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Cobbers 2004 Season

Sept.4  at MSU-Mhd  W 30-7
Sept.18 at UST      W 20-7
Sept.25 CARLETON    W 40-15
Oct.2   at GAC      W 42-27
Oct.9   HAMLINE     W 42-0
Oct.16  at SJU      W 21-20
Oct.23  BETHEL      W 34-23
Oct.30  AUGSBURG    W 31-6 
Nov.6   at St. Olaf W 50-7
Nov.12  MENLO       W 30-0
        @ Fargdome
Nov.20  WARTBURG    W 28-14


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Tigers 2004 Season

Sept.11 at Chapman  L 31-28
Sept.18 LEWIS&CLARK W 31-6
Sept.25 at Cal Luth.W 24-7
Oct. 2  COLO. COLL. W 50-23
Oct. 9  WHITTIER    W 42-13
Oct. 23 at Redlands W 42-28
Oct. 30 POMONA      W 27-16
Nov. 6  at La Verne W 43-27
Nov. 13 CLAREMONT   W 42-13
Nov. 20 WILLAMETTE  W 28-14

Gameday Weather

High: 30
Low: 17
Current Forecast
Game will be played inside where it is a constant 70 degrees!



2004 Concordia Cobbers
Football Gameday Recap

November 27, 2004 vs. Occidental College - Noon
at the Fargodome - Fargo, N.D.
2nd Round NCAA Playoffs
Gameday Recap
 2004 Concordia Football Line Score
Cobbers vs. Tigers
Teams 1st 2nd
Occidental 14 14
Concordia 7 7
 First meeting between the two teams.
2004 Game Starters - Stat BreakdownGame Preview - Game News and Notes

Game 12 (NCAA 2nd Round): Occidental Tigers (9-1) at Concordia College Cobbers (11-0) 
Location: The Fargodome - Fargo, N.D.
Kickoff: Noon
Radio: Live on "The Fan" 1280AM in the F-M area. Larry Knutson doing the play-by-play. Live via the website with Craig Dunkin doing the play-by-play and Adam "One Armed Scot" Johnson doing the color. 
Tickets: Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students. All tickets are general admission. There will be no advance ticket sales. Football tickets go on sale and the gates open at 11:00pm for the Noon kickoff. The Fargodome has a seating capacity for 18,700 fans and several suites on both sidelines. Scoreboards hang behind both end zones.
Last Week: Concordia beat Wartburg 28-14 (Recap). Occidental beat Willamette 28-14 (Recap). 
Rankings: Concordia finished the regular season ranked in the top five in the country. The Cobbers are ranked 4th in the latest Don Hansen Football Gazette poll. They are also ranked 4th in the poll and 6th in the AFCA poll; Occidental was not ranked at the end of the regular season. Don Hansen Football Gazette - - AFCA

