MEQUON, Wis. – The defense came ready to play on Saturday afternoon and led Concordia University Wisconsin to a 13-10 home-opening victory over Trine University at the brand new Tomasini Stadium. The Falcons shut down the Thunder and allowed just eight first downs and 140 total yards.
After allowing over 400 yards rushing during their first two games of the season, CUW (1-2) finished with a more than impressive 26 yards rushing allowed on 27 attempts. The Falcons also held the Thunder to 23:15 time of possession and forced them to complete 3-of-15 third down attempts.
Seniors Matt Upson (New Berlin, Wis.), Matt Lechler (New Holstein, Wis.) and Anthony Hoitink (Sheboygan, Wis.) played the game plan to perfection and finished with a combined 27 tackles, four tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. TU (1-2) normally has no trouble moving the ball down the field, but it was forced to punt five times, turned the ball over on downs once and ended the game with an interception in seven of their last eight possessions.
While the defense was harassing the TU offense, the CUW offense was using a short-passing scheme to move the ball for 268 yards. Sophomore quarterback Austin Damaschke (Bristol, Wis.) concluded the victory 22-of-37 for 196 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also ran for 62 yards on 19 carries.
Freshman running back LaCurt Evans (Bloomingdale, Wis.) – who received his first significant amount of playing time this season – ran for 29 yards on 13 carries. Sophomore Garrett Wenzelburger (Hartland, Wis.) was again the go-to target in the passing game and finished with a career-best 10 receptions for 54 yards.
Evans scored the Falcons only touchdown after taking a screen pass 12 yards to pay dirt with 10:17 to play before halftime. As the game progressed, it appeared that any points put on the board would be extremely important.
Sophomore kicker David Gonzalez (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) drilled a pair of field goals on back-to-back Falcon drives in the third quarter. The first being a career-long 39-yarder after CUW marched down the field 51 yards in 11 plays, chewing up five minutes and 38 seconds off the clock.
It didn't take long for the Thunder to answer as they kicked a 24-yarder to tie the game at 10-10 with 5:03 to play in the game on the next possession.
On the ensuing drive, Gonazlez would kick what would be the eventual game-winner on a 29-yard boot directly through the middle of the uprights. The right-footer is now 2-for-2 on the season in field goal attempts.
The 1,243 in attendance almost received an exciting come-from-behind victory, as TU took the ball from their own 20-yard line and advanced into CUW territory quickly. The Thunder were at the Falcons 19-yard line with less than 10 seconds to play before junior John Palese (West Bend, Wis.) intercepted quarterback Ryan Hargraves to seal the win.
The game also marked the second annual Military Day at CUW and the first game in the MIAA-NAC Challenge Series.
CUW has a bye week before returning to action on Sept. 29 at Benedictine University at 1 p.m.