St. John's snatches win away in closing seconds
For 59:35, the Cobber defensive game plan had worked perfectly, holding the vaunted St. John's offense to only 14 points and -17 rushing yards. In the last 30 seconds, Concordia allowed a 74-yard touchdown pass and lost to 5th-ranked St. John's 20-16.
Concordia used a stifling defense and just enough offense to claim a 16-14 lead with 8:23 left in the fourth quarter. After stopping the Johnnies on two possessions and running the clock down to under one minute before punting the ball to St. John's. The Johnnies took over on their own 26-yard line with 25 seconds remaining, trailing by two and not owning a timeout. On the very first play, St. John's quarterback Alex Kofoed eluded a swarming Cobber pash rush, stepped up into the pocket and let loose with a perfectly thrown strike that found Kyle Gearman. Gearman caught the pass, and ran the final 35 yards to complete the game-winning score.
The unbelievable finish was part of a game that was a statement to everything that is great about college football. The two teams combined to put on a show of hard-hitting, well-executed football that was played in front of 5,840 fortunate fans. Concordia and St. John's staged another classic battle between the two programs that have been at the top of the MIAC for the past 30 years.
The Concordia defense posted the most eye-catching statistic of the game. The Cobbers held the St. John's rushing attack to -17 total yards for the entire game. The only other time the Johnnies have been held to negative rushing yardage in double-digits was back in 2000, when Concordia held St. John's to -23 rushing yards.
The Cobber defense also produced four sacks and continually came up with the big play.
The Concordia offense struggled against the highly-ranked St. John's defense but produced to huge scoring plays to post 16 points and 215 yards of total offense.
Ben Thoreson hauled in a 76-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to stake the Cobbers to a 10-0 lead, and then Brian Schumacher ran through the heart of the St. John's defense midway through the fourth period to retake the lead and give Concordia a 16-14 lead.
The Johnnies, held scoreless in the first two quarters, did most of their scoring damage at the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth quarter. St. John's finally got on the scoreboard with 3:31 left in the third period. Corey Weber scored on a two-yard run to cut the Concordia lead to 10-7.
The Johnnies took their first lead of the day with 11:38 left in the fourth quarter. Kofoed hooked up with Gearman on a 5-yard slant pattern for a touchdown.
St. John's entered the game without playing from behind all season. Brian Halverson's 19-yard field goal with 6:00 left in the first quarter snapped a St. John's streak of 369 minutes without trailing.
Halverson's successful field goal attempt was his fifth on the season and 28th in his career. He now needs two more field goals to break the Concordia record for most field goals in a career.
For the game, Concordia rushed for 98 yards on 44 carries. The Cobbers also threw for 117 yards as Schumacher went 4-for-11.
St. John's racked up most of their yards with the pass. Quarterback Alex Kofoed went 30-of-48 for 336 yards. Kofoed's favorite target was running back Corey Weber. Weber collected 11 passes for 82 yards. Gearman had a game-high 126 yards in receptions, 74 on the game-winning TD strike, on five catches.
The Concordia defensive line was impressive all game long. Dustin Carlson had his best game in maroon and gold. The sophomore from Willmar, Minn., had a game-high two sacks and finished with three total tackles. Mark Halley had a game-high eight tackles for the Cobbers. Ben Aakre, Dave Moll and Ross Hebrink followed closely behind with six tackles each. All three were key parts to a defensive unit that played its top game to date.
Matt Hawn led the Johnnie defense he finished with eight tackles. He also had three tackles for a loss and one sack. Damien Dumonceaux finished with six tackles and preseason All-American Jason Good added five tackles.
The pair did not have a sack in the game as the Cobber offensive line led by senior center David Uselman did a terrific job of keeping the top two Johnnie defensive players in check.