The Starting Lineups:
Occidental Tigers (9-1)
Pos # Name              Ht   Wt   Yr 
RT 74 Ted Helgert       6-5  300  Sr. 
RG 68 Mark Bohnstedt    6-5  270  Jr. 
C  73 Jake Collier      5-11 305  Jr. 
LG 70 Jared Charity     6-4  305  Jr. 
LT 78 Alfredo Gamiz     6-5  280  Jr. 
QB 01 Andy Collins      6-2  205  Fr. 
WR 21 Josh Jones        6-2  200  Jr. 
WR 07 Zac Sakowski      5-9  150  Sr. 
WR 04 Ric Fukushima     5-9  170  Jr. 
TE 84 Robert Theofanis  6-2  220  So. 
RB 28 Ryan Gonzales     5-8  190  Jr. 
Pos #  Name             Ht   Wt   Yr 
DL  81 Rob Clark        6-1  245  Sr. 
N   32 Norman Williams  6-0  295  Sr. 
DL  85 Scott Ferguson   6-4  225  So. 
OLB 27 Mike Bryant      6-3  220  Jr. 
OLB 45 Anthony Ostland  6-1  205  Fr. 
ILB 47 Colin MacNeil    5-10 210  Sr. 
ILB 19 Joe Zackary      6-0  205  So. 
S   33 Andrew Gutierrez 6-2  190  Jr.
S   22 Kyle Stowers     5-11 185  Jr. 
CB  23 Jeremy Gruber    6-0  175  So. 
CB  88 Derek Turbin     6-3  200  Jr. 
Special Teams
Pos # Name               Ht   Wt  Yr 
P   86 Cory Ohnesorge    6-4  205 Jr. 
K   37 Thomas Joraanstad 5-11 180 So. 
LS  48 Tim Tanous        6-1  225 Jr. 
PR  07 Zac Sakowski      5-9  150 Sr. 
KR  07 Zac Sakowski      5-9  150 Sr. 
Concordia Cobbers (11-0)
Pos #  Name             Yr  Ht   Wt 
QB  18 Brian Schumacher Jr  6-3  210 
RB  27 Travis Christensen Sr 6-0 215 
RB  46 Ed Oehlers       Sr  5-11 220 
RB  01 Tyler Anderson   Jr  5-10 185 
WR  07 Andrew Passanante Sr 6-3  200 
WR  80 Shawn Reile      Sr  6-1  180
LT  74 Nicholas Didier  Sr  6-3  275
LG  72 Matt McCallum    So  6-4  275 
C   54 David Uselman    Jr  6-2  335 
RG  50 Jason Kelly      Sr  5-11 260 
RT  63 Ryan Johnson     Jr  6-3  275 
Pos #  Name             Yr  Ht   Wt 
DE  99 Adam Campbell    Sr  6-3  255 
DT  90 Travis Almquist  Jr  6-2  240 
NG  94 Evan Emmerich    Sr  6-2  265 
DE  55 Greg Mantz       Jr  6-2  240 
SLB 24 Ross Hebrink     Jr  6-1  210 
MLB 16 Doug Runke       Sr  6-2  225 
WLB 43 Josh Dietz       Sr  6-1  220 
WCB 09 Jordan Talge     Sr  5-11 185 
ROV 19 Tanner Radermacher Jr 6-2 190 
FS  47 Eric Preszler    Sr  6-2  190 
SCB 29 Eric Svobodny    Jr  6-0  180 
Special Teams
Pos   #  Name             Yr  Ht   Wt 
LS    80 Shawn Reile      Sr  6-1  180 
S     14 Jeff Aasgaard    Fr  6-3  195 
H     09 Jordan Talge     Sr  5-11 185
P/KO  25 Lucas Draxten    Sr  6-5  185 
PK    38 Brian Halverson  Jr  6-1  175 
KR    01 Tyler Anderson   Jr  5-10 185 
PR    07 Andrew Passanante Sr 6-3  200 
PR/KR 10 Chris Klabo      So  6-0  200

Cobbers vs. Tigers Stat Breakdown (Overall Games)

36.6       Points Per Game                 33.5 
18.2       Opponents points per game       11.1
184        FIRST DOWNS                      239 
187        OPP. FIRST DOWNS                 134
1750       RUSHING YARDAGE                 2453 
1318       OPP. RUSHING YARDAGE             801
194.4      RUSHING YDS PER GAME           223.0
146.4      OPP. RUSHING YDS PER GAME       72.8 
28         TDs Rushing                       30
9          OPP. TDs Rushing                   6 
1702       PASSING YARDAGE                 1829 
1866       OPP PASSING YARDAGE             1599
189.1      PASSING YDS PER GAME           166.3 
207.3      OPP. PASSING YDS PER GAME      145.4 
15         TDs Passing                       17
12         OPP. TDs Passing                   8
3452       TOTAL OFFENSE                   4282 
3184       OPP TOTAL OFFENSE               2400
383.6      Average Per Game               389.3 
353.8      Opp. Average Per Game          218.2
13-8       FUMBLES-LOST                   21-12 
16-9       OPP. FUMBLES-LOST               12-8
60-543     PENALTIES-YARDS               57-463 
50-416     OPP. PENALTIES-YARDS          52-463
28:53      TIME OF POSSESSION/GAME        34:02 
30:20      OPP.TIME OF POSSESSION/GAME    25:03
49/104     3RD-DOWN CONVERSIONS          77/163 
52/140     OPP. 3RD-DOWN CONVERSION      47/160
7/10       4TH-DOWN CONVERSIONS           12/18 
14/27      OPP. 4TH-DOWN CONVERSIONS      11/36

