MOORHEAD-St. Thomas wide receiver Nick Waldvogel ripped victory from the Concordia Cobbers on Saturday, Oct. 8, at Jake Christiansen Stadium.
Waldvogel made a diving 21-yard touchdown catch with two seconds remaining to lift the No. 4-ranked Tommies to a dramatic 23-20 victory in Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference football before 5,680 fans.
"It was like pulled right out of our hands," Cobbers head coach Terry Horan said. "It's not easy."
Moments earlier, it looked like Concordia (3-2, 2-1) would spring the upset after an improbable 89-yard touchdown on a hook-and-ladder play on fourth-and-23.
Cobbers junior running back Jason Montonye took the pitch from wide receiver Nick Anderson, who caught a 12-yard pass. Montonye rushed past the Tommies for the final 77 yards to give the Cobbers a 20-16 lead with 29 seconds remaining.
"It was a roller-coaster. We wanted this game really bad," Montonye said. "To have the odds against you and then overcome them and then have it flip back on you again, it's really tough."
The Tommies (6-0, 4-0) remained unbeaten and have won nine consecutive games against the Cobbers.
"I think that Concordia played an amazing game," Tommies head coach Glenn Caruso said. "Hats off to Terry and his staff. ... I think I got outcoached today."
The Cobbers were flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty on the two-point conversion after Montonye's go-ahead score. Concordia kicked off from its own 20-yard line on the ensuing kickoff. The Tommies started the final drive at their own 44 with 25 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
"When there's time on the clock all we do is stay positive and work hard," Caruso said.
A Concordia pass interference call moved St. Thomas to the Cobbers 41. Waldvogel then caught a 20-yard pass moving the ball to the 21.
On the next play, Cobbers linebacker Alex Berg stepped in front of a pass from Tommies quarterback Alex Fenske. Berg, who had a team-high 12 tackles, was unable to hold the potential interception with eight seconds remaining.
Fenske followed that with his 21-yard touchdown pass to Waldvogel in the front corner of the end zone with two seconds to play.
"I think everyone in the huddle was saying 'We're going to do it,'" Waldvogel said. "Alex (Fenske) put it right where it needed to be, it was an unbelievable throw. ... We work really, really hard for these moments."
The last-second touchdown stunned the homecoming crowd as Waldvogel and his teammates celebrated.
"There is nothing worse," said Cobbers senior linebacker Hank Van Liew, who had 11 tackles. "When you have something and you can't seal the deal, I don't think there is anything worse than that."
Waldvogel finished with 154 receiving yards on 11 catches. The 5-foot-8, 178-pound senior had two catches on the final drive for 41 yards.
"They made a play," Horan said. "You've got to give them credit. It wasn't an easy catch, it wasn't an easy throw."
The Cobbers rushed for 272 yards on 42 attempts against St. Thomas, which was holding opponents to 48.6 rushing yards per contest entering the game. Cobbers junior running back Chad Johnson rushed for 146 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.
"Our kids did everything we asked them to do today and then some," Horan said. "They are such champions and warriors and I love them to pieces."
St. Thomas 0 3 7 13--24
Concordia 7 0 0 13--20
CC--Johnson 28 run (Clifton kick)
ST--Stensapir 33 FG
ST--Reed 56 pass from Fenske (Stensapir kick)
ST--Trettel 2 run (pass failed)
CC--Johnson 36 run (Clifton kick)
CC--Montonye 77 pass from Herzog (run failed)
ST--Waldvogel 21 pass from Fenske (Stensapir kick)
RUSHING: UST, Trettel 20-61, Parks 8-16, Waldvogel 5-8, Fenske 6-2. CC, Johnson 14-146, Herzog 15-80, Montonye 6-30, Maanum 2-9, Gessell 1-5, Ringquist 3-4, Cihak 1-(minus-2).
PASSING: UST, Fenske 22-31-0 373 yards. CC, Herzog 2-8-1 96.
RECEIVING: UST, Waldvogel 11-154, Reed 3-109, O'Neil 1-52, Trettel 2-25, Hull 2-18, Christenson 1-11, Finn 1-6. CC, Montonye 0-77, Anderson 1-12, Marzoff 1-7.