Concordia Cobbers Remain Undefeated with Dominate 52-14 Win
Most kids are taught to share. The Concordia Cobbers must not have been taught that lesson. For the fourth game in a row Concordia held onto the ball for over 35 minutes, this time against the St. Olaf Oles on their way to a 52-14 win. While it may not be very fair-minded not to share, it is sure helping the team to an undefeated record four games into the season, and has helped them reach No. 19 in the national standings.
While the stats point to a dominant win, they do not show how Concordia truly controlled this game. Concordia had 494 yards to the Oles 212. They had a time of possession advantage of 36:43 to 23:17. The Cobbers converted nine of 13 third and fourth down chances to six of 14 for St. Olaf. Concordia had 26 first downs to the Oles 13.
These stats do speak of a perfectly designed game plan that was implemented to perfection, but the stat that really speaks volumes to how crushing this victory was, besides the score, was 191 rushing yards for Concordia to 34 for St. Olaf. This is where the Cobbers took over the game, by controlling the clock with their running game, and using their defense to control the line of scrimmage and allow the Oles no running lanes of any kind. This is how the Cobbers control the clock and dominate games.
Jason Montonya made sure that the Oles knew this was going to be a long day on the very first play of the game, when he received the opening kickoff at the 15, and raced 75 yards to St. Olaf’s 10 before being taken down. With the short field it took the Cobbers three plays to score, with QB Grifffin Neal taking it into the end zone on a two-yard keeper for a 7-0 lead.
Two possessions later the Cobbers took the ball at their own 36, and then began a 13-play, 64-yard drive that ate 6:14 off the clock on their way to a four-yard run for a touchdown by Alex McLean. The drive included a huge third and nine conversion, where Neal hit Brandon Zylstra for an 11-yard gain to the St. Olaf 41, keeping the drive alive. Seven plays later McLean scored and the rout was on.
The second quarter saw St. Olaf get on the board, but not before they were down 28-0. Meanwhile, starting with the McLean’s touchdown run, Concordia scored on five successive possessions. On their first drive of the second quarter Concordia moved 52 yards in just five plays with McLean scoring again, this time from two yards out to make the score 21-0. Neal completed all four of his pass attempts on the drive, including a 20-yard pass play to Zach Southwick and a 16-yard one to Rick Hutchinson. He 15-yard hook-up with Brandon Zylstra moved the ball to two, where McLean scored on the next play.
Concordia was pinned deep on their next possession, starting at their own five-yard line, but distance made no difference on this series. Another five-play drive ended with Zylstra taking the ball on a reverse and then scampering 61 yards for the score. The Cobbers took just 2:56 off the clock to move 95 yards, and were leading 28-0.
The Oles finally scored when QB Nate Penz led a seven play, 69-yard drive that ended with a 16-yard scoring strike from Penz to Alex Nelson. Penz threw on every down, completing four passes, including the touchdown throw.
With 1:58 left in the half, Concordia had one last chance to score before the break, and that is what they did. Neal moved the Cobbers to the Oles 18 where Ben Wagner hit a 34-yard field goal to close out the half.
CC went into the locker room thoroughly dominating every aspect of the game. St. Olaf had just 29 total plays in the first-half for 106 yards, and the seven-play touchdown drive was their longest sustained drive of the half.
The Oles took the ball to start the second half, but were forced to punt after gaining just seven yards. That brought Neal back onto the field. Starting at the Oles 47, he led another quick strike drive of four-plays that lasted just 1:59. The huge play of the drive was on fourth and five from the 42. Neal found a wide open Zach Southwick, who took the ball to the house, a 42-yard touchdown strike that extended the lead to 35-7.
St. Olaf then responded. They took the ball from their own 16, and Penz led a nine-play, 84-yard drive that ended when the QB found Alex Nelson for the 11-yard touchdown. With no ability to run the ball, Penz passed on eight of the nine plays, completing five.
From there it was all Cobbers. Near the end of the third quarter Neal passed to Joe Baune for a 29-yard touchdown that capped-off a six-play, 58-yard drive. On the Oles next drive Bryan Aviles fumbled on the first play and it was recovered by Collin Denny. Alex Gordon came in to quarterback at that point and hit Chad Johnson for a 17-yard touchdown pass to make it 52-14 and that is how the game ended.
Neal had a solid day at quarterback, completing 22-29 passes for 272 yards and two scores. Penz was 21-39 for St. Olaf for 178 yards and two TDs of his own. On the ground the Cobbers spread the wealth, as six players had at least three carries. Zylstra led the team with his 61-yard touchdown run earlier. For St. Olaf JJ Strand led the team with four carries for 23 yards.
Next week the undefeated Cobbers travel to Bethel in what should be a pivotal game for the MIAC title. St. Olaf welcomes St. Thomas to Northfield.
By Robert Pannier