MEQUON, Wis. – In a season filled with individual highlights and record setting performances, Concordia University Wisconsin checked a pair of team goals off their list on Saturday after a 49-41 victory over Aurora University. The Falcons earned at least a share of the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference title and clinched the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship.
It has been six years since the Falcons have advanced to the postseason, but the 2013 squad will no doubt put on a show in the playoffs for the fourth time in program history on Nov. 23. The Senior Day home finale performance saw two team and three individual single season records broken.
CUW (7-2, 5-0 NACC) took a commanding 21-0 lead after the first quarter and built a 35-10 advantage by halftime before things got interesting down the stretch. AU (2-7, 1-4 NACC) scored 31 of the game's final 45 points and was within a touchdown and two-point conversion with 2:10 to play. However, a failed onside kick allowed the Falcons to run several plays before setting up three-consecutive winning kneel down formations.
Sophomore LaCurt Evans (Bloomingdale, Ill.) led CUW with a career-high 146 rushing yards and three touchdowns, including a career long 50-yard score. Junior Austin Damaschke (Bristol, Wis.) passed for 392 yards and three touchdowns, to go along with 97 rushing yards and a score.
Junior Garrett Wenzelburger (Hartland, Wis.) hauled in a career-high 14 passes for 138 yards. Senior James Saunders (Riverview, Fla.) finished with five receptions for a career-best 140 yards and two touchdowns, including an 83-yarder for a touchdown to give CUW a 35-3 lead.
The Falcons scored five-straight touchdowns to begin the game, three from the red zone, and ended with seven scoring drives to tie a single season record for touchdowns (50). They are also just five points shy of setting the team single season record for points (377), which was set in 1989.
While the offense was putting up it's usual statistics, freshman Bryan Thomas (Lowell, Ind.) had a career day on the defensive side of the ball, which included several highlight tackles. He recorded 16 total tackles, 10 solo, to lead the Falcons. Sophomore Luke Scheuerlein (Thiensville, Wis.) had eight total tackles, five solo, and two pass breakups, while seniors Taylor Witty (Milwaukee, Wis.) and John Palese (West Bend, Wis.) each had six total tackles.
Freshman Dustin Veldboom (Sheboygan Falls, Wis.) also made his first career interception prior to halftime and returned it nine yards.
Single season team records set throughout the game include first downs (225) and extra points (49). Individual single season records set include Damaschke for total offensive yards (3,144), Wenzelburger for receptions (91) and receiving yards (1,041), and Gonzalez for extra points (49).
Damaschke also set the NACC record for total offensive yards (7,592).
The Falcons passing game has been consistent throughout the season, but Saturday they ran for 264 yards and a season-high-tying five rushing touchdowns. Junior Shay Klitzke (Annadale, Minn.) busted up the middle for a 21-yard touchdown scamper, which was a career long, to end the scoring in the first quarter.
Since head coach Greg Etter took over prior to the start of the 2008 season, CUW has consistently grown and improved as each season passed. On Saturday, the Falcons racked up 656 total offensive yards (8.5 yards per play) and 789 all-purpose yards, both are bests in Etter's tenure.
CUW returns to the gridiron for the regular season finale on Saturday, Nov. 16 for a 1 p.m. showdown with Wisconsin Lutheran College. The winning team will take the Luther Cup.