles.
4TH AND LONG, STILL PERFECT: Concordia went 2-for-2 on 4th down and is now 11-for-11 on the season, which is tops in nation for a team with that many attempts.
BALANCE ON THE PERIMETER: Standout receiver Brandon Zylstra was sidelined with an injury but the receivers stepped up. Jon Baune had four catches for 54 yards. Cooper Gauldin led the Cobbers in receiving as he had 62 yards receiving on three catches.
WHAT'S NEXT? Concordia will host the Bethel Royals next Saturday. The Royals and the Cobbers come into the game with identical 3-1 records. However, Bethel is 2-0 in MIAC play while Concordia stands at 1-1. A win would keep the Cobbers in the chase for a MIAC Championship while a loss would hurt their chances of winning the conference.