Cobbers vs. Tigers Preview
The Coaches
Concordia head coach Terry Horan (Concordia ’89) is in his fourth year as head football coach at Concordia College. Last season he helped the Cobbers to a 7-3 overall mark and a 6-2 MIAC record. In 2002 he was named the MIAC Coach of the Year as he guided the Cobbers to a second place finish. In his first three seasons at the helm, he has compiled a 17-8 conference record and a 19-11 overall mark.

After 21 seasons as head coach at Occidental, Dale Widolff has built one of the most successful small-college football programs in the West. His record in the past three years stands at 20-7 with one SCIAC championship.  In 2003, Widolff's squad finished 7-2 with the best overall record in the conference earning second place.  The previous year his 2002 team finished 5-4.  Widolff's 2001 squad clinched the conference title with a 8-1 overall record and went undefeated in SCIAC play. With seven conference titles and three trips to the NCAA national playoffs, Widolff's Tigers have established a sterling tradition of "winning football."

Series Background
This is the first-ever meeting between the two schools. 

The Marquee Match-Up - Three for the Price of One!!
Since the game coincides with the busiest shopping time of the year, the Gameday staff thought we should have a sale of our own so we are going with a 3-fer sale on the marquee match-up. We are going to give you one and throw in the second and third key matchups for no extra price. All this, and no long lines, what could be better!!

Cobber Pass Defense vs. Occidental Passing Attack
The Tigers have a mammoth offensive line that averages almost 300 pounds and gives quarterback Andy Collins ample time to look over the opposing team's secondary. The Cobbers will have to be sharp on the defensive line to put pressure on Collins, and then the defensive backs will have to keep the Occidental receivers from getting behind them on the quick Fargodome turf. Last week the Tigers threw for over 200 yards and had a back-breaking 70-yard touchdown strike for a TD. In Occidental's six league games, they had at least one touchdown reception in each game and completed at least one pass for over 20 yards in each game. Coupled with the fact that Collins has only thrown five interceptions all year long, and you have the makings of a classic battle. 

Cobber Passing Attack vs. Occidental Pass Defense
The fans might get the chance to see a game where the ball is in the air more often than the Indiana Pacer front office has had to send time on writing apology letters. The Tigers defense gives up an average of over 200 yards per game and gave up a season-high 413 passing yards to Redlands - a game they won 42-28! The good news for Occidental is that they held Willamette to only 90 yards in passing last week. If the Tigers can produce that type of coverage, then the Cobbers could be in for a long day. Concordia on the other hand, found their passing attack last week and threw the ball 26 times for almost 200 yards. Cobber standout receiver Andrew Passanante weaved his way for nine catches and Shawn Reile quietly had another steallar game with five clutch receptions. If Concordia can throw for over 200 yards, then the team will have a good chance to break through to the third round of the playoffs.

