Tom Mix, Published October 06 2012
VIDEO: Penalty as time expires costs Concordia in loss to Bethel
Appearances can be deceiving.
When the game was officially ruled complete, Bethel was celebrating a 15-14 college football win. The jubilation came after Bethel quarterback Erik Peterson connected with receiver Jay Hilbrands for a 9-yard touchdown, then completed a pass to receiver Mitch Hallstrom for the winning 2-point conversion. Those plays followed a costly unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that was assessed against Concordia on what was to be the final play of the game.
The NCAA Division III, No. 7-ranked Royals faced a third-and-10 on Concordia’s 17-yard line with 1.9 seconds. Bethel quarterback Peterson dropped back to pass, but was hurried by Concordia defensive lineman Paul Steich and fumbled the ball.
Before teammate Tim Garry could scoop up the fumble, Concordia players on the sideline had entered the field of play, causing officials to call an unsportsmanlike penalty.
Garry had returned the fumble for a touchdown, but it was nullified after the penalty. Worse yet, the Royals (5-0, 3-0 MIAC) got one more chance at tying the game with an untimed down.
The penalty – the only one Concordia committed the entire game – advanced the ball eight yards to the 9-yard line. Two plays later, the No. 23 Cobbers were left trying to make sense of the deflating loss.
“They said we were on the field celebrating before the recovery was made,” Concordia head coach Terry Horan said. “It was just kind of a whirlwind there. I felt we recovered the fumble and then there was some celebrating. The referees didn’t see it that way and you got to play the football game.”
Hilbrands finished with eight catches for 84 yards. His touchdown capped an 11-play drive that started on the Bethel 29-yard line with 1 minute, 24 seconds left in regulation.
“We have a lot of confidence in our two-minute offense,” Hilbrands said. “My touchdown doesn’t happen without those great plays during the entire drive.”
One of those big plays was when Peterson connected with Hans Duininck for a 14-yard pass on fourth-and-12 on Concordia’s 31.
Peterson finished 16 of 30 passing for 177 yards and an interception. He was 5 of 10 on the final drive.
After Hilbrands’ touchdown, the Royals had to decide: Play it safe and go for the tie, or ride the momentum and go for the win. The Royals opted to risk it all and go for 2.
Bethel head coach Steve Johnson had an idea of what to do in the event he’d be faced with such a call.
“We felt like we had a play we could run in that situation,” Johnson said. “We had run the play we called in practice a few times this year and were confident in it. It is one of those things where it works you look smart, and if it doesn’t, you look stupid.”
Hallstrom said he wasn’t sure what the plan was following the late touchdown, but after Concordia called a timeout, the Royals in turn called upon the 6-foot-2 junior wide receiver.
“Jay got that great touchdown and we ran off the field and we are thinking extra point,” Hallstrom said. “Then Coach P (offensive coordinator Greg Peterson) says, ‘No, get back in there and run this play.’ I’m thinking, ‘Wait a minute. That is going to me. I better catch this.’ ”
Concordia quarterback Griffin Neal was 14 of 19 passing for 173 yards. He connected with Chris Gilson for a 40-yard touchdown with 9:01 left in regulation, which gave the Cobbers a 14-7 lead.
Senior running back Brett Baune rushed for 50 yards on 19 carries for Concordia (4-1, 2-1).
“I thought we came out and executed well,” Neal said. “We could have picked up more first downs to seal the game. It was a tough call at the end of the game, but you just have to live with it.”
C 0 7 0 7–14
B 0 0 7 8–15
C–Baune 1 run (Wagner kick)
B–Phenow 1 run (Van Loon kick)
C–Gilson 40 pass from Neal (Wagner kick)
B–Hilbrands 9 pass from Peterson (Hallstrom pass from Peterson)
First downs 14 16
Rushes-yards 38-103 39-91
Passing 173 177
Comp-Att-Int 14-19-1 16-30-1
Punts-Avg. 6-34.7 7-38.6
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 1-0
Penalties-Yards 1-8 7-60
Time of Possession 29:17 30:43
RUSHING: CON, Baune 19-50, Neal 12-17, Wolf 3-16, M. Peterson 2-10, Starke 1-7, Gotta 1-3. BU, Phenow 22-85, Peterson 13-7, Klitzke 2-4, Waldbillig 1-1, Marquardt 1-(-6).
PASSING: CON, Neal 14-19-1–173. BU, Peterson 16-30-1–177.
RECEIVING: CON, Starke 6-70, Wolf 3-40, Gilson 2-47, M. Peterson 2-6, Whiting 1-10. BU, Hilbrands 8-84, Hallstrom 2-41, Schultz 2-25, Phenow 2-7, Duininck 1-14, Ulstad 1-6.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562