CRETE — Don’t judge a book by its cover or a defense on just two possessions.
Concordia’s first two offensive possessions on Saturday at Al Papik Field netted 112 yards and 10 points. Doane’s defense allowed just six points and 171 yards in the final 3½ quarters as the host Tigers’ 21 straight points in the first half held up for a 21-16 Great Plains Athletic Conference victory in the final football game of the 2018 season for both teams.
“We had to make some adjustments, overcome some adversity and stick to the game plan,” said Doane senior defensive end Connor Hughes, who had six tackles and four of the 14 stops behind the line of scrimmage for the Tigers (6-4).
“We had to come together because we were playing a little loose,” Hughes added. “We wanted to stop the run and heat up the quarterback. We had a little trouble stopping the run the first two drives, but we made some adjustments and turned into a passing game. That’s where we wanted them.”
Concordia rushed for just 54 yards as the Bulldogs’ star running back, Ryan Durdon, was held to 62 yards on 28 carries.
It was only fitting that the defense was on the field to close out the win. Concordia (3-7) started its final possession at its own 15 with 6:21 left and got as close as the Doane 36 with 1:29 left.
A Bulldog holding penalty, an incomplete pass with Hughes pressuring quarterback Jake Kemp and a sack by the Tigers’ Nathan Williams left Concordia with a fourth-and-28 from its own 46.
Kemp, who came in for injured starter Andrew Perea in the third quarter, found Vincent Beasley over the middle for a 20-yard pass, but Doane safety Seth Majerus brought him down short of the first down with 43 seconds remaining. Majerus led the Tigers with nine tackles.
“I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way,” Hughes said about having the defense on the field with the game on the line at the end. “I took it upon myself to lead these men and they were really good followers. It takes great followship to have great leadership.”
Concordia took its 10-0 lead on a 6-yard touchdown run by Durdon at the 9:24 mark of the opening period and a 26-yard field goal by Tate Janssen less than three minutes later.
After Doane went three-and-out on its first two possessions, the Tigers answered with a six-play, 66-yard drive capped by a 7-yard TD pass from junior quarterback Jack Kalina to Wyatt Bodfield. Doane took a 21-10 halftime lead after a 9-yard touchdown run by Jamaine Derogene with 4:15 left in the second quarter and a 44-yard TD strike from Kalina to Jacob Beller with 28 seconds showing with what turned out to be the winning score.
Doane had just 55 yards of total offense in the second half to finish with 316 for the game. Kalina was 12-of-27 for 165 yards and two TDs.
“We were out of whack there on both sides of the ball on the first two possessions,” Doane coach Chris Bessler said. “After that, we got into rhythm and handled things very well. I thought Concordia did a good job of keeping us out of rhythm in the second half possessing the ball. Give credit to Concordia for what they did defensively in the second half.”