Cobber Kick Coverage vs. Occidental Return Specialists
The one area where Concordia had a let down against Wartburg was in kick coverage. The Cobbers gave up  kick returns of 41 and 31 yards and a punt return of 42 yards. Occidental enters the game with one of the most dangerous return men in the country. Zac Sakowski is averaging 17.1 yards per punt return, which ranks him fifth in the nation. He is capable of breaking off a long-gainer at any time. He has a 49-yard punt return and a 51-yard kick return to his credit this season. If that wasn't trouble enough, Sakowski has a partner on kickoff returns that has taken a kickoff 100-yards to the house. Kyle Stowers average 44.7 yards per return in the team's six conference games. He went coast-to-coast against La Verne on November 6. If the Cobbers continually give up big returns and allow the Occidental offense a "short" field, it could be a long day for the Cobber defense. 

Scouting the Tigers
Occidental won their first playoff game since 1985 when they downed Willamette 28-14 last Saturday. The Tigers have a high-octaned offense that averages 36.6 points per game. They average 383.6 yards of total offense per game. One of the keys for the Tiger offense is their mammoth offensive line. Occidental’s line averages 292 pounds and they have three players who weigh at least 300 pounds. Quarterback Andy Collins is a freshman and has thrown for over 1,500 yards. Ryan Gonzales leads the team in rushing with 483 yards on 93 carries.  He has scored 16 TD’s on the year and is ranked 14th nationally. Defensively, Occidental does a great job of bending but not breaking. They allow 353.8 yards of offense per game, but only allow opponents to score 18.2 pts per game. Anthony Ostland has 11 sacks on the season and ranks eighth nationally. 

National Leaders
Spurred on by their first postseason win since 1986, Concordia players and the offense and defense climbed the national statistical charts. The biggest move was made by wide receiver Andrew Passanante who now factors in three different categories.

Here is a recap of the Cobber individual and team stat leaders.

Passanante is now tied for 12th in receiving yards per game (103.0). After his nine-catch performance against the Knights, he is now 31st in catches per game (6.3). He has also climbed onto the charts in punt return average. "Pace" is now 34th with a 11.6 yard average. Brian Schumacher continues to stay in the top 20 in passing efficiency. He is ranked 15th in that category (149.9). On defense, Jordan Talge is now tied for 8th in interceptions per game (0.7) and 21st in passes defended per game (1.5). After his record-breaking performance, Josh Dietz is now 24th in solo tackles (6.4). Unable to get on the field to kick a field goal because of the Cobbers' proficiency in the red-zone, Brian Halverson has slid into a tie for 15th in field goals per game (1.0). 

As a team, the Cobber defense has steadily made the climb into the top ten in three different categories. Concordia is ranked fifth in total defense (218.2), sixth in rushing defense (72.8) and sixth in scoring defense (11.1). The Cobbers are also ranked 11th in pass efficiency defense (82.9). Offensively, Concordia is now ranked in two categories. The Cobbers are tied for 33rd in scoring offense (33.5) and 35th in rush offense (223.0) 

Offense and special teams highlight Occidental's national statistical leaders. Quarterback Andy Collins is ranked 16th in passing efficiency (149.2). Running back Ryan Gonzales is tied for 20th in points per game (9.6). On special teams, punter Cory Ohnesorge is 14th in the nation in punt average (39.8) and return specialist Zac Sakowski is fifth in punt return average (17.1). The final Tiger individual among the national leaders is defensive lineman Anthony Ostland. Ostland currently ranks sixth in sacks per game (1.3). 

The only category the Tigers make the charts in as a team is scoring offense. Occidental is ranked 27th with a 35.7 point per game average. 

89th Season of Cobber Football
The 2004 season marks Concordia’s 89th year of intercollegiate football, and the Cobbers hold an all-time record of 433-246-39 …Football was started at Concordia in 1916 by Mr. A. M. Sattre. The first game for the Cobbers was against Valley City Normal. Valley City won that game 12-0…Concordia has won three national championships and won the MIAC on 17 different occasions.

