Brian Schumacher leads the escape as the 16th-ranked Cobbers held on to beat Carleton 39-31 in Northfield.
The Great Escape!
Gameday Scoring Recap
Courtesy of GoCobbers.com, Release: September 24
Northfield, Minn.-- It wasn't the prettiest win, but in the end Concordia held off a feisty Carleton team on a goal line stand at the end of the game and escaped with a 39-31 win over the Knights in Northfield.
The victory keeps Concordia's conference winning streak intact. The Cobbers have now won 12 straight MIAC games, a streak that dates back to the middle of the 2003 season. Concordia remains perfect on the 2005 season, as they move to 2-0 in league play and 3-0 overall. Carleton drops to 0-2 in the MIAC and 1-2 overall.
The storyline for the game was Concordia's inability to hang onto the football at key moments and Carleton's ability to come up with the big play. The Cobbers turned the ball over three times against the Knights, and Carleton had six plays that went for 25 or more yards.
It could have been worse for the Cobbers, as Carleton only recovered two of the four fumbles that found their way onto the turf.
Carleton's sophomore running back R.J. Jackson was a one-man wrecking crew for Carleton. His ability to come up with huge plays kept the Knights in the game until the very end. Jackson ran a kickoff back 81 yards for a score and had several other long gains in the game. He finished with 227 total yards and two touchdowns.
Concordia continues to punish opposing defenses on the ground. After opening the season by amassing 252 rushing yards against MSU-Moorhead and then racking up 357 yards against St. Thomas in the MIAC opener, the Cobbers pounded the Knights for 340 yards. Concordia ran the ball 61 times against Carleton and has now rushed the ball 168 times in the first three games.
For the game, Concordia outgained Carleton 393-300. The Cobbers were held to only 53 passing yards. Concordia's defense allowed only 81 rushing yards on 31 carries. It marks the second time in three games that the tough Cobber run defense has not allowed an opponent to gain over 100 yards on the ground.
Senior quarterback Brian Schumacher was the main weapon on the ground. He ran for a game-high 132 yards on 22 carries and scored one touchdown. Kevin Williamson, who is beginning to settle into the Cobbers' power back role, carried the ball 16 times and totaled a career-high 91 yards. His biggest impact was made around the goal line where he was able to score a game-high three touchdowns.
The game started out perfectly for Concordia. On Carleton's first drive of the game, Eric Svobodny collected his first career interception and ran the ball down to the Knights 5-yard line. The play set up the first of Williamson's three scores. Unfortunately, Brian Halverson's extra point attempt was blocked - play that would have significant ramifications later in the game.
Carleton went ahead on the very next series. Jackson took a screen pass and raced 50 yards to set up the score. Two plays later Carleton quarterback Darren Caspers found Mike Kootsikas in the end zone for the first of his two scores on the day.
Concordia returned the favor by hammering out a nine-play, 66-yard drive that finished off with a Cory Johnson 7-yard touchdown scamper. Johnson has scored in each of his first three games as a collegiate player. The Cobbers tried to erase the first extra point miss by going for two, but Schumacher's pass was blocked.
After the teams traded stops and the first quarter ended, Concordia opened the scoring in the second quarter and appeared to be on their way to taking control of the game. That is when Jackson stepped in and single-handedly kept the Knights close. Following a Schumacher pass to wide receiver Pete Lien - with another missed try for two - Jackson raced 81 yards on the ensuing kickoff to bring Carleton to within four at 18-14.
Carleton then grabbed the lead with just over 10 minutes remaining in the half. Once again they used a quick strike, big play offense to travel the length of the field. The Knights went 47 yards in three plays to take 21-18 lead.
Once again Concordia's response was to go on a sustained, ball control drive that ate up over six minutes of the second quarter. The Cobbers capped an 11-play, 72-yard drive with another Wlliamson short scoring run.
After halftime, Concordia scored on its first possession of the second half and appeared ready to sprint away from the Knights. Schumacher's 7-yard touchdown run made the score 32-21, and after Carleton was unable to find a big play, the Cobbers found the end zone for their sixth score of the day on a Williamson 3-yard run.
Leading 39-21 with 4:11 left in the third quarter, the game appeared to be out of reach for the Knights. Unfortunately, Carleton responded with one of the great rallies in recent MIAC history.
The Knights pulled to within 11 at 39-28 just before the end of the period when Jackson raced in from 29 yards out.
On the very first play of the next possession, a Cobber fumble gave Carleton the ball back and brought the crowd back into the game. The Knights opened the fourth quarter with a 34-yard field and suddenly it was an eight-point game at 39-31.
The two defenses stiffened and refused to allow any more big plays. Two fumbles were the major plays in the final seven minutes of the game. The first came from Carleton, who driving the ball down the field and had possession deep in Cobber territory. After Jackson took a pass and started to head up field, Cody Martinson was able to put a hit on Jackson and jar the ball loose. Matt Martinson recovered the ball and Concordia had dodged their first bullet.
The second big turnover came after Concordia had forced Carleton to punt with 2:41 left to go in the game. Needing only to run out the clock and gain a first down, the Cobbers once again coughed up the ball and gave it to the Knight's on the Concordia 37-yard line with 2:26 remaining.
Carleton, who was out of timeouts for the game-deciding series, marched the ball all the way down to the 7-yard line before four straight incomplete passes sealed the win for Concordia.
Mark Halley led the Cobber defense in tackles for the third straight game. He finished with six tackles and 2.5 tackles for a loss. Concordia "sack man" Tyler Ledyard recorded another quarterback takedown. He had one sack on the day and now has 4.5 sacks on the season.
Luke Mullerlei had a game-high 9.5 tackles, while James Colbenson made 6.5 tackles and had 2.0 tackles for a loss.
Concordia will return home to play Gustavus on Saturday, October 1 at 1:00pm. The game will be a part of the annual Homecoming festivities at Concordia.