Cobbers claim big win but no playoffs
By Jim Stellon
The Forum 11/8/97
MINNEAPOLIS – Concordia’s football season came to an end Friday afternoon at the Metrodome without a share of the league title the Cobbers had hoped for and without any chance for postseason play.

But one would have a hard time convincing the Cobbers, who whipped the Carleton Knights 39-10 in the regular season finale in the Metrodome, that they aren’t the best team in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and worthy of the playoffs.

"We feel right now that we are the best team in the MIAC," said Concordia defensive end Jon Jasken. "Whatever consolation that is."

Freshman runningback Len Crouse ran for a pair of touchdowns and junior wide receiver Mike Rice caught a pair of scoring passes from Ethan Pole to lead the Cobbers past Carleton and to their second-straight convincing win. Last week Concordia crushed Hamline 45-19.

But no matter how good the Cobbers may feel about themselves, it won’t undo a two-game losing streak in the past month which knocked them out of first place. Concordia (8-2 overall, 7-2 MIAC) started MIAC play 5-0 before back-to-back losses to St. John’s and Augsburg.

Augsburg (9-1, 8-1), which edged the Cobbers 13-10 two weeks ago at Augsburg, wrapped up its first MIAC title since 1928 Friday in the Metrodome with a 56-22 win over Bethel.

Concordia’s win over Carleton preceded Augsburg’s win. So for a couple of hours, anyway, the Cobbers had hopes of sharing the MIAC title with Augsburg and the winner of Friday night’s late game between St. Thomas and St. John’s.

Prior to Friday’s results, Augsburg was ranked fourth and the Cobbers sixth in the Division III West Region. The top four teams make the playoffs. Despite their impressive win Friday, it will be virtually impossible for the Cobbers to move up the necessary two spots.

"We played hard to the end," said Pole, a junior who also ran for a touchdown against the Knights. "But we just came up short in a couple of games. We had four straight tough games. Maybe there was a little let down against St. John’s and Augsburg."

Midway through the season, the Cobbers faced four straight MIAC contenders – Bethel, St. Thomas, St. John’s and Augsburg. The Cobbers won the first two games, but struggled offensively while dropping the next two.

"We had come off two big emotional games (Bethel and St. Thomas) and then we play two more tough teams," said Concordia coach Jim Christopherson. "We also lost a little spark when (runningback Dan) Steinbeisser was hurt against St. Thomas and missed the next two games."

For the second straight game, the Cobbers – with Steinbeisser healthy again – thrived offensively. After trailing 3-0 and 10-6 in the first quarter, Concordia scored on four of its final six possessions of the first half and finished with 33 unanswered points.

After an early field goal by Carleton’s James Adducci, Pole and Rice hooked up for a 63-yard strike to give the Cobbers a 6-3 lead. On the ensuing kickoff, however, Carleton’s Dan Reider raced 87 yards down the left sideline to put the Knights back on top 10-6.

After that, it was all Cobbers. Steinbeisser’s three-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter put the Cobbers ahead for good. Crouse’s scoring runs came in the second quarter before Pole found Rice from 12 yards out with 36 seconds to go before halftime to push the Cobbers lead to 33-10.

The Cobbers, whose post-season chances would have been decided by a committee next weekend had they tied for the MIAC tile, felt they needed to blow out the Knights.

"We definately prepared to put some points up and hopefully influence the voters," Rice said. "Those two games we lost weren’t our type of football. We just had to show how we could play."

1997 Cobber Football

Concordia 13 20 0 6 –39

Carleton 10 0 0 0 –10

Carl–Adducci 20 FG

Con–Rice 62 pass from Pole (kick failed)

Carl–Reider 87 kickoff return (Adducci kick)

Con–Steinbeisser 3 run (Horgen kick)

Con–Crouse 1 run (kick failed)

Con–Crouse 7 run (Horgen kick)

Con–Rice 12 pass from Pole (Horgen kick)

Con–Pole 14 run (kick failed)

TEAM STATISTICS

Con Carl

First downs 22 14

Rushes-yards 56-345 35-89

Yards passing 143 208

Total yards 488 297

Passing 10-6-0 34-15-2

Punts-average 6-35.7 5-31.8

Fumbles-lost 1-0 2-1

Penalties-yards 4-30 0-0

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

RUSHING – Con, Steinbeisser 22-147, Crouse 20-127, Pole 7-41, Ludtke 2-13, Marshall 1-5, Aslakson 1-2, Langemo 1-1, Ohm 1-0. Carl, Flanagan 27-89, Gunia 7-12, Shoap 1-(-12).

PASSING – Con, Pole 5-9-0 133 yards, Steinbeisser 1-1-0 10. Carl, Shoap 12-29-1 157, Flanagan 3-4-0 51, Gunia 0-1-1 0.

RECEIVING – Con, Rice 2-74, Howell 2-61, Langemo 1-10, Crouse 1-(-2). Carl, Gorka 7-79, Turpin 4-47, Flanagan 2-14, Vincent 1-43, Kiros 1-25.

1997 Cobber Football