The Last Time:
Cobber Team
Shutout Recorded
By Cobbers: 2004 vs. Menlo, 30-0 
By Opponent: 1998 vs. St. John’s 21-0 
300 Yards Rushing
By Cobbers: 2003 vs. Augsburg College, 517 yards
By Opponent: 2000, St. Thomas, 358 yards
300 Yards Passing
By Cobbers: 2004 vs. Hamline, 362 yards
By Opponent: 2003, Menlo College, 333 yards
500 Total Yards
By Cobbers: 2004 vs. Hamline, 591 yards
By Opponent: 2001, St. Olaf College, 500 yards
50 Points
By Cobbers: 2004 vs. St. Olaf, 50-7
By Opponent: 2000, Bethel College, 60-21
40 Points
By Cobbers: 2004 vs. Hamline, 42-0
By Opponent: 2003, Menlo College, 44-41
Cobber Individual Offense
200 Yards Rushing
By Cobbers: 1995 vs. St. Olaf College, Kyle Odermann, 214 yards
By Opponent: 2001, Gustavus, Andy Traetow, 209 yards
100 Yard Receiving Game
By Cobbers: 2004 vs. St. Olaf, Andrew Passanante, 154 yards
By Opponent: 2003, St. John’s, Blake Elliot, 132 yards
300 Yard Passing Game
By Cobbers: 2003 vs. St. Olaf College, Ryan Hebrink, 304 yards
By Opponent: 2003, Menlo College, Frank Borba, 333 yards
4 Touchdowns Rushing
By Cobbers: 1995 vs. St. Olaf College, Kyle Odermann 
By Opponent: 1998, MSU-Moorhead, Tony Duerr (5)
5 Touchdowns Passing
By Cobbers: 2004 vs. Hamline, Brian Schumacher 
By Opponent: 1998, Gustavus, Bob Southworth 
4 Touchdowns Receiving
By Cobbers: 1987 vs. Hamline, Terry Horan 
By Opponent: ?
Cobber Individual Defense
20 or More Tackles
By Cobbers: 2003 vs. St. John’s, Josh Dietz, 20 
By Opponent: 2003, Bethel, Sam Lacy, 20
5 or More Sacks
By Cobbers: 1999 vs. Hamline, Mark Hankel, 5 
By Opponent: 2000, St. John’s, Brian Zirbes, 6
3 or More Interceptions
By Cobbers: 1994 vs. Hamline, Stu Lang, 3
By Opponent: 2002, St. John’s, Jeremy Goltz, 3
Cobber Individual/Special Teams:
Kickoff Returned for a Touchdown
By Cobbers: 2003, vs. St. Olaf College, Bobby Clark, 85 yards
By Opponent 2004, St. John's, Lee Clintsman, 94 yards
Punt Returned for a Touchdown
By Cobbers: 2002, vs. Hamline, Bobby Clark, 70 yards
By Opponent 1997, Bethel College, Kirk Midthun, 70 yards
Extra Point Blocked
By Cobbers: 2003 vs. Augsburg, Josh Vickerman
By Opponent: 2004, Menlo College
Field Goal Over 40 Yards
By Cobbers: 2003 vs. Carleton College, 40 yards, Brian Halverson
By Opponent: 2003, Bethel College, Paul Tschetter, 52 yards
3 Field Goals
By Cobbers: 2004, vs. MSU-Moorhead, Brian Halverson
By Opponents:  1998, Augsburg College, Martin Hlinka (4) 

Cobbers vs. Tigers News and Notes

Cobber News and Notes
7 Come 11 
Concordia has been on quite a roll in 2004. The Cobbers have now tied a school record for most wins in a season. Only three other times has Concordia won 11 games, and the team has never won 12 games in a year. The 11-game winning streak also ties a record for most consecutive wins. The 1986 Cobber squad lost their first game of the season and then won 11 straight before losing to Augustana in the NCAA semifinals. 

Stop, Cobber Time
The second half has become Cobber time for the Concordia defense. Concordia has outscored their opponents 187-57 in the final 30 minutes of the game.  Last week the Cobbers did not allow a touchdown in the final two quarters for the third straight game. Concordia gave up only 12 yards of offense against the Knights in the third quarter. The Cobbers have only allowed an average of 5.1 pts per game in the third frame. 

