Eric Peterson, Published September 22 2012
Cobbers end 26-year home jinx with win over St. John's
Kenyon O’Brien forced a fumble, which Peter Hvidston recovered. One play later, quarterback Griffin Neal fired a 15-yard touchdown pass to Mark Whiting.
That series of plays – which gave the Cobbers a 17-point halftime lead – helped vault Concordia to a 31-21 victory against St. John’s in Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference football at Jake Christiansen
“It sprung us and I think it kind of shot them down and ended that game,” said Neal, a sophomore who made his first start against the Johnnies.
The win was Concordia’s first against St. John’s at Jake Christiansen since 1986. The Cobbers hadn’t beaten the Johnnies by a double-digit margin since 1988. St. John’s had won 14 of the previous 16 meetings prior to Saturday.
“It’s huge to get this win, and it feels awesome to do it in this fashion,” said Hvidston, a senior linebacker who also added an interception. “They’ve had our number.”
Concordia (4-0, 2-0 MIAC) used a powerful ground game and an opportunistic defense to put away the Johnnies. The Cobbers had nearly a 2-to-1 edge in time of possession and forced five turnovers.
Senior fullback Brett Baune rushed for 126 yards and two touchdowns on 32 attempts to fuel the Concordia offense. Baune’s 6-yard TD run with 5 minutes, 29 seconds to play in the third quarter gave the Cobber a 31-7 lead.
“They’re a tough, physical team and their fullback is as good as anyone around,” said St. John’s defensive coordinator Jerry Haugen. “They can eat some time off the clock. … They played better than we did.”
Concordia looked like it would go into halftime with a 17-7 lead after punting the ball to St. John’s with about a minute to play in the second quarter. The Johnnies started the ensuing drive at their own 10-yard line. On the second play of that drive, junior quarterback Connor Bruns completed a pass to tight end Taylor Freetly, who secured the ball briefly.
O’Brien, a senior defensive back, hit Freetly right after the catch and jarred the ball loose. Hvidston scooped up the fumble and returned it 14 yards to the 15.
“I didn’t even know it was a fumble until I heard the sidelines screaming,” Hvidston said. “So I just figured I would grab it and try to get to the end zone.”
On the next play, Whiting – a 6-foot-5 junior wide receiver – made a tough catch between St. John’s defenders in the end zone. That TD grab gave the Cobbers a 24-7 lead with 22 seconds to play in the half.
“That was huge,” said Concordia defensive coordinator Kyle Bakken. “It was a big momentum swing for us. To get that right before half, that just built our confidence.”
Concordia held St. John’s to 155 yards and 10 first downs through three quarters. The Johnnies finished with 370 yards after racking up 215 yards in the final 15 minutes.
St. John’s scored two TDs in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter. Bruns left the game late in the third quarter with a shoulder injury.
“I don’t know if we’ve ever played that well for three quarters against a St. John’s team,” Bakken said.
The fourth quarter was the only beef Baune had with his team’s performance.
“I wish we would have finished better,” Baune said. “It feels amazing to beat them … but I know we could have played better in the fourth. That’s the kind of attitude we need on this team.”
St. John’s 7 0 0 14–21
Concordia 7 17 7 0–31
CC–Gilson 1 run (Wagner kick)
SJU–Moynihan 13 pass from Bruns (Mattson kick)
CC–Wagner 19 FG
CC–Baune 1 run (Wagner kick)
CC–Whiting 15 pass from Neal (Wagner kick)
CC–Baune 6 run (Wagner kick)
SJU–Forster 20 pass from Martin (Mattson kick)
SJU–Bungum 3 pass from Martin (Mattson kick)
First downs 19 20
Rushes-yards 22-26 62-251
Passing 344 96
Comp-Att-Int 23-43-3 7-13-2
Punts-Avg. 4-38.8 6-31.0
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 1-0
Penalties-Yards 3-30 5-66
Time of Possession 20:43 39:17
RUSHING: SJU, Johnson 10-26, Martin 2-17, Gregg 1-7, Bruns 5-5, Schneider 2-2, Hendricks 1-1, Ries 2-(minus-25). CC, Baune 32-126, Peterson 6-99, Gotta 5-10, Gilson 5-9, Southwick 2-6, Neal11-1, Team 1-0.
PASSING: SJU, Bruns 12-24-2 132 yards, Ries 5-11-1 59, Martin 6-8-0 153. CC, Neal 7-13-2 96.
RECEIVING: SJU, Freetly 7-90, Forster 5-144, Johnson 5-39, Voshell 3-25, Bungum 2-33, Moynihan 1-13. CC, Whiting 3-37, Gilson 2-29, Starke 1-18, Wolf 1-12.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.
Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com