ST. PAUL, Minn. – Paced by game-changing play in the first half by junior defensive end Chris Garrett, Concordia-St. Paul (5-3 NSIC) secured a 24-23 overtime win over Bemidji State (5-3 NSIC) on Saturday afternoon in the final divisional crossover week between the NSIC North and South.
On a sunny, breezy fall afternoon at Sea Foam Stadium, Garrett’s two strip sacks in the first half pushed him to a new school record with 33.5 career sacks, surpassing Zach Moore’s (2009-13) 33.0. Moore would later become CSP’s first-ever NFL Draft Pick, a sixth round selection by the New England Patriots in 2014, won a Super Bowl and has played five NFL seasons.
Garrett, just a junior, reached the career milestone in 25 games, compared to Moore’s 39 career games played across four seasons.
In addition to the strip sacks, both recovered by Concordia in excellent field position in the first half (including one recovery by Garrett), he would also knock down deflect a pass at the line of scrimmage that was intercepted by sophomore teammate Gabe Nkumu in the first half. He finished the game with 11 total tackles, 3.0 for loss, 2.0 sacks, the two forced fumbles, one recovery and one pass deflection. He now has 11.0 sacks on the year in eight games.
Garrett’s younger brother, freshman Darios Crawley-Reid, had his first career 100-yard rushing performance with 15-106 (7.1 avg) and two touchdowns for a team-high seven total TDs on the year.
The Golden Bears will play their final road game of the season next Saturday at Augustana at Kirkeby-Over Stadium with a 1 p.m. kickoff in Sioux Falls, South Dakota before returning home for the final two weeks.
Garrett’s big first half contributed to Concordia mounting leads of 10-0 just over 10 minutes into the game and 17-7 with just over four minutes to play in the first half.
On a windy day, CSP won the coin toss for the seventh time in eight games this season, electing to defer and take the wind in the first and third quarters. With the wind at their backs and with BSU facing a 15-plus mile per hour wind out of the south in the first and third quarters, CSP went into the fourth quarter with a 20-to-11 edge in first downs and 28:13 to 16:47 margin in time of possession.
Trailing by 10 (17-7) entering the fourth quarter, Bemidji State used a short field to set up a 35-yard field goal with 9:30 to play and executed an 11–play, 70-yard drive to take 4:09 off the clock and tie the game with a 13-yard passing touchdown with 1:51 to go.
In the overtime, sophomore Shaq Johnson dashed 14 yards on the first play to put CSP in scoring position. He eclipsed 100 combined yards, rushing 21-for-68 with 4-35 receiving.
A nine yard run by Crawley-Reid put CSP in an ideal position with 2nd-and-1 from the 2-yard line. After Crawley-Reid was tagged for a loss of seven on the next play, senior Maxon Hutton connected on the far sideline with senior Jake Tanner, who used his elusiveness and footwork to pick up two extra yards for a 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
On the next play, it was Crawley-Reid who found the end zone with the Danny Laudet PAT for a 7-point lead.
Bemidji State answered on its possession, as Emmett Enright connected with Jacob Anderson for a 24-yard touchdown on 4th-and-9 despite facing pressure from Garrett and the defensive front.
The Beavers, needing a win to cling to whatever NCAA playoff hopes they still had, elected to try to win the game with a two-point conversion with junior cornerback Preston Piltoff intercepting the try in the end zone to seal the victory.
The two teams matched each other with 196 rushing yards with BSU passing for 169 to Concordia’s 156. But Concordia forced four turnovers, two interceptions and the two Garrett strip sacks while BSU would force a pair.
Hutton finished the game 18-of-35 for 156 yards with a touchdown and an interception while adding 22 yards on the ground. He connected with six different targets, hitting five of them at least twice and three players had four receptions each including senior Jabril Clewis who had 4-47 with a 17-yard touchdown in the first quarter to make it a 10-0 lead.
Bemidji State running back Jalen Frye had a busy day with 46 carries for 151 yards and a long of 32. He averaged 3.2 per carry and added three catches for eight yards to total 49 touches.
BSU quarterback Emmett Enright complete 14-of-25 for 169 yards and three touchdowns but was intercepted twice including once by Opi Aghenu to stop a BSU drive at the CSP 35 yard line.
Enright found Brendan Beaulieu four times for 61 yards, and had two completions to Malik Williams for 18 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Williams also had a 51-yard run in the game.
Defensively, sophomore Jake Portz added his fourth double-digit tackle performance of the year to give him a new career high of 80 on the season. Nkumu had nine tackles to go with his interception while Dalton Smerchek and Dylan Wood had eight and seven tackles, respectively, including a majority of those at or near the line of scrimmage.
In the secondary, Piltoff had the game-sealing interception on the two-point try, but also had six solo tackles and a pair of pass breakups and had a fourth quarter interception called back on an offside penalty.