Northwestern Downs No. 14 Concordia (Neb.)
By Matt Bos, Northwestern (Iowa) Sports Information Director
ORANGE CITY, Iowa - Northwestern (Iowa) held off a late rally to defeat #14 Concordia (Neb.) 30-28 in GPAC football played today at DeValois Stadium in Orange City, Iowa. The Red Raiders improved to 3-2 in the GPAC, 4-2 overall, while also handing Concordia its first loss of the season, 4-1 in the GPAC, 6-1 overall.
Down 22-16 early in the fourth quarter, Northwestern surged ahead for good with a pair of touchdowns in the final frame. Jessie Riley scored on a career-long 69-yard run on the Red Raiders first play after Concordia scored to take a 23-22 lead. The Raider D then forced a Bulldogs punt and its offense took advantage, marching 82-yards on nine plays and scoring off a six-yard run by Paul Hutson for a 30-22 lead.
Concordia answered right back with a scoring drive of its own, going 57-yards on six plays, capped by a Bryce Collins one-yard run to make it a two-point game (30-28) with 1:59 left to go. The Bulldogs went for two but the Von Thomas pass was ruled incomplete. Northwestern got the ball back after a penalty on the Concordia onside kick attempt and called three straight run plays to force the Bulldogs to use all three timeouts. The Red Raiders punted the ball away to the Concordia 16-yard line but the Bulldogs, after a couple of first downs, had the ball in Northwestern territory. The Raider D came up with the final big play of the game as Sam Van Ginkel sacked Thomas for a big loss and time ran out.
Northwestern totaled 400 yards of offense against the NAIA's top-ranked defense, led by a rushing attack that went for 228 yards and averaged 5.7 yards per carry. Riley rushed for a career-high 116 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown while Hutson recorded his second straight 100-yard game with 27 carries for 115 yards, scoring the first two touchdowns of his collegiate career. Davis Bloemendaal completed 16-of-28 passes for 172 yards and a score, throwing a 23-yard touchdown pass to Jacey Hoegh in the first quarter. Ben Green caught five passes for 52 yards and Hoegh had four catches for 48 yards and a touchdown.
The Red Raiders got off to a fast start against 14th-ranked Concordia, scoring on its first two possessions while also not giving up a first down on defense. Hutson scored on a two-yard run on his team's opening series, capping a nine-play, 62-yard drive, to take a 6-0 lead. Northwestern then took advantage of great field position on its next drive, set up by a 36-yard punt return by Green, scoring on its first play when Bloemendaal connected with Hoegh for a 23-yard touchdown to take a 13-0 lead with nine minutes left to go in the first quarter.
Concordia came back with a pair late touchdowns late in the second quarter to take a 14-13 lead at the break. Collins scored on a two-yard run with under two minutes left and, following a Northwestern turnover, Thomas threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Chavarious Curry-Felix just before the half to take its first lead.
Northwestern scored the only points of the third quarter on a 20-yard field goal by Julian Dittmann to give the Red Raiders a 16-14 lead. Collins put Concordia back in front (22-16) with a four-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, setting up the Northwestern rally over the final 10 minutes.
The Raider D was led by Greg Hegstad with a career-high 12.5 tackles and one forced fumble. Isaiah Twitty recorded nine tackles while Mitchell Janssen had five tackles and 2.5 sacks. Northwestern totaled four sacks while its offensive line did not give up a sack to the Bulldogs defense.
Concordia accounted for 360 total yards of offense, led by Collins with 28 carries for 110 yards and three scores. Thomas completed 20-of-34 pass attempts for 220 yards and a touchdown.
Northwestern will head to Sioux Center, Iowa, to play Dordt on Oct. 26.