The Concordia Cobbers run a triple-option offense that is geared to give their running backs and quarterback great opportunities to run. This has made their group of running backs, Alex McLean, Zach Southwick and Rick Hutchinson, and QB, Griffin Neal, one of the toughest combinations in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) to stop. There are just so many quality backs and the scheme is difficult to figure out who has the ball. It is easy to see why they are able to move the ball so well on the ground, as they did on Saturday when the team combined for 218 yards. However, big days through the air are not usually the norm. Neal decided it was a day to be very abnormal.
Cobbers quarterback Griffin Neal proved why he is in the discussion for the conference MVP by going 17-23 for 272 yards and three touchdowns. When the 38 yards he gained on the ground are added in, it was an incredible day worthy of an MVP candidate.
Concordia scored on their opening drive when Alex McLean punched it in from one-yard out to make it 7-0. On their next drive the Cobbers were moving the ball, but on a second and one play, Neal fumbled giving the ball to the Pipers.
Wanting to make-up for his turnover, the QB led his team on scoring drives on their next two possessions that ended with touchdown passes from Neal on both drives. The first one ended when Neal hit Brandon Zylstra for a three-yard touchdown pass and on the next drive his pass to Zylstra resulted in a 50-yard score. The first drive saw the Cobbers quarterback complete all three passes for 36-yards and he had two carries for 33-yards more, The second drive he completed both pass attempts for 64-yards. Redemption was the order of the day for Neal.
Domenic Fraboni’s one-yard run for a score with 3:14 left in the half would make the score 29-0, and at that point it was only a matter of how many more scores they were going to get.
The Pipers offense was having some success moving the ball, but they were coming away with nothing on the scoreboard. Their first drive went 65-yards before stalling. They settled for a field goal attempt, but missed. After recovering a fumble to start their next possession they moved to the Concordia 28, but were unable to convert a fourth and 10, and gave the ball back to the Cobbers. Two straight three-n-outs followed before the team mounted an 11-play, 53-yard drive that set the team up at the Cobbers 23, but they were unable to convert on fourth and nine, turning the ball over on downs for the second time in the half.
Alex Grove relieved Neal in the second half for Concordia and scored two touchdowns, a 13-yard run and a two-yarder. The two touchdowns closed out the scoring at 42 for the Cobbers. In the fourth the Pipers finally got on the board. Kyle Johnson’s 25-yard pass to Tyler Drewlo closed the game at 42-6.
McLean finished with eight carries for 76 yards and two touchdowns for Concordia. Austin Duncan led the Pipers with 14 carries and 66 yards. Zylstra had four catches for 88 yards and two scores for the winners.
Next week Hamline welcomes St. Olaf to St. Paul. The Concordia Cobbers also travel to St. Paul, but will face the St. Thomas Tommies.
By Robert Pannier