Sept. 7, 2019 - The Concordia-Chicago football team made sure that the first game of the Jason Aubry era is one that the coach and his staff will remember fondly. The Cougars came out with a dominant start, and a record-setting performance by senior running back Lance Moise made for a rousing 44-6 win over Beloit College.
A comfortable but overcast early evening at Strong Stadium in southern Wisconsin was the setting as the new season got underway. Concordia-Chicago won the toss and started at their own 45, thanks to a big kickoff return by Corey Dooley. Moise's first carry of the year was an 11-yarder on a third-and-10. Later, a 13-yard run by Semaj James and a 20-yard completion from Jaxon Aubry to Moise took the ball to the two-yard line, from where Moise powered it in for the Cougars' first points. Andrew Lechuga's extra point gave CUC a 7-0 lead just 1:56 into the game.
On Beloit's second possession, a one-on-one tackle by Tyler Creamer stopped the Bucs two yards of a first down. After Beloit punted, CUC took over at the 33. A run by Moise got the Cougars into Bucs' territory, and they kept rolling to the seven. Moise then took a handoff and found room up the middle, hurdling a tackler into the end zone. The visitors stretched their lead to 14-0 with three minutes left in the quarter.
On Beloit's first play of the ensuing drive, Creamer made a second big defensive play as he accounted for the Cougars' first takeaway of the season. Creamer's interception and 22-yard return gave the Cougars possession at the 13. Two plays later, Moise made it a first-quarter hat trick with a five-yard run to the right side and a 21-0 lead at the 2:08 mark.
The Cougars' wave of momentum threatened to become a tsunami as the Bucs were pushed back by a misconduct penalty. Matt Henning then read the next pass and stepped in front of the receiver for an interception. Concordia-Chicago cashed that in seconds later on Moise's fourth touchdown of the quarter, a three-yard run. The senior back would finished the quarter with 98 yards on 14 carries as the team held a 28-0 lead.
In the second quarter, CUC started at their own 30, and it was James that would get things rolling with a 13-yard run, followed by receptions of 11 and 15 yards. The drive would stall at the 11, but Lechuga was on target with CUC's first field goal attempt, a 28-yarder for a 31-point lead.
Beloit was able to get something going before the half, eating up seven minutes on a drive that began at their own 32. The Bucs got as far as the Cougars' nine but missed on a 26-yard field goal attempt, and CUC went to the locker room with a 31-0 lead.
Total offense in the first half saw CUC accumulate 225 to Beloit's 120. Moise rushed 16 time for 117 yards, while Aubry was 8-11 passing for 74 yards. The Cougars' defense was led by Tyler Dudley with seven tackles (five solo).
The Cougars picked up where they left off to start the second half. After a Beloit three-and-out, CUC started at their own 38. a pass to James took the ball to the 50, and completions to Eric Hoff were good for gains of 16 and 19 yards. The Cougars moved to the three, and it was Moise time once again. His three-yard touchdown gave him another CUC record, the first ever to score five rushing touchdowns in a game.
It did not take long for Moise to make it six. although this would be the Cougars' longest drive of the night in terms of plays (12) and yards (83). Moise ran for 23 yards on the first play, his longest run of the game. His nine-yard run to cap the drive would be his longest scoring run.
As the third quarter rolled into the fourth, Beloit made their second trip inside the CUC red zone. They would get to the six before Adam Hernandez broke up a pass on fourth down. However, the Bucs got the ball back moments later on a fumble and cashed it in two plays later, Alex Alvarez hitting Juan Reyes from 19 yards out. The extra point was no good, leaving the score CUC 44, Beloit 6 with 10:31 remaining. That would be the end of the scoring, with the rest of the evening given over to the reserves and a chance to gain valuable experience.
Moise sat out the fourth quarter, along with most of the starters, but still finished with 169 yards on 23 carries. His career total is now at 3,582 yards, and he now has less than 400 yards to go in becoming CUC's all-time career leader.
The passing game was effective, with Aubry throwing for 140 yards on 14 of 19. James was the leading receiver with six catches for 56 yards, and the versatile back added three carries for 36 yards. The Cougars outgained the Bucs 397-257 despite a six-minute disadvantage in time of possession.
Coach Aubry talked earlier in the week about the team finding its identity in these early games. "I think a word that comes to mind about tonight is efficiency. I was very pleased that we went 7-7 in the red zone. I thought Jaxon did a very good job managing the offense, and we have so many weapons on the outside...and Lance, what can you say about him...he's so hard to bring down. His incredible balance, his strength, his explosiveness...he's everything you would want in a running back." Aubry also lauded the defense on their "stepping up and making plays. Getting the two turnovers after our offense had just scored, that's how we like to see the two sides of the ball complement each other."
Defensively, Dudley led the way with 10 tackles, seven solo. Fellow linebacker Henning had an impactful evening with six tackles (four solo), a quarterback sack for 14 yards, a forced fumble and the interception.
The Cougars will open the home season next Saturday, Sept. 14 when they take on Olivet College of Michigan. Kickoff at Concordia Stadium is scheduled for 1 p.m.