First Quarter Surge Propels Warriors to Season-Ending Victory
Wauwatosa, Wisconsin – The Wisconsin Lutheran College Warriors jumped out to 14 unanswered points to start the contest, then held on for a 28-21 victory over Concordia-Chicago on Saturday. It was the final game of the season for the Warriors, who finished 4-6 overall, including going 4-4 in the NACC. Bryce Barbian threw for 255 yards and three touchdowns and Jamil Gordon had five receptions for 95 yards and two TDs.
Wisconsin Lutheran looked like they would leave no doubt in this contest, scoring on their first two possessions of the game. WLC took the opening kickoff and moved 65 yards in nine plays. Barbian had a huge third down conversion on the drive, finding Mike DuPree for 13 yards to midfield. On the ninth play, the quarterback found Gordon for an 11-yard touchdown to make it 7-0.
The Cougars were forced to punt, but pinned the Warriors at their own 4 yard line. Barbian did not panic, however, giving the ball to DuPree on the first play for 5 yards, then finding Landon Neeley for a 15-yard reception to the 24-yard line. On the next play, Barbian found Gordon in the slot, who broke a tackle, then raced 76 yards for the score to make it 14-0.
Concordia was able to move the ball on the next possession, reaching the WLC 9-yard line. There they faced fourth and nine, opting to go for the field goal. Ryan Auer’s kick was blocked by Carter Schneider, denying the Cougars any points.
On their next possession, Concordia was able to get on the board, going 41 yards in five plays. Jakob Redmond had the big play of the drive, finding Henry Jones for a 36-yard catch and run over the middle on fourth and six. On the next play, Joron Brown scored from one-yard out to make it 14-7. That was the score heading to the half.
The Warriors defense forced a turnover on downs on the first possession of the half for the Cougars, giving Barbian and the offense the ball at their own 38. Barbian found Trevion Green on second and 11 for 14-yards and then Green carried the ball up the middle for 18 more. The Warriors reached the Cougars seven, but a pass interference call and an illegal forward pass set up fourth and goal at the 25. The coaching staff opted to go for it and Barbian rewarded them, finding Neeley for the touchdown to make it 21-7.
Concordia was undaunted, going the other way where they would cut the deficit back to seven. A 19-yard run by Redmond put the ball at the WLC six scored on the next play to make it 21-14.
The Warriors moved the Concordia 25 early in the second quarter, but were unable to add to their lead when Arnulfo Ortega missed a 42-yard field goal. However, the special teams came up big as the Cougars were forced to punt on the ensuing possession and Savon Goodwin blocked the punt, giving WLC that ball at the Concordia 22. Four plays later, Dupree rushed up the middle for a seven-yard touchdown to make it 28-14.
Concordia-Chicago responded with a nine-play, 75-yard drive that saw them reduce the deficit ponce again to seven. Brown finished off the drive with a three-yard score.
That left 6:06 left on the clock and Concordia got a big break when Ryan Ayers blocked a Nate Griffeth punt, giving the Cougars the ball at the WLC 15 with 2:50 left on the clock. It was looking dicey, but the defense came up big, forcing a fumble that resulted in a seven-yard loss on the first play. A run by Brown resulted in a two-yard loss on the next play and an incomplete pass set up fourth and 19. Redmond then took the snap, looking for Gabe Dace, but the ball fell incomplete. The Warriors then ran out the remaining 1:22 to seal the victory.
Barbian finished 18 of 28 for 255 yards and three TDs. Griffeth finished off the game, going 7-7 for 53 yards. Dupree had 14 carries for 63 yards and a score and Gordon had five catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns. The defense was led by Nathan Nevad and Brandon Antczak, who each had seven tackles.
The Warriors finished 4-6, equaling last year’s mark.
By Robert Pannier