(Marion, IN) – #15 Concordia football traveled to #9 Indiana Wesleyan on Saturday afternoon for a key top-25 matchup to open MSFA Mideast play. After giving up 23 unanswered points, the Cardinals pitched a shutout in the second half while adding 13 points of their own. While the team had several chances to mount a comeback, Indiana Wesleyan held on for the 23-13 win.
Gavin Brooks threw for 327 yards and a touchdown while leading all rushers with 39 yards. Brandon Stewart punched in a rushing touchdown while leading the team with 93 receiving yards. Donovan Johnson added 59 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Concordia received the opening kickoff to start the game. The Cardinals turned an explosive play on the opening drive when Brandon Stewart took a pass for a 64-yard gain down to the Wildcats' 1-yard line. However, a 15-yard penalty moved CUAA back and IWU eventually forced a turnover on downs.
After multiple defensive stops, the Cardinal defense made a key play when Evan Pittenger forced and recovered a fumble at the Wildcats' 1-yard line. IWU countered with an interception in the endzone to keep the game scoreless. The Wildcats added a field goal on the next drive to lead 3-0 after the first quarter.
Indiana Wesleyan recorded a touchdown early in the second quarter to extend their lead. After an interception gave them possession in the redzone, the Wildcats struck again for a 17-0 advantage.
Concordia forced a missed field goal attempt on defense, but Indiana Wesleyan added another touchdown for a 23-0 lead. With 1:01 left before halftime, the Cardinals were able to break the shutout with a 7-play, 75-yard drive. Gavin Brooks lofted a 29-yard touchdown pass to Donovan Johnson over the defense, cutting the deficit to 23-7.
The Cardinals pulled closer with an 11-play, 69-yard drive in the 3rd quarter. After Seeger DeGayner took a 12-yard pass down to the 1-yard line, Brandon Stewart punched in a touchdown to make it 23-13.
Concordia continued to hold Indiana Wesleyan in check while looking to mount a comeback. A 2-yard fake punt run from Casey Rauch led to a first down, but the Cardinals were not able to complete a scoring drive.
In the fourth quarter a 12-play, 63-yard drive by Concordia brought the team into Wildcat territory. Nolan Smith made a toe-tapping 20-yard catch to keep a drive alive and Harmon Devries used his height for a 15-yard reception. However, the drive ended with a turnover on downs.
The Cardinals' final opportunity to come back came with 2:30 to play in the game. The team crossed midfield after a 20-yard pass to Harmon Devries and a 22-yard catch-and-run from Logan Hay. The team looked to drive farther, but Indiana Wesleyan made a late interception to close out the game.
Concordia will remain on the road next Saturday to face Siena Heights at 12pm.