Concordia falls at home
The disappointment was obvious in Concordia coach Shepherd Skanes’ face, voice and demeanor on Saturday.
His Hornets (4-3), who began Concordia’s football program with a 34-12 loss to NCAA Division II opponent West Alabama in 2005, fell to the Tigers 24-7 at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
The Hornets have not beaten the Tigers (3-3) in four meetings.
“We’re losing to the program,” said Skanes. “We stunk on the field. We didn’t even show up.”
The Hornet defense did its part, holding the Tigers to 236 total yards and 10 offensive points. But the offense was inconsistent throughout the game, gaining only 194 total yards and not scoring a single offensive point.
Worse yet, West Alabama linebacker Garry Pack — a transfer from Ole Miss — returned two interceptions for touchdowns.
“Probably the premier defensive player I’ve seen in this league,” said West Alabama coach Bobby Wallace. “He’s a great, great defensive player.”
The Hornets’ lone bright spot was a Vernon Daniels punt block returned for a 22-yard touchdown by Frank Anthony to cut Concordia’s deficit to 10-7 in the second quarter.
“We were pretty sound in the kicking game, except we got a punt blocked for the first time this year,” said Wallace. “But they did have some execution things in the kicking game that helped us, too.”
West Alabama got on the board first with a 44-yard Mitch Warfield field goal to cap a 12-play, 45-yard drive.
The Tigers extended the lead to 10-0 on a Derek Thomas 5-yard touchdown rush to cap a 3-play 38-yard drive.
The punt block got the Hornets back into the game, and the defense stuffed the Tigers on their first possession of the third quarter, forcing a punt.
But a Hornet offense that shot itself in the foot all day pulled the trigger again.
Concordia quarterback Ken Johnson, pressured by the Tiger pass rush, backed up 14 yards then attempted a pass. Pack hit his arm as it was going back, and the ball went airborne. Pack snagged it and raced 30 yards to put the Tigers up 17-7.
“He was trying to get the ball out of his hand and I was coming,” said Pack. “It just so happened as soon as he was throwing the ball, I happened to be in the path of ball. I reacted to it and picked it off.”
Skanes sensed the play’s implications.
“That was the backbreaker,” said Skanes. “That swung the momentum in their favor.”
Pack did the honors one more time to close out the scoring at 24-7. He picked off a Johnson pass again and rambled 26 yards for the touchdown.
“We didn’t do nothing,” said Skanes. “We’ve got to go back to the drawing board.”