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Record-setting QB Tanner DuBois leads Cobbers into MIAC football championship week game

Concordia Cobbers senior quarterback Tanner DuBois, a Fargo South graduate, plans to take advantage of an NCAA eligibility waiver and return for an extra football season next fall.

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Concordia Cobbers quarterback Tanner DuBois has set multiple school records this fall in his first season as a starter. Concordia Sports Information photo

MOORHEAD — The Concordia Cobbers are honoring their 22 seniors this weekend at Jake Christiansen Stadium, but more than 80% of that class intends to return next fall.

Cobbers head coach Terry Horan said 18 plan to take advantage of an NCAA eligibility waiver due to the coronavirus pandemic to return for an extra football season.

“We’re doing a few extra special things for the four that aren’t coming back,” Horan said.

The Cobbers (4-5) play Gustavus (7-2) at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13, for Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship week, a new addition to the league this season.

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Concordia head football coach Terry Horan, headset, led the Cobbers to a No. 2 seed in the MIAC Skyline Division this fall. Concordia Sports Information photo

Concordia, the No. 2 seed in the Skyline Division, is hosting Gustavus, the No. 2 seed in the Northwoods Division. Bethel and St. John’s, the top seeds in each division, are playing for the conference championship and the league’s automatic bid for the Division III playoffs.

“We had to work hard to get to that spot the last few weeks,” Horan said. “We’ve put ourselves in position to finish third place in our league, which is a big deal.”

The Cobbers have won two consecutive games and have a chance to finish the season with a .500 record after a 2-5 start. Cobbers senior quarterback Tanner DuBois, who intends to return for a super-senior season next fall, likes the championship week concept.

“It definitely does offer a different sense of extra competition for that last week of the season for teams that aren’t competing to go to the playoffs so I really like it,” said DuBois, a Fargo South graduate.

DuBois has had a record-setting season in his first season as the starter. The Cobbers have transitioned to a pass-heavy, up-tempo spread offense, moving away from the program’s traditional run-based, triple-option offense.

The 6-foot, 190-pound DuBois has completed 231 of 342 passes for 2,299 yards, setting the program’s single-season records for completions, pass attempts and passing yards, surpassing former Concordia QB greats Griffin Neal and Mike Dunham in those statistical categories. Neal passed for 2,158 yards in 2013, while Dunham completed 193 passes on 304 attempts in 2010.

Horan likes how DuBois has navigated the new offense in his first year as the starter.

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“He’s done a really nice job,” Horan said. “There’s a lot on a quarterback’s plate and he’s handled it really, really well. He’s a good, solid student of the game. He’s one of the guys coming back (next fall). He’s only going to be better next year.”

The Cobbers are slated to have a rematch against Gustavus, which earned a 36-21 home victory against Concordia in St. Peter, Minn., in late September. Gusties quarterback Jake Breitbach had a big game in the first meeting, coming on in relief of injured starter Michael Veldman. Breitbach completed 17 of 22 passes for 212 yards and also rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown on 16 attempts. Brett Hufendick has played QB for the Gusties the past two games, passing for at least 243 yards in back-to-back victories.

“It’s a good way to end the season, trying to get another crack at those guys,” DuBois said. “It definitely provides a new sense of motivation.”

DuBois likes the resilience the Cobbers have shown this fall after the team’s 28-27 overtime loss at Carleton on Oct. 23. The week before that, the Cobbers dropped a 21-16 home decision against division-winner Bethel. Those back-to-back losses had Concordia three games below .500 with three games remaining in the regular season.

“We’ve got a very motivated group of guys and we weren’t just going to throw in the towel,” DuBois said. “We all love playing football. It really shows what kind of guys we have in the locker room. … When things weren’t going our way, we really battled through some adversity. We’ve all really grown as individuals and as a team. I’m really proud of our guys for sure.”

Horan said linebacker Sam Hegg-Entzion, defensive lineman Mykal Tuiolosega-Siufanua, receiver Zach Wolf and linebacker Trevor Dufalt are the seniors who are playing their final games with the Cobbers this weekend.

“It’s nice that a lot of us are coming back, but we still want to honor those guys that aren’t or that came back for an extra year this year,” DuBois said. “There is something special about all the seniors being honored.”

Horan said a season-ending victory against Gustavus would be a good springboard into next fall guided by the expected 18 super seniors.

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“They’re the type of seniors that will lead us into that offseason with a little extra specialness,” Horan said.

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