#12 Concordia University staked their claim to a playoff spot in the NAIA post season by defeating conference foe (RV) Indiana Wesleyan University 28-17 on Senior Day at Ann Arbor. The Cardinals looked like a determined team right from the start of the game. The IWU Wildcats fielded the kickoff and were forced to punt after a three and out. CUAA blocked the punt and recovered on the IWU 21 yard-line. Two plays later Omar Sinclair crossed the goal line on a 12-yard jaunt and Concordia was up 7-0.
IWU was pinned at their own 4-yard line on the ensuing kickoff. After a three and out, the Cardinal defense forced a punt and the Concordia offense scored on their first play with a 35-yard TD pass from Peter Morrison to backup QB and some-time receiver, Parker Graham. CUAA 14-0.
But the Wildcats, who have been through several close games this season with fellow MSFA opponents, were not ready to roll over. The Wildcats moved the ball but got stymied at the CUAA 40-yard line with a 4th and 1. They decided to go for a 1st down. The Cardinals put in their goal line defense and stopped the a QB sneak by Zach Blair. The Wildcat defense held and forced a punt.
IWU then mounted a 16-play scoring drive that took 9 minutes to complete. Kick was good and CUAA now led 14-7. IWU got the ball back and were able to score with 33 seconds remaining in the half. The score was tied 14-4.
CUAA took the kickoff to start the second half and came out with a different offensive set than any they used in the first half. Parker Graham was in the game at QB and ran the read option. The Cardinals ran the ball on six straight plays with Omar Sinclair scoring from 7 yards out. The drive spanned 82 yards. The offensive line deserves a lot of credit for this win. They controlled the line of scrimmage and kept the ball out of IWU’s hands. 21-14, Concordia.
IWU then mounted another long drive that ended after 69 yards and a Field Goal. The score was 21-17 at the end of the 3rd quarter.
The Cardinals began a clock-chewing drive at the start of the fourth quarter. The drive was 10 plays over 59 yards ending with a 1-yard TD run by Omar Sinclair. He had 3 TDs on the day. Concordia held a 28-17 lead.
The Wildcats were not done yet. They mounted a drive into Cardinal territory aided by a roughing the passer call on 4th down. A Pass Interference got the Wildcats down to the Cardinal 29. QB Zach Blair dropped back to pass but then took off over the left side. Defensive Lineman C. Stefanski hit him from behind and knocked the ball out. CUAA recovered the ball and took over at their own 27. The offensive line again took over the game. Concordia shoved the Wildcats down the field on a 14-play, 67-yard drive that took the remaining 7:50 off the clock. Game ends with the Cardinals winning 28-17. It was a must-win game and the 12th ranked Cardinals looked like they belong in the playoffs. They await the NAIA selection program on Sunday night to learn their fate.