/seasons/2017/contrib/20171021i7wpg3

CUC Cougars Have Too Many Weapons for Falcons

More news about: Concordia-Chicago

Oct. 21, 2017 - For the first half of the 2017 season, the Concordia University Chicago Cougars' best moments of the season came on the road with early wins against Ripon College and Kalamazoo College. Today, the Cougars put everything together in front of their fans, and the result was a 37-17 thumping of archrival Concordia University Wisconsin on a sunny and pleasant afternoon in River Forest.

The Cougars took the opening kickoff, and two Shane Virnala keepers picked up the initial first down of the game. Runs by Tylor Martens and Robert Dominguez and short passes to Dominguez and Ryan Allison kept the CUC drive marching steadily downfield. Finally, on a second and 12from the 42, Virnala aired it out and hit Allison angling toward the right sideline. Allison outraced the coverage for the opening touchdown and a 7-0 lead just four minutes into the game. 

The Falcons looked to answer on their first possession, driving as far as the CUC 31, but they were turned back and forced to punt. Concordia-Chicago was pushed back to its own five, but the Cougars continued to put the early momentum squarely on their side. Allison got the Cougars out of the hole with a reception for 17 yards, and Corey Dooley later caught a pass ffor a first down at the Falcons' 32. From there, Virnala went deep to the end zone for Leroy Bridges III. It appeared as if the defender had a bead on the ball, but Bridges was able to wrest it away for the acrobatic touchdown catch. Orlando Hayes' extra point made it a 14-0 lead for the home team after one quarter.

"I was really impressed that Shane came back and had an awesome game today," said CUC head coach Randy Awrey. "He really had the demeanor, the 'field general' mentality about him from the start. He was great about using lots of different receivers, and they contributed too with some very fine catches." 

The Cougars threatened to turn the game into a rout early in the second quarter. They held the ball for 12 plays and gained a first-and goal at the four when Virnala kept the ball on a fourth-and-one for a 13-yard gain. However, the Cougars were turned away at the one-yard line with no points. 

The Falcons took over and marched 88 yards the other way on a 17-play drive. However, CUC's defense was stingy when it had to be, and they forced a couple of incompletions to bring up fourth down. The Falcons opted for the field goal, and Jacob Mason came on to boot a 27-yarder to cut the home team's lead to 14-3.

With five minutes remaining in the half, the Cougars took the ensuing kickoff and were able to eat some clock and respond to the field goal. Virnala hit Bridges for gains of 12 and 11 yards, and Martens for 12 yards. A nine-yard pass to D.J. Perry moved the ball to the 15 and, when the drive stalled there, Hayes came on to connect on a three-pointer from 32 yards out. The Falcons had little time to do anything of consequence, and the half came to an end with CUC leading 17-3.

The third quarter belonged to the Cougars' defense. Jaylan Cox, Adeoluwa Olaniyan and Romario Coley all recorded sacks on CUW's first two drives; Coley's was especially important after the Falcons had gotten the ball back on a CUC fumble. The Cougars took over after the Falcons were forced to punt, and Martens broke loose on a 53-yard run to the 12-yard line. On the next play, Virnala hit Perry on the right side of the end zone for a 23-3 lead (two-point conversion attempt failed).

Martens excelled as the Cougars' featured running back today, showing speed and power while racking up 146 yards on 16 carries. "Martens did a nice job, knowing that he was going to be getting the ball, and our offensive line also did a great job in creating running lanes for him," said Awrey. 

Late in the third quarter, the Cougars earned another chance to score after Trevaugn Collins timed his hit perfectly on a CUW pitch back, giving Steven Tobie the chance to corral the loose ball. Passes of 11 yards to Robert Padilla and 12 yards to Dominguez advanced the ball to the 33. Then, on the first play of the fourth quarter, Virnala went deep to the left corner of the end zone where Allison was waiting to haul in the rainbow throw, and the Cougars had a 30-3 lead.

On the ensuing CUW drive, the Falcons drove to the CUC 26 on a 45-yard pass play. But once again, a sack brought an end to the drive, this one by Collins on fourth down. Concordia Wisconsin got the ball back after a CUC three-and-out, but the Falcons only had the ball for a few moments before quarterback Dalton Poole was hit in the backfield. Ivan Vixamar scooped up the loose ball and rambled 46 yards to the south end zone, and suddenly the home team had a 37-3 lead. 

The Falcons would score two touchdowns late (Poole 20 yards to Demarcus Heglar and 14 yards to Devin Kooi), but the Cougars' defensive effort still garnered praise from Awrey. "I thought that (defensive coordinator) Mike Juscik put together a fine game plan, and our guys did a great job in executing it. We were able to pressure their quarterbacks and do very well in holding firm when we needed to."

Virnala connected on 27 of 36 passes for 330 yards and four touchdowns. He used seven different receivers, with Allison leading the way with nine catches for 136 yards. The rushing game accounted for 150 yards, giving CUC 480 yards of total offense. CUW amassed 405 yards of offense, with Bryan Gudka and Poole combining for 26-45 and 284 in the passing game. Blake Wilson rushed for 77 of the Falcons' 121 yards on the ground. Defensive leaders were, for CUW, Albert Goerlitz with 10 solo tackles and, for CUC, Demetrius Rufus with nine tackles (seven solo).

The Cougars (3-3, 1-2 NACC) will host Benedictine University next Saturday, Oct. 28 in a noon kickoff.

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D3football.com Top 25, preseason

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1 Mary Hardin-Baylor (24) 15-0 624
2 Mount Union (1) 14-1 599
3 St. John's 12-1 566
4 UW-Whitewater 12-1 555
5 North Central (Ill.) 10-2 482
6 Johns Hopkins 12-2 457
7 St. Thomas 8-2 414
8 Muhlenberg 11-2 405
9 Hardin-Simmons 9-2 397
10 Bethel 11-2 396  
11 Whitworth 10-1 336  
12 Linfield 7-2 291  
13 Brockport 11-1 230  
14 Delaware Valley 9-2 223  
15 Illinois Wesleyan 8-2 197  
16 Berry 10-2 190  
17 John Carroll 9-2 168  
18 Wittenberg 9-1 162  
19 RPI 10-2 152  
20 Centre 10-2 137  
21 Washington and Jefferson 9-2 132  
22 Wheaton (Ill.) 8-2 109  
23 Wabash 9-1 105  
24 Randolph-Macon 9-3 91  
25 St. Norbert 10-2 83

Others receiving votes: Trine 73; UW-La Crosse 71; Wartburg 61; Wesley 59; Washington U. 58; Montclair State 49; Alfred 48; Ithaca 42; UW-Oshkosh 40; Central 29; Case Western Reserve 25; Baldwin Wallace 20; Salisbury 15; Trinity (Texas) 10; Hope 10; Redlands 6; Marietta 3; Trinity (Conn.) 3, MIT 2.

The D3football.com Top 25 is voted on by a panel of 25 coaches, Sports Information Directors and media members from across the country, and is published weekly. Points are awarded on a 25-24-23-22-etc. basis.