Steady Eddy III
Not that the Gameday staff is superstitious, but every time we have spotlighted Ed Oehlers, he has scored a touchdown. Last week Oehlers scored two rushing touchdowns to bring his season total to 12. He needs three more touchdowns to tie the school record for most rushing TD’s in a single season. Mike Jousma holds the record of 15. He set that mark in 1992. Oehlers has now scored a touchdown in the last six games. 

Record Breakers
Concordia had three players break school records last week. Andrew Passanante, Josh Dietz and Brian Schumacher all stamped their mark in Cobber football lore. 

Passanante had the dubious distinction of erasing his coach’s record from the history book. Passanante had 96 receiving yards, which broke Terry Horan’s mark of 1,132 receiving yards by a single yard. Passanante now has 1,133 yards on the year. 

Dietz broke Shayne Lindsay’s record of 69 solo tackles in a season. Dietz had five solo tackles against Wartburg and now has 70 on the year. He has 114 total tackles on the year, and needs 13 more to break Dave Benson’s mark. 

Finally, Schumacher broke the most recent record of the three. Schumacher finished last week's game with 222 total offensive yards. That gives him 2385 for the season and breaks the record set by Ryan Hebrink last season. Hebrink's old mark was 2296. 

Records that Still Need to Be Watched!
- Jordan Talge is in a holding pattern with eight interceptions on the year. That ties him with Todd Twete (’90) for most interceptions in a single season. Twete had eight interceptions in 1989. Talge has 16 career interceptions and needs one more “pick” to tie Terry Storm’s (’87) record of 17. Talge led the MIAC in overall interceptions and passes defended. 

- Josh Dietz, after setting the record for most solo tackles in a season, needs 13 more total tackles to break Dave Benson's 1989 record of 126. 

- Junior kicker Brian Halverson was not helped in his quest for the record for most field goals in a single season last week. He is tied with Chris Reimertz (’91) for the most field goals in a single season. Both kickers knocked home 11 field goals. Reimertz set the mark in 1989 and then again in 1990. 

Halverson led the MIAC in scoring by a kicker (71 pts.), field goals (11), field goal percentage (78.6) and extra point percentage (95.0). He was 4-for-4 in field goals under 30 yards, 6-for-8 from 30 to 39 yards out and 1-for-2 from beyond 40 yards. His longest field goal of the year was a 40-yarder against St. John’s. 

Talge Time
Earlier this week Jordan Talge was named one of the 10 finalists for the Gagliardi Trophy. He becomes to the first Concordia player to be named a finalist since the award first started in 1993. 

The award is presented to the Outstanding Division III football player of the year. The Gagliardi Trophy is the equivalent to the NCAA Division I Heisman Award. 

The announcement of the nomination is another in the long list of awards that Talge has already received this year. On Monday he was named to the MIAC All-Conference First Team. Earlier in the month he was named to the prestigious CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team.

Talge is one of the five senior captains for the Cobbers. He helped Concordia to one of their best seasons ever. The team is currently 11-0 and finished the regular season ranked fourth in the nation. He is one of the leaders of the defense that is ranked in the top ten in the nation in scoring defense and overall defense. 

Talge led the MIAC in interceptions and passes defended. He currently has eight interceptions, 36 solo tackles and 48 total tackles and 17 passes defended. He was named the MIAC Defensive Player of the Week on October 25, and was also named to the Don Hansen’s Football Gazette and’s Team of the Week on October 26. 

The other finalist for the award are: Scott Burnoski, WR, UW-La Crosse; Zac Bruney, QB, Mount Union; David Crowley, WR, Centre; Nick Cushman, WR, Albright; Rocky Meyers, FS, Wesley; Lance Moore, RB, Hardin-Simmons; Brad Musso, WR, Wheaton; Tony Sutton, RB, Wooster; Daniel Swanstrom, QB, Rhodes. 

