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Kevin Schnepf, Published September 22 2012

Schnepf: "Nightmare on Eighth Street" finally put to rest with victory

Moorhead - The “Nightmare on Eighth Street,” playing like a never-ending series of horror flicks for Concordia’s football team, finally had a happy ending Saturday.

For the first time in 26 years, Concordia claimed a home win at Jake Christiansen Stadium over rival St. John’s. Unlike the recent heart-stopping endings that have occurred on the west end of the field near Eighth Street, this game wasn’t even close, although you would have had a hard time convincing snake-bitten Cobbers fans of that.

But when the scoreboard clock ticked down to zero, most of the 6,000 fans could finally relax.

Cobbers 31, Johnnies 21.

“This was no monkey on the back, it was an orangutan, and he was getting pretty heavy,” said Concordia head coach Terry Horan, who was a 20-year-old sophomore wide receiver for the Cobbers the last time they beat St. John’s on this field in 1986.

“It is really amazing it has lasted that long. That’s a long time ago.”

How long ago was 1986, you ask?

It was so long ago, none of the Cobbers football players were born yet. That was the year Olympic gold-medal sprinter Usain Bolt and Hollywood bad girl Lindsey Lohan were born.

It was so long ago that Bill Buckner let a ground ball dribble through his legs, extending the Boston Red Sox century-long jinx of being unable to win a World Series.

Unable to win at home against St. John’s has had Concordia fans acting just like those 1986 Red Sox fans. If anything bad can happen, it will.

Even a 24-7 halftime lead couldn’t put Cobbers fans at ease. When it was jokingly suggested at halftime that this game was over, one Cobbers fan quickly retorted: “Don’t say that!” … as if such thinking would certainly extend this jinx.

Paranoia is certainly understandable considering what has happened to the Cobbers in three of their home losses to the Johnnies since 2005.

Last year, Concordia’s Brett Baune was stopped short of the goal line by the nose of a football on the last play of a 28-21 overtime loss. In 2006, Concordia was stopped less than two yards short of the end zone in a 14-12 loss.

Perhaps the most memorable nightmare occurred in 2005 when St. John’s scored on a 73-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds remaining to give St. John’s a stunning 20-16 win.

“And all of those endings happened on the west end of the field,” said Concordia sports information director Jim Cella, who gets credit for labeling this home jinx “The Nightmare on Eighth Street.”

As is often the case when never-ending curses come to an end, there was a bit of irony Saturday when Mark Whiting hauled in a 15-yard touchdown pass to give Concordia its 24-7 lead 22 seconds before halftime.

Whiting, a junior from Alexandria, Minn., dates the sister of Kyle Gearman, who is the St. John’s receiver who hauled in that game-winning 73-yard TD pass in 2005.

“I told Mark (Whiting) after the game, ‘f there was Ianyone who was going to make a play to end this thing, it would be only fitting that you would do it,’ ” Horan said. “That was a big play.”

Big enough to put Concordia fans at ease with a 31-7 lead late in the third quarter? Hardly, especially when St. John’s scored two touchdowns in the final five minutes to cut the Cobbers lead to 10 points.

But when freshman Jon Baune recovered St. John’s final onside kick with less than two minutes remaining, Cobber fans finally realized that the “Nightmare on Eighth Street” was indeed over.

Readers can reach Forum Sports Editor Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549

or at kschnepf@forumcomm.com