Concordia struggled to get anything going in the first half and found themselves down 0-23 at halftime against the Liberty Panthers on Friday, Sept. 1, 2023. The team and coaching staff used halftime for a complete reset and a new mentality.
The Crusaders came out of the half strong when QB Tanner Huckfelt ’24 connected with WR Cody Cutrer ’24 for a 47-yard TD, cutting the Panther’s lead to 23-7.
On the ensuing Panther drive, the defense stepped up when CB Bobby Wilson Jr. ’26 forced his first of two caused fumbles on the evening. LB Luken Koehn ’25 scooped up the ball and put the Crusaders right back in Panther territory. A few plays later, Huckfelt hit Koehn for a 1-yard TD toss to make the score 14-23 in a matter of a few minutes.
Following another strong defensive stop, on the Crusaders next possession, RB/SS Lou Lamar ’24 ripped off an impressive 59-yard up-the-gut spin cycle TD run. Lamar broke three tackles one at the line of scrimmage, the backfield, and the secondary and then ran away from any other players.
After K Grant Pickrel’s ’24 PAT, Concordia was down by only two after three-consecutive scores on three-straight offensive possessions. At the end of the 3rd quarter, Pickrel drilled a 38-yard field goal to put the Crusaders on top 24-23.
Both defenses locked things up in the 4th quarter. With the Panthers just outside the red zone looking to take back the lead, LB Joseph Beverly ’26 chased down Liberty’s QB and caused another fumble that Wilson Jr. jumped on.
Then, later in the 4th with only 2:29 left in the game, the Panthers were on the Crusaders’ 10-yard line when DL Cameron Hahn ’25 busted through the line to block the potential game-winning 27-yard FG attempt. DL Tyler Jeansonne ’24 secured the ball at the bottom of the dogpile. (The kicking game of the Panthers is a strength as earlier in the game, the Liberty kicker drilled a 52-yard field goal, a distance that most high school kicker’s cannot reach.)
On the ground, Concordia had 163 rushing yards, but it was tough sledding as over half of those yards (86) came on two rushes (Lamar – 59 yards and RB Matthew Garza ’24 – 27 yards). The other 26 team rush attempts struggled to penetrate the Panther front line averaging less than 3 yards per rush. In the air, Huckfelt was 14/25 for 200 yards and 2 TDs, with 9 different Crusader receivers catching a pass.
The ground attack by the Panthers took a little bit of time to tame as the Liberty running backs had 341 yards of their team’s 388 total yards. Defensively for the Crusaders, FS Dayton Navy ’26 led the team with 8 total tackles (6 solo and 4 assisted) and LB Jayden Noack ’24 had 7 total tackles include 2 tackles for loss. The entire Concordia defense stepped up in a major way to not allow the Panthers to score in the 2nd half in their 2023 home opener.
Based on the box score, the Crusaders appeared to have been outplayed in many categories: total offensive plays (57-61), total yards (363-388), rushing yards (163-341), first downs (15-24), and 3rd down conversions (25%-33%). However, it was Concordia’s grit and ability to reset the game at halftime to allow them to come out on top in the most important stat column.
Last year, the Crusaders started the season by winning their first four games but struggled down the back stretch of the season and finished 5-6 Overall. This year’s squad features many returners as well as many new key contributors. They will look to continue to build chemistry and momentum in the non-district schedule before the challenging district schedule.
Student Council and the Cheer team are hoping to pump up the excitement for the Crusaders this Fall at the home Football games with some special themes for the games:
- September 8 vs. Beaumont Kelly Catