Cobbers celebrate history, but revel in moment

More news about: Concordia-Moorhead
Chad Johnson
Chad Johnson is the focal point in the Concordia-Moorhead backfield and recently surpassed the program career record for touchdowns previously held by the Cobbers' coach, Terry Moran.
Concordia-Moorhead athletics photo by Sheldon Green

By Josh Smith

Concordia-Moorhead is commemorating the football program’s history this year. And, as the team plays its 100th season, there is plenty of success to look back on.

The Cobbers won the NAIA national championship in 1964 and claimed NAIA Division II national titles in both 1978 and 1981 to go along with 18 MIAC championships.

“We just finished homecoming weekend here, where we had a lot of our alums back,” said coach Terry Horan following the team’s 27-17 victory over Gustavus Adolphus. “But all year, we’re celebrating it because we have quite the tradition here.”

However, Concordia-Moorhead won’t be spending the entire season looking back. The Cobbers’ eyes are trained on big goals ahead of them as they hope to break through and win the program’s first MIAC title since 2004.

The team believes its strong chemistry and potent backfield can help them achieve that goal.

“You can definitely see it on the field this year more than we ever have,” senior running back Chad Johnson said of the team’s chemistry. “We just play off each other, and off the field we’re really close to each other.”

Johnson is a key part of Concordia-Moorhead’s success, serving as fullback in the team’s option attack. He has rushed for 100-plus yards in each of the last six games, dating to 2016, and he has scored at least two touchdowns in each game this season, propelling the Cobbers to a 4-0 start.

“Probably my vision is my best quality. With our offense, we have to hit one hole or the other. So you have to have good vision, especially at fullback running inside,” said Johnson, who ran for 114 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries against Gustavus.

With his two scores on Saturday, Johnson tied the program record of 34 career touchdowns held by Brett Baune (2009-12) and surpassed Horan’s mark of 33 TDs.

“He’s very athletic, has great eyes, great feet, and he’s physical and has great speed. He’s got all those little intangibles,” Horan said. “His instincts really set him apart from others. He really has a knack for finding open seams, and he can run.”

If it isn’t evident from the statistics, Johnson has flourished in the fullback position. However, he had to learn the position after joining the program as a slot back. He said he lifted and put on weight between his freshman and sophomore seasons to prepare himself for the workload required of the fullback.

According to Johnson, his ability coupled with Jason Montonye’s speed and quarterback Michael Herzog’s physicality gives Concordia’s triple option multiple ways to gash defenses.

“We’ve got the right guys at the right positions this year. I can run it, or our slot backs have the speed to run it on the inside. We have that triple threat that comes with the triple option,” Johnson said. “It’s an old-style offense, but we have the right personnel to make it work.”

Johnson has become a bigger threat himself, improving his patience while his blockers get into position.

“When I got moved to fullback, I was kind of an impatient guy. I just wanted to get to the line and go. I learned with our offense, you have to let things set up and find the hole,” Johnson said.

The Cobbers have been consistent in the MIAC, but have found themselves on the outside, looking in come playoff time, recently.

The team finished 7-3 the last two seasons, after posting three straight 8-2 campaigns from 2012 to 2014.

“In the last few years, it’s been one or two plays that have done us in,” Horan said.

Last season, Concordia-Moorhead scored on a long hook-and-ladder play to take a late lead over St. Thomas. But after failing to convert the 2-point conversion and drawing a penalty that set St. Thomas up with a short field, the Cobbers gave up a touchdown with a second remaining.

This year has been different, so far. The Cobbers had a goal line stand on fourth down to defeat UW-Whitewater, and they haven’t panicked when trailing in their first two MIAC games.

“We’re finding ways to make those plays this year, and in our league, that’s the difference,” Horan said.

Now, Concordia-Moorhead is focused on erasing the memory of last year’s game versus St. Thomas as they prep for a first-place game in St. Paul.

“They’re crazy athletic and they’ve got great size,” Horan said of the Tommies. “We know we need to play pretty flawless football to have an opportunity in that one.”

“We feel pretty good, but they’re a tough football team,” Johnson added. “We have to really focus in this week during practice.”

While it will take a complete effort to win Saturday and take control of the MIAC race, the Cobbers know a victory would be another great memory in the program’s 100-year history.

“Part of scheduling the non-conference the way we did was for that very reason of seeing physical-style teams like St. Thomas and St. John’s,” Horan said. “We know each and every week within our league, it’s a 60-minute football game.”

Top-10 West matchups

Duke Mackle and Jake Reimer each returned interceptions for touchdowns to help Linfield take down Northwest Conference rival Whitworth, 38-9.

The Wildcats intercepted three passes, recovered two fumbles and registered three sacks on the day. Jason Farlow led the way with 13 total tackles, including two for a loss.

On offense, J.D. Lasswell caught three passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns.

In WIAC play, Jack Eddy threw his third touchdown pass of the game with 7:18 to play, guiding No. 12 UW-Platteville to a comeback win over No. 22 UW-Stout, 34-27.

Eddy finished the game 23-of-36 for 245 yards while the Pioneer defense intercepted three passes and recovered a fumble.

Lewis & Clark win back-to-back

Lewis & Clark beat visiting Willamette, 24-21, as Obed Eriza kicked a 33-yard field goal as time expired.

The victory marks the first time the Pioneers have won back-to-back games since 2012, which is also the same year they last won a home game and were above .500.

