Concordia stuffs No. 15 Wisconsin-Whitewater at the goal line to complete upset
MOORHEAD—Concordia linebacker Alex Berg has never forgiven himself for dropping an interception that would have sealed a win for the Cobbers in last year's game against then No. 4-ranked St. Thomas.
On Saturday, against No. 15 Wisconsin-Whitewater, there was a Berg again with a chance to seal an upset for Concordia. On fourth-and-goal from the Concordia 1-yard line with 28.2 seconds remaining, Berg knew a quarterback sneak was coming. Wisconsin-Whitewater's big offensive line averaged more than 300 pounds per player.
Berg shot the gap and no one picked him up, but Wisconsin-Whitewater quarterback Cole Wilber didn't keep it. He tossed it to the right to running back Drew Patterson. Berg was in no-man's land, having overran Patterson, who had nothing but the end zone in front of him. Berg jumped back and wrapped up Patterson's feet.
This time, Berg wasn't letting a victory slip through his fingers. He made the tackle for a loss to seal a 25-17 win for Concordia.
"That whole last drive you knew it was going to come to the last play," Berg said. "I could see all of our guys were tired, including me, but then you have to think about all the hours you put in the offseason and just dig deep.
"I dropped the interception against St. Thomas and it killed me. It crushed me. This feels the same way, but positive. Words can't even describe it."
Before Saturday's game, Concordia senior captain Cody Fox read from a piece of paper all the accomplishments of Wisconsin-Whitewater, a team the Cobbers have never played. He read about the six Division III national championships the Warhawks have won since 2007, the 54-4 record since 2013 and the 161-12 record since 2005.
"That's all on paper, boys," Fox said to his teammates.
On the field, the Cobbers came out with no fear. On their opening drive, they marched 75 yards on 15 plays for a touchdown, draining more than eight minutes off the clock. Michael Herzog came up with a big push on fourth-and-2 from the Wisconsin-Whitewater 19-yard line on the drive. One play later, Jason Montonye got into the end zone on a 4-yard touchdown run.
On the third play of the ensuing drive for Wisconsin-Whitewater, Berg came away with a fumble to set the Cobbers up at the Warhawks' 27. The Cobbers put three points on the board with a 25-yard field goal from Tony Kostelecky.
"That was huge," said Concordia running back Chad Johnson, who rushed for 146 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. "That was our game plan. We wanted to take time off the clock and it worked out. To come out like that and put that impact on them was huge."
The Cobbers (2-0) took a 10-3 lead into halftime, but Wisconsin-Whitewater (0-2) answered on its first possession of the second half. Despite committing four penalties on their opening drive and looking at third-and-13 from midfield, the Warhawks found the end zone thanks to a 24-yard pass and a 26-yard touchdown pass to Jarrod Ware.
Johnson had a response, going 71-yards for a touchdown on the first play of Concordia's ensuing drive. A botched snap on the kick attempt for the extra point ended up in the hands of backup quarterback Blake Kragnes, who threw it up to Evan Defer for the two-point conversion.
Wisconsin-Whitewater cut the lead to one on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Wilber to Mitchell Dess with 4 minutes, 54 seconds left in the third.
"We just saw them as another team," Johnson said. "They're going to have to give us their all too if they want to beat us. We're not just any team."
Concordia's defense came up big again early in the fourth quarter when Will Berning recovered a fumble at the Wisconsin-Whitewater 8-yard line. Two rushes from Johnson and the Cobbers were up 25-17 with 9:58 to go. The Cobbers defense wouldn't let the Warhawks get any closer.
"We didn't back down a bit," Concordia coach Terry Horan said. "We had David versus Goliath today and David said, 'Let's go.' We got the slingshot out and we did it."
W 0 3 14 0--17
C 10 0 8 7--25
C-Montonye 4 run (Kostelecky kick)
C-Kostelecky 25 FG
W-Gasienica 23 FG
W-Ware 26 pass from Wilber
C-Johnson 71 run (Kragnes pass)
W-Dess pass from Wilber (Gasienica kick)
C-Johnson 4 run (Kostelecky kick)
RUSHING: W-W, Patterson 19-69, Ringelberg 9-33, Larson 2-15, Ware 2-6, Wilber 2-0, Gumina 1-0, Peete 1-(minus 1). C, Johnson 20-146, Herzog 14-58, Ringquist 6-23, Montonye 5-13, Gessell 1-0.
PASSING: W-W, Wilber 21-36-1 241 yards. C, Herzog 9-18-0 96 yards.
RECEIVING: W-W, Ware 9-123, Osterloo 1-36, Dess 3-29, Gumina 1-19, Larson 3-11, Juoni 1-10, Ringelberg 1-8, Korpela 2-5. C, Maanum 1-36, Pavek 3-25, Johnson 2-16, Marzolf 1-9, Kragnes 1-9, Montonye 1-1.