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Eric Peterson, Published October 12 2013

Fast start sparks No. 5 Bethel past No. 22 Cobbers

MOORHEAD – Griffin Neal used words like “terrible” and “awful” to describe how the game started for Concordia on Saturday.

The Cobbers turned the ball over on their first two drives as Bethel exploded for three touchdowns in the first quarter.

That strong start vaulted the No. 5-ranked Royals to a 45-22 victory against No. 22 Concordia in Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference football at Jake Christiansen Stadium.

“Not Cobber football,” said Neal, who is a junior starting quarterback and Fargo South graduate.

The Cobbers (4-1, 2-1 MIAC) finished with seven turnovers, including five lost fumbles. In contrast, Bethel (5-0, 3-0) didn’t turn the ball over once on a rain-slicked day.

“I’ve seen two and three here and there, but (seven), that’s not us,” Cobbers head coach Terry Horan said of the turnovers.

Bethel took over sole possession of first place in the MIAC. The Royals are the lone unbeaten team remaining in the conference.

“We were flying to the ball, and we were getting after balls and that was one of the goals this week,” said Bethel senior linebacker Seth Mathis, who had a game-high 14 tackles and added an interception.

Concordia fumbled on the third play of its first drive. On a third-and-2 play, fullback Domenic Fraboni was popped running into the middle of the line. Royals sophomore Landon Mathis covered the loose ball at the Concordia 32-yard line.

Three plays later, junior running back Brandon Marquardt scored on a 6-yard TD run to give the Royals a 14-0 lead with 6 minutes, 18 seconds to play in the first quarter.

On their second drive, the Cobbers drove into Bethel territory. However, Royals cornerback Mark Torppey intercepted Neal at the Bethel 23.

Three plays later, the Royals again found the end zone. On a third-and-8 play, Bethel quarterback Erik Peterson tossed a 75-yard touchdown to wide receiver Mitch Hallstrom. That long scoring strike staked the Royals to a 21-0 lead with 3:14 remaining in the first quarter.

Peterson added an 11-yard TD run that gave Bethel a 28-0 lead with 2:14 to play in the first half.

“There wasn’t a whole lot more we could have asked for,” Seth Mathis said. “We were scoring points. They were turning the ball over. … It seemed like every other time they touched the ball in the first half, they were putting the ball on the ground.”

The Cobbers cut the Bethel lead to 28-7 with three seconds to play in the first half. Neal threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Brandon Zylstra.

Concordia gained 202 yards in the first half, but the turnovers proved too much to overcome.

“They’re a good football team. They earned a lot,” Horan said of Bethel. “It’s just that we’ve got to hang on to the football.”

The Cobbers fumbled the second-half kickoff, which led to a Bethel 22-yard field goal and a 31-7 lead with 11:20 to play in the third quarter. The Cobbers had four of their turnovers in the second half.

“We’re going to watch the film and then we’re going to try to forget about this game,” said Neal, who passed for 212 yards and rushed for 93 yards. “I still hope the team uses it as motivation for the upcoming weeks.”

The Cobbers play at Hamline next Saturday, while Bethel hosts St. Thomas.

“We know the MIAC is so wide open this year, and that’s really what we need to take advantage of, and keep our heads up because we know anything can happen between now and the end of the season,” Neal said.

Bethel 21 7 3 14–45

Concordia 0 7 7 8–22

BU–Phenow 1 run (O’Reilly kick)

BU–Marquardt 6 run (O’Reilly kick)

BU–Hallstrom 75 pass from Peterson (O’Reilly kick)

BU–Peterson 11 run (O’Reilly kick)

CC–Zylstra 11 pass from Neal (Wagner kick)

BU–O’Reilly 22 FG

CC–Neal 1 run (Wagner kick)

BU–Phenow 2 run (O’Reilly kick)

CC–Peterson 14 pass from Neal (Neal run)

BU–Klitzke 5 run (O’Reilly kick)

TEAM STATISTICS BU CC

First downs 27 23

Rushes-yards 47-224 36-154

Passing 299 212

Comp-Att-Int 18-28-0 22-28-2

Punts-Avg. 4-41.0 2-45.5

Fumbles-Lost 0-0 5-5

Penalties-Yards 10-98 5-47

Time of possession 30:28 26:20

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: BU, Marquardt 16-117, Klitzke 16-94, Phenow 6-10, Peterson 8-5, Team 1-(-2). CC, Neal 23-93, McLean 6-40, Gauldin 1-10, Peterson 3-6, Fraboni 3-5.

PASSING: BU, Peterson 18-27-0 299 yards, Klitzke 0-1-0 0. CC, Neal 22-27-2 212 yards, Team 0-1-0 0.

RECEIVING: BU, Hallstrom 8-171, Hilbrands 4-60, Walker 2-36, Schultz 1-11, Neuville 1-11, Klitzke 1-8, Marquardt 1-2. CC, Zylstra 9-82, Peterson 4-55, Baune 3-27, Whiting 3-26, Gauldin 2-11, Tobkin 1-11.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com