The Northwestern football team traveled to Concordia on Saturday and found themselves upset by the Bulldogs with a disappointing result of 17-16. The loss makes the possibility of a playoff berth much more difficult.
After a quick Concordia three-and-out forced by a staunch Raider defense, the offense capitalized on its first possession with a three-play, 61-yard drive. The first offensive play was a 50-yard pass connection from junior quarterback Davis Bloemendaal to senior wide receiver Tyler Walker. Two plays later, junior running back Theo Bartman rushed for a three-yard touchdown. The extra point was blocked.
The Raiders made it 9-0 following a 20-yard field goal by senior kicker Mike O’Brien, which was the finale for a 13-play, 72-yard march downfield with four minutes left in the first quarter. With five minutes left until halftime, Concordia connected on a long touchdown pass to put the score at 9-7.
In impressive fashion, the Raiders responded with a three-play, 82-yard drive capped off by a 28-yard Bloemendaal strike to junior wide receiver Bryce Byker for the touchdown. At the halfway mark, the Raiders led 16-7.
Both teams engaged in a defensive chess match for the duration of the third quarter as both offenses were kept scoreless. The Raider offense took a blow when Bloemendaal was forced to miss nearly the entire second half due to injury. Freshman Braden Miltenberger came in at quarterback.
With eight minutes left in the game, Concordia reached the end zone on a 50-yard punt return touchdown, putting the score at 16-14.
The Concordia defense stopped NW on the ensuing possession, and forced another punt. The Bulldogs then went on a four-minute drive that resulted in a 24-yard field goal that put score at 17-16 in Concordia’s favor.
With 2:39 left in the game, the Raiders marched down the field quickly, led by a returning Bloemendaal, who went 6-7 and threw for 72 yards on the drive.
“After we managed to get a first down at the beginning of the drive, I had a lot of confidence that we would be able to put ourselves in a position to win,” said sophomore offensive tackle Brandon Pekelder. “We did do that, but we just did not get the result we wanted.”
The Raiders were eventually halted at the 7-yard line to attempt a 25-yard go-ahead field goal with four seconds left to go. O’Brien’s field goal went wide right, and Concordia took over on possession to run the clock out.
The 5-2 Raiders return to action at 1 p.m. Saturday at Korver Field by hosting GPAC rival Briar Cliff, who is currently 1-6 overall.
“We need to get refocused and take the rest of this season one game at a time and only worry about the things that we can control and hope for a playoff berth,” Pekelder said.