With starting quarterback Mike Marotta sidelined with an injury, Concordia University Chicago’s football team kept the ball mostly on the ground en route to a 28-21 victory over conference foe Maranatha Baptist Bible College on Saturday.
The Cougars racked up 197 rushing yards against the Crusaders on the day, 180 of which were accounted for by running back Khyree Copeland to go along with his three touchdowns.
Concordia struck first on its second offensive drive of the day. The two-play, 62-yard drive was all Copeland as the sophomore ripped off a 16-yard run followed by a 46-yard scamper before finding the end zone. Ben Price’s extra point was good, giving the Cougars an early 7-0 lead.
Maranatha scored their first points of the day on a safety with 7:49 left in the first half. The Crusader defense had held the Cougars to a three-and-out on their fourth drive of the game, forcing them to punt. But punter Lukas Weeks never got the kick off as the snap sailed over his head and out of the end zone, cutting the Cougar lead to five.
With 5:20 left in the half and the Cougars driving, Maranatha jumped back into the game when a Jared Mundt pass was intercepted by Crusader defensive back Rob Dupre and returned 80 yards for a touchdown. The conversion pass failed and Maranatha took what turned out to be its only lead of the day
Concordia was able to respond right before the half, scoring on a two-yard run by Copeland which capped off a six-play 57-yard drive. The drive was aided by a 15-yard personal foul penalty on the Crusaders, and two runs of 16 and 18 yards by freshman running back Chris Corley. The first half ended with the Cougars up 14-8.
Concordia scored the only points of a defensively dominated third quarter on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Mundt to Weeks.
Maranatha again cut the lead to seven points on a 2-yard run by Mark Maize in the fourth quarter, but Concordia answered on the very next drive with a 2-yard touchdown plunge by Copeland. Mundt completed a pass to Nathan Bahr for 11 yards on the first play of that drive, then handed the ball to Copeland six straight times as he rushed for 46 yards before the touchdown run.
The Concordia defense gave up one more touchdown to the Crusaders on a 28-yard pass from Nate Chromy to Mike Walton with 3:53 remaining in the game. But Concordia cornerback Jarin Davis picked off a Chromy pass on the Crusaders’ last drive to secure the victory.
The Cougars travel to Mequon, Wis., Saturday to battle rival Concordia University-Wisconsin. Game time is 1 p.m.