It is also Lewis & Clark’s first time winning the Wagon Wheel traveling trophy since 2000.

Number of the week

6 – as in the number of touchdowns scored by Eureka’s LeAnthony Reasnover on Saturday. The running back carried the ball 26 times and racked up 179 yards to carry the Red Devils to a 49-18 win at Iowa Wesleyan. Reasnover’s six-TD game helped Eureka improve to 3-2 on the season and 3-1 in UMAC play.

The rest of the West

Sam Mentkowski hauled in 10 receptions for 207 yards, including touchdown catches of 96 and 53 yards, to help UW-Oshkosh fend off a comeback attempt by UW-Whitewater. The Titans won the game, 37-20. … Charles Riga returned a punt 94 yards for a touchdown with no time remaining in the first half, capping a 21-point second quarter and propelling George Fox to a 27-7 win over Pacific. … Tyler Olson helped the Central defense turn Simpson away at the goal line twice, and then the Dutch marched 99-yards in 14-plays to swing the momentum en route to a 35-17 win. … St. Scholastica’s Zach Edwards found Jeff LeMay in the end zone with 2:41 left to play to break a 7-7 tie. Edwards threw two TDs to help the Saints overcome three turnovers and topple Northwestern (Minn.), 14-7. … La Verne erased a 13-point deficit early in the fourth quarter with Torii Hilbert’s pick-six and Michael Medina’s 9-yard touchdown run to top Cal Lutheran, 28-27. … UW-River Falls held UW-Eau Claire to two firsts on 12 third down attempts and went on to win, 30-7. On offense, Michael Diggins carried the ball 28 times, gaining 158 yards and scoring twice. … Matt Sacia fired four touchdown passes while racking up 360 yards in Wartburg’s 34-7 win over Coe. Griffin Brennecke and Riley Brockway combined for 14 catches and three touchdowns. … St. John’s held off Bethel, 21-13, as Evan Clark caught six passes for 134 yards, including a pair of first quarter touchdowns. … Pac Lutheran’s Carson Ketter returned a fumble 100 yards for a touchdown to along with 11 tackles as the Lutes topped Puget Sound, 23-13. … Redlands racked up 667 total yards of offense, averaging 8.6 yards per play in a 72-13 win at Occidental. Nathan Martinez had 92 yards rushing and three touchdowns on just seven carries. … Minnesota-Morris picked up win No. 1 for co-head coaches Marty Hoffman and Matthew Johnson, defeating Crown, 17-7. Justin Masloski passed for 145 yards and ran for 144 yards and score to pace the Cougars. … UW-La Crosse’s Tarek Yaeggi threw for 199 yards and three touchdowns and chipped in a game-high 74 rushing yards as the Eagles bested UW-Stevens Point, 35-13. … Hamline quarterback Justice Spriggs completed 19-of-32 passes for 287 yards and four touchdowns and led the team with 81 yards rushing as the Pipers took down Carleton, 30-19. … Chapman’s Joe Mudie carried the ball 21 times for 104 yards and the game-winning touchdown as the final seconds ticked away in the fourth quarter. Mudie’s score gave the Panthers a 42-40 victory at Pomona-Pitzer. … Ian Kuykendall rushed for 178 yards and two touchdowns in addition to throwing for 172 yards and a score to power Luther past Buena Vista, 36-14. … Trent White passed for 162 yards, firing two touchdowns each to Matt Quarles and Lucas Robinson, as Westminster (Mo.) cruised past Martin Luther, 54-6. … Ike Cloward scored four touchdowns and Cody Mighell chipped in two. The duo also combined for 129 yards rushing, leading Loras in 49-42 shootout at Nebraska Wesleyan. … Tucker Trettel, Jordan Roberts and Jacques Perra rushed for two touchdowns apiece as St. Thomas rolled to a 57-25 win at Augsburg. Perra added 247 yards and a touchdown through the air. … Claremont-Mudd-Scripps weathered Whittier’s comeback bid, winning 41-34. Spencer Sheff scored three rushing touchdowns while Garrett Cheadle added 145 rushing yards and a score for the Stags. … Demetrius Curry caught eight passes for 132 yards and a score to lead MacMurray over Greenville, 19-6.

Rank ’em

Eight teams from the West Region were ranked in the Week 5 Top 25 poll, including five teams in the top-10.

UW-Oshkosh remained ranked No. 3. St. Thomas, Linfield and St. John’s all moved up one position to Nos. 6, 7 and 8 respectively. UW-Platteville made the biggest jump, rising three spots to No. 9.

Concordia-Moorhead climbed one spot to No. 20. Whitworth tumbled eight places to No. 22, and UW-Stout fell one spot to No. 23.

Wartburg (33), George Fox (20), Redlands (12), UW-La Crosse (8) and UW-Whitewater (1) received votes in this week’s Top 25.

Be heard

Do you have a story idea for the Around the West column? Contact me about approaching milestones, broken records, breakout players or any other storylines in the Region. Or just drop me a note to let me know what you think of the column. All ideas and feedback are welcome. Email me at josh.smith@d3sports.com or follow me on Twitter @By_Josh_Smith.

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Josh Smith has covered Division III sports for more than five years. He writes for multiple publications, including D3football.com beginning in 2012. He has won multiple awards for reporting and photography and lives in southern Wisconsin near UW-Whitewater, where he graduated with a degree in print journalism.

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