Concordia erased a 20-10 deficit in the fourth quarter against Dickinson State on Saturday only to watch the Bluehawks connect on a tipped pass reception for 58 yards that proved to be the winning score in a 29-24 battle in the Cobbers season opener.
Cobber quarterback Michael Dunham thought he had engineered his own version of "the drive" after he marched Concordia 80 yards in 11 plays to grab a 24-23 lead with 1:01 left to play. Unfortunately Dickinson State was able to score on the very next possession to earn the five-point victory. After the Cobber defense broke up three straight passing attempts on the Blue Hawks' final drive, Dickinson State quarterback Cody Holland threw into triple coverage on 4th and 10 only to have the ball get tipped by the intended receiver and fall into the hands of Derion Williams who was standing outside the four players. Williams caught the ball and then raced into the end zone with :29 to play to give Dickinson the win.
Dunham didn't go down quietly in the final :29. He was able to connect on three passes and move the ball to the Dickinson 32-yard line. Dunham then threw two passes into the end zone but the first was knocked down and the final play of the pass was picked off.
Dickinson State outgained the Cobbers 383-356 in total yardage. While the Blue Hawks were sparked by five plays that went for over 20 yards, Concordia clicked off yardage by rushing and quick, timing passes. CC did not have a play over 20 yards in the game.
Dunham was the games offensive player. He was 27-for-39 for 238 passing yards and also rushed for 55 yards on the ground. Dunham's favorite target for the opener was junior Bronson Shepherd who caught 10 passes for 80 yards. He had one of the two receiving touchdowns on the day. Sophomore Mike Starke made a terrific catch for the team's first TD of the year when he hauled in a 19-yard strike from Dunham in the second quarter. Nic Johnson rushed 11 times for 38 yards and scored CC's go-ahead TD with 1:01 left in the fourth quarter.
Dickinson State quarterback Cody Holland was 11-for-22 for 248 yards on the day. Of his 11 completions, three went to the house for six points. Jeremy Herr was the game's top ground gainer. He ran the ball 15 times for 66 yards.
Sophomore linebacker Matt Moenkedick led Concordia with 10 tackles and had one quarterback hurry. Zach Debeltz had seven tackles and picked off a pass and recovered one fumble as the CC defense forced two turnovers in the game. Reed Hefta had a pair of sacks in the game and helped a defensive line pressure Holland in the final quarter of play.
Sean Russell had a game-high 12 tackles and made the interception in the end zone as time expired to lead the Blue Hawks defense.
Concordia will host their first game on the newly renovated turf at Jake Christiansen Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 11 when they square off against Valley City State at 1 p.m.