Cobbers Set School Record for MIAC Ppostseason Honors
A record number of Cobbers were honored by the MIAC this week with All-Conference and Special Awards. Concordia placed a record 17 players on the All-Conference or All-Conference Honorable Mention Teams.

The three major awards handed out by the conference coaches all went to Concordia players. Brian Schumacher was named the conference MVP. Terry Horan won Coach of the Year honors for the second time in four years and offensive tackle Nick Didier was named the Stam Award winner which goes to the top offensive and defensive lineman in the conference. 

Here is a recap of the Cobber All-Conference honorees:
Concordia First Team All-Conference: Nick Didier (offensive line), David Uselman (offensive line), Ed Oehlers (running back), Brian Schumacher (quarterback), Andrew Passanante (wide receiver), Brian Halverson (kicker), Adam Campbell (defensive line), Josh Dietz (linebacker), Jordan Talge (defensive back)

Concordia Second Team All-Conference: Jason Kelly (offensive line), Travis Christensen (running back), Evan Emmerich (defensive line), Doug Runke (linebacker), Tanner Radermacher (defensive back)

Concordia All-Conference Honorable Mention: Travis Almquist (defensive line), Ryan Johnson (offensive line), Shawn Reile (wide receivers) _______________________________________________________________________________
Tiger News and Notes
(Courtesy of the Occidental SID)

Tiger Preview
Occidental handled Willamette 28-14 in last Saturday’s NCAA Division III playoff game at Patterson Field.  Its reward?  A trip to Fargo, North Dakota to take on Concordia-Moorhead, quite possibly the northern-most college football program in the United States.

Saturday’s game is a match-up of two similar teams. Concordia-Moorhead (11-0), currently ranked #4 in the nation by, advanced to the second round with a 28-14 win over Wartburg, its first post-season win since 1986.  Like Occidental, the Cobbers scored a touchdown in each quarter and dominated on defense, allowing just 211 total yards in the game. 

Quarterback Brian Schumacher, MVP of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference this season, directs the Cobbers’ offense and, like Oxy quarterback Andy Collins, is an equal threat to run or pass.  Concordia-Moorhead’s defense has allowed 11.1 points per game this season compared to Occidental’s 17.8 while the Tigers have scored 35.7 points per game to Concordia’s 33.5.

The Cobbers’ top receiver, Andrew Passanante, is a cousin of Occidental kicker Thomas Joraanstad ’07.

 “Concordia-Moorhead combines a passing game with a triple option attack and that’s a very effective combination,” notes veteran head coach Dale Widolff.  “We’re going to need another very strong defensive effort and offensively we can’t afford to let ourselves become unbalanced between the run and the pass.”

Occidental’s last trip to the Midwest came in 1985, the same year the Tigers recorded their last playoff win prior to the triumph over Willamette.

Tiger Recap
(Courtesy of
Andy Collins threw four touchdown passes and the Occidental defense gave up just one score as the Tigers defeated Willamette 28-14 to give the SCIAC its first NCAA playoff victory since 1985.

“I think it’s great not just for us, but for the SCIAC in general,” Occidental receiver Zac Sakowski said. “People think we’re just liberal arts schools with a bunch of smart kids who happen to play football.”

The Tigers, who earned the last SCIAC playoff victory with a home win over St. John’s, will travel to Concordia-Moorhead next week in the second round of the playoffs, skipping the Thanksgiving weekend at home and balmy November days in Southern California.

“It’ll be fun for our kids to see another part of the country,” said Occidental coach Dale Widolff, who was at the helm during the Tigers’ playoff appearances in the 1980s. “It’ll be interesting for them to play in 30-, 40-, 50-degree weather.”

