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Eric Peterson, Published November 11 2012

Cobbers miss Division III football playoff field

MOORHEAD – Concordia football players officially found out their season ended in a classroom Sunday night on campus.

That’s when Cobbers head coach Terry Horan told his team it hadn’t earned at at-large bid to the NCAA Division III playoffs.

“The hardest thing for me was meeting with our team,” Horan said. “You could hear a pin drop in there. That’s probably where my heart aches the most.”

Concordia finished with an 8-2 record after closing the regular season with a 29-10 victory at Gustavus on Saturday. The Cobbers finished tied for second place in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with Bethel. Bethel (8-2) earned one of the true seven at-large bids into the 32-team field.

Bethel and league champion St. Thomas were the two MIAC teams that made the playoffs.

“To be so close, you feel for your seniors that have put their pads on for the last time,” Horan said.

Bethel beat Concordia in the regular season, a 15-14 victory in Arden Hills, Minn., that had an improbable finish.

“It was a tough loss that we were handed, but that’s the way it is,” Cobbers senior fullback Brett Baune said.

Concordia had a 14-7 lead in that game and recovered a fumble as time expired in the fourth quarter. The Cobbers appeared to have the victory at that point. Concordia, however, had players leave the bench area and come onto the playing field during the play. The officials called an unsportsmanlike penalty on the Cobbers. Bethel scored a touchdown on the ensuing untimed down and added a two-point conversion for a 15-14 victory.

“When it happened, you kind of hope and pray that is not what keeps you out, but that’s what happened,” Horan said. “It’s not easy for the committee because there are others like us sitting outside, too.”

Baune had a strong finish to his college career, rushing for 77 yards and three touchdowns in the regular-season finale against Gustavus. Baune finished his career with 34 touchdowns to set a school record. Horan, who played wide receiver for the Cobbers in the 1980s, had the old mark with 33.

“That’s an entire team effort for the three years that I started,” Baune said.

“We ended on a great note; 8-2 is nothing to look down on,” Horan said. “That is a great accomplishment. I’m proud of our seniors.”

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Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com