MOORHEAD, Minn. -- Concordia’s 2009 season preview, written by Sports Information Director wizard Jim Cella, laid it out plain and simple -- first paragraph, third sentence.
“The one thing that has Horan (head coach Terry Horan) concerned has been the team’s penchant for turning the ball over multiple times in a single game.”
It happened five times last year in a season-opening loss to the Willamette Bearcats and with just 49 seconds gone in this year's contest, things looked eerily familiar.
On second-and-6, senior running back Craig Lachowitzer took the handoff and fumbled. Willamette defensive end Cory Lowe scooped it up and rumbled 38 yards for a touchdown.
Through two games against Willamette spanning 60 minutes and 49 seconds, the Concordia Cobbers had six turnovers, 13 points, a loss and a 0-7 deficit.
Cella’s preview was looking prophetic.
The Cobbers didn’t dwell on the turnover or the deficit. Their offense got on the field and mounted a 72 yard scoring drive on 14 rushes to tie the score. Then they scored again on a short rush by quarterback Andrew Larson. A Carl Hauser field goal pushed the lead to 10 and then the Cobbers went for the jugular.
With 41 seconds remaining in the half, the Cobbers forced Willamette to punt. Junior safety Zach Debeltz backed up to return it and found a seam. He darted 74 yards to make it 24-7 and give Concordia a comfortable cushion.
While the Cobbers never got the offense rolling in the second half, the defense continued to bend and not break while holding on to a 24-17 victory. The victory was a major upset as it knocked the Bearcats from eighth in the nation to out of the Top 25.
The Cobbers still had four turnovers (three fumbles, one interception) but winning erases bad memories, if only momentarily. Holding on to the ball will remain an issue but the momentum of this victory should put Concordia in the Top 25 discussion.
After pinning the Hardin-Simmons Cowboys down 11 points at halftime on the road, Whitworth could not hold on to the lead surrendering 35 second half points in a 48-31 loss. The thorn in the Pirates' side was the Cowboys quarterback Justin Feaster. He threw three touchdowns and ran for another in the second half as the Cowboys outscored Whitworth 35-7. Feaster finished with 52 yards rushing and two touchdowns and passed 282 and four touchdowns.
Staring down what was essentially a PAT in the waning seconds of a hard-fought battle with Coe, Augustana botched the snap and never got a chance to get the 23-yard winning field goal off the ground. Coe’s Seth Johnson recovered the fumble and preserved the Kohawks 9-7 victory.
Central senior Jarred Lackey shared time as the starting quarterback last year and had stints at linebacker and a couple other positions before landing at running back this season. It appears running back will be his last experimental position. On his first carry, Lackey looked like he’d played running back since Pop Warner, bursting free for a 61-yard touchdown run with 14:01 left in the first half. It was Central’s longest run from scrimmage since a 63-yarder by Vance Schuring against St. John’s on Nov. 18, 2006. Lackey finished the day with seven rushes for 143 yards and a touchdown.
A year after quarterback issues nearly kept the Johnnies from an MIAC crown, things seem to be a little more concrete under center. Joe Boyle completed 17-27 passes for 278 yards and three touchdowns including a 46 yard strike to Ben Vanderheyden. Boyle’s composure was key for the Johnnies who had to overcome a 17-0 deficit in the second half.
The traditionally high-scoring Occidental Tigers only put up 17 points in their shutout win over Menlo but all sides of the ball contributed. Special teams got them on the board with a 28 yard field goal. Offense contributed in the third quarter with a 53-yard scoring pass. Not to be outdone, the defense chipped in their contribution with a 70-yard interception return to seal the 17-0 victory over the Oaks.
Putting together 537 yards of total offense, including 335 yards of passing from transfer quarterback Marcus Brumm in his Augsburg debut, the Auggies claimed a 44-13 victory over visiting Crown.
Brumm, who joined Augsburg from Division II Minnesota State-Mankato, completed 19-of-31 passes for 335 yards and three touchdowns. Seven Auggies caught passes, and five Auggies scored touchdowns.
It appears as though the Auggies have found a replacement for record setting quarterback Jordan Berg from a year ago.
• The UW-Platteville Pioneers improved to 11-0 in season-openers under coach Mike Emendorfer.
• Saturday marked the first time since Oct. 11, 2003 that Central had two players rush for 100 yards or more and the 504 yards of total offense is the school’s highest since gaining 571 yards against Cornell on Oct. 27, 2007.
• Wartburg’s 42-35 loss to St. Norbert was the first time an IIAC school lost to St. Norbert since 1981.
• UW-Stout used scoring plays of 230, 50 and 70 yards to beat Simpson 35-7.
• Northwestern used a 14-point flurry in 13 seconds to pull away from Wisconsin Lutheran 44-27.
• St. Thomas return man Fritz Waldvogel had first-quarter punt returns of 74 and 68 yards for touchdowns to lead the way in a 54-14 victory against Macalester.