La Crosse, Wis. - The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse football team opened its 2019 season with a 21-14 overtime win over Concordia College-Moorhead (Minn.) Saturday afternoon at Roger Harring Stadium at Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex. The Cobbers were also playing their season-opener.
In the second-ever meeting between the two teams, the game remained scoreless after the first quarter. Concordia-Moorhead (Minn.) had a chance early in the game after Willie Julkes blocked Sean Parker's punt with the Cobbers taking over at the Eagles' 36-yard line. The Cobbers drove to the 19-yard line, but Jake Lunceford was stopped short on fourth-and-four. UWL won the only other contest with Concordia-Moorhead (Minn.), earning a 45-7 victory in the first round of the 1995 NCAA Division III Championships.
The Cobbers took a 7-0 lead with 7:07 left in the second period on Andy Gravdahl's 45-yard touchdown run. The Eagles quickly responded on their next drive, as Evan Lewandowski threw a 73-yard touchdown pass to Jake Simuncak to tie the game with 5:34 remaining in the half.
The game remained tied, 7-7, at halftime.
UWL took its first lead with 2:23 left in the third quarter on Jack Dwyer's 42-yard touchdown pass to Cole Spieker. The drive went 86 yards in seven plays and 3:47 as Dwyer hit on all three of his passing attempts for 58 yards. Concordia-Moorhead (Minn.) fumbled on its next drive with UWL's Joey Boldarecovering at the Cobbers' 17-yard line. The Eagles failed to score as Ryan Beirne missed a 32-yard field goal attempt. UWL maintained its seven-point lead after the third quarter.
Concordia-Moorhead (Minn.) went to the UWL 26-yard line in the fourth quarter, but facing fourth-and-11, Blake Kragnes was intercepted by UWL's Peter Kissling. The Eagles were forced to punt with the Cobbers taking over at UWL's 33-yard line with 4:19 left, but the Cobbers turned the ball over on downs at the 30-yard line.
Parker had his second punt blocked by Julkes on UWL's next possession with Concordia-Moorhead (Minn.) taking over at the UWL 27-yard line. The Cobbers tied the game as Kragnes connected with Matt Bye for a 12-yard touchdown pass with :30 left. The drive went 27 yards on five plays and :48.
Lewandowski was sacked on UWL's first play of the next drive and the team's went to overtime.
The Eagles scored on their overtime possession with Lewandowski throwing a seven-yard touchdown pass to Dominic Labellarte on third-and-goal. Beirne's extra-point made it 21-14. On the first play of the Cobbers' possession, Kissling recovered Zach Wolf's fumble to end the game.
UWL, receiving votes in the D3football.com Top-25 Preseason Poll, finished with 321 yards of offense Saturday. The Eagles had 70 yards rushing and 251 passing. Jake Simuncak had 28 yards rushing on three carries while Lewandowski finished 13-of-28 passing for 190 yards and two touchdowns. Dwyer was four-of-seven for 61 yards and a touchdown. Simuncak caught eight passes for 124 yards and one touchdown.
Concordia-Moorhead (Minn.) totaled 241 yards of offense, including 155 rushing and 86 passing. Gravdahl led the team with 45 yards rushing, all coming on his touchdown. Kragnes was six-of-22 for 86 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Bye (69 yards) and Gravdahl (17) each had three catches.
The Eagles were seven-of-16 on third-down while the Cobbers finished five-of-15. Concordia-Moorhead (Minn.) missed all three of its fourth-down attempts. The team won time of possession, 33:46 to 26:14.
Bolda led UWL with nine tackles, including 2.0 for loss. He also had one quarterback sack and two fumble recoveries. Noah Schoberhad seven tackles. Sam Michel led Concordia-Moorhead (Minn.) with eight tackles while also finishing with one fumble recovery. Angel Ledezma had two quarterback sacks.
UWL is now 7-1 in its last eight season-openers, including six straight wins. The Eagles, now 9-1 under head coach Mike Schmidt in non-conference play, improved to 10-8 all-time in overtime with Saturday's win.
UWL returns to action Saturday, September 14 hosting 15th-ranked Illinois Wesleyan University at 1 p.m. on Band Day.