With a blazing sun overhead on Saturday, Collins connected with Sakowski for a 71-yard catch-and-run one minute into the third quarter, and the defense came up with a goal-line stand in the fourth during the Tigers’ 14-0 second half.

“I give a ton of credit to Occidental,” said Willamette coach Mark Speckman, who brought his team south from the powerful Northwest Conference. “I think they played great, especially in the second half. We were just extremely sporadic.”

While the Tigers (10-1) were spreading the field for Collins to throw, Willamette had a hard time getting its touted Fly offense off the ground. Occidental put as many as nine players in the box, daring the Bearcats to pass, especially when starting quarterback Cameron Walton left with a shoulder injury.

Occidental didn’t pass efficiently, but they did make their best plays in the air.

On second-and-9 at the start of the third quarter, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Collins checked out of a run play and zipped a pass to Sakowski in the left flat. Mike Winchell made a key block, and Sakowski broke the safety’s tackle and zoomed down the home sideline for a 21-14 lead with 13:59 to play in the quarter.

Collins said the audible was a halftime adjustment the Tigers wanted to use when the Bearcats’ outside linebackers showed blitz. On the touchdown, he caught them in one.

“That really set the tone of the second half,” he said.

On the second play of the fourth quarter, Willamette’s Michael Plank called for a fair catch on a punt deep into Bearcat territory. He fell to his knees and did not touch the ball, and no one chased it until Occidental downed it on the 15. After a brief delay, the officiating crew, from the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, ruled that it had touched a Bearcat and gave the Tigers a first down.

Three plays later, Collins hit Sakowski on a slant to give Occidental a two-touchdown lead.

Plank, Willamette’s punt returner and backup quarterback, threw a deep play-action pass on the Bearcats’ first play, but that was intercepted by Derek Turbin on the Tigers’ 8-yard line. Occidental followed with a fumble on its first play, and the Bearcats had four chances to cut the gap to one score.

Quentin Brock rumbled for four yards on the first play, and Plank fumbled the exchange on second down. Third down was an incompletion on a slant to Brett Meyer during which he and Turbin were tangled up but no penalty was called.

On fourth down, Occidental’s Norman Williams brought down Plank from behind to end the threat with 12:47 to play.

“Our guard missed a block, and No. 32 made a nice play,” Speckman said. “He kind of knifed through the line.”

Willamette got the ball back but once more, punting with 7:20 left and watching the Tigers run the clock out.

Occidental got on the board first, opening the game with an 11-play, 53-yard drive capped by Collins’ 13-yard TD pass to Josh Jones. Willamette tied the game later in the first quarter when Wesley Randall blocked an Occidental punt and Kevin Dean recovered in the end zone.

Jones hauled in a 38-yard TD pass from Collins six minutes before the half, and the Bearcats struck quickly just before the half, after Meyer caught a 20-yard pass from Walton on third-and-17. It took Willamette just three running plays to go 49 yards after that, but that appeared to be the only time the Fly worked effectively.

“Everyone all week was saying you can’t stop the Fly,” said Sakowski of Willamette’s motion and misdirection-based offense. “For the most part, our defense dominated the game.”

Widolff noted that Occidental had given up just 54 points in the first half all season. Most of the points scored against them had come late in blowouts.

Speckman, who felt his team was fortunate to make the playoff field, was very disappointed in their 10-penalty performance. Willamette (7-4) also had two turnovers, muffed a punt, fumbled exchanges and drew multiple facemask, illegal shift and pass interference calls.

“I don’t think we would’ve gotten here playing like that all year,” said Speckman, whose team played top-10 Mary Hardin-Baylor and Linfield in the regular season. “It’s a recipe for disaster when you don’t score in the red zone, all the calls don’t go your way and you shoot yourself in the foot. … We hurt ourselves, but Occidental hurt us too.”

Though they were banged up by a physical Willamette team, the Tigers won’t have to worry about hurt for at least another week. They earned Division III football in Southern California a little respect, and get another chance to do it next week.

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