Story and photo courtesy of Concordia Athletics
WEST UNION, Iowa
- Senior quarterback Spencer Ohm's (Blooming Prairie, Minn.) 62-yard hail mary pass was hauled in by senior wide receiver Charles Gilbert (Jacksonville, Fla.) with no time left on the game clock to propel Concordia University (5-5, 4-5 NSIC, 2-3 NSIC South) to a 20-19 victory over Upper Iowa (3-7, 2-7 NSIC, 0-5 NSIC South) on Saturday afternoon at North Fayette High School. Concordia had trailed 19-7 with just over two minutes to play before Ohm and Gilbert hooked up for two late touchdowns in the Golden Bear win.
The Golden Bears scored 13-points in the final 2:09 and went 84-yards in the final 10 seconds of the game for the comeback victory.
Concordia pulled out the victory despite being out-gained 553-359 in the contest, and committing one more turnover (3) than the Peacocks (2).
Gilbert finished with seven receptions for 143 yards and two more touchdowns. All but one of his 23 career scores are from at least 22-yards with the 62-yarder being the second longest touchdown reception of his career. Ohm completed 23-35 for 268 yards and two touchdowns. In the game, Ohm surpassed 5,000 career passing yards and reached 40 career touchdown passes.
Upper Iowa converted a 26-yard field goal with 3:38 to play in the third quarter to take the 19-7 lead. It was Steven Sandoval's second field goal of the game, but for Concordia, the key was that both were inside 30-yards (26, 21) as the defense held strong in the red zone.
After the Sandoval field goal late in the third, Concordia started the comeback trail.
On the ensuing drive, they moved from their own 31 to Upper Iowa's 41 when Ohm was intercepted at the 18-yard line, halting an opportunity for points.
Upper Iowa responded by driving down to the CU 13-yard line, with Sandoval missing a 30-yard field goal, giving the ball back to Concordia.
On the second play of their drive, however, Concordia turned the ball over once again as Ohm's pass to senior Sam Campbell was fumbled with Upper Iowa recovering on the 20-yard line.
UIU would march down to the CU 2-yard line, with Concordia stuffing Peacock running back Chris Smith on the 1-yard line with senior Jake Vann (Plymouth, Minn.) making the drive ending tackle.
Taking over on their own 1-yard line and with turnovers on their last two possesions, Ohm was intercepted on the first play at the 25-yard line downfield with the INT returned to the CU 9-yard line and UIU was threatening again.
Now only 5:50 remained in the game, and Concordia was still unable to chip away at the 12-point Upper Iowa lead.
The Golden Bear defense, once again with their backs against the wall, responded in a big way, shutting the Peacocks out inside the 10-yard line and Sandoval would miss a 23-yard field goal, his second straight miss from 30-yards or closer.
With 3:42 to play, the offense picked up where the defense left off. Ohm fired a pass to junior Tre Mason (League City, Texas) for a 25-yard first down to their own 45-yard line. He followed it with back-to-back 7-yard completions to Mason and Gilbert, and 5-yarder to redshirt-freshman Cordell Smith (Mequon, Wis.) to get to the UIU 36-yard line.
A 9-yard completion to Campbell set up the 27-yard touchdown strike to Gilbert with 2:09 to play in the game and trailing 19-14. Campbell had three catches in the game, tying Calvin Simon's (2007-10) school record 40-game reception streak. He also rushed 11 times for 55 yards with a first quarter rushing touchdown.
After the Peacocks recovered freshman Tom Obarski's onside kick at the CU 41-yard line, it was up to the defense again.
Armed with all three timeouts, the Peacocks converted a 2nd and 8 with a 21-yard burst by Smith to the CU 18-yard line.
Upper Iowa decided to run with their QB on 4th and eight from the CU 16-yard line, getting no gain (again stopped by Vann) as Concordia would take over on downs on their own 16 yard line with only 10 seconds to play in the game, needing a touchdown for the win.
On the first play, Ohm found Gilbert for 22 yards as the speedy senior stepped out at their own 38-yard line with three seconds remaining.
From there, everyone in the stadium, listening on the radio and watching on their computers on the webcast knew the play call: desperation hail mary.
Ohm dropped back, had plenty of time, stepped up in the pocket before scrambling to his left. Gathering himself near his own 35-yard line, he hurled the final pass of the game deep downfield with Gilbert coming out of the crowd in the end zone with the touchdown catch.
A miraculous finish as Concordia went 84 yards in 10 seconds for the win. All that was left was to knee on the ball on the two-point conversion to seal the 20-19 victory.
Concordia's defense racked up 9.0 more tackles for loss, spread around to nine different players. Vann and redshirt freshman Abdullah Asad (Chicago, Ill.) led the defense with nine tackles each from the safety position. Senior Taylor Selby (Stratford, Wis.) added seven tackles and 1.0 tackle for loss to continue his hot streak. Sophomore Jeremy Head (Bolingbrook, Ill.) recorded his first career interception.
For the Peacocks, Cole Jaeschke passed for 410 yards and two touchdowns, completing 11 passes to Shay Gutman who had 169 yards and a 36-yard TD catch. Drew Kaluzny had three catches for 102 yards and an 85-yard score. Chris Smith rushed 21 times for 118 yards for UIU.
The victory for Concordia allows them to play for a winning season next Saturday at Metrodome with a 5:00 p.m. kickoff against Southwest Minnesota State. They'll also be playing to even their NSIC overall and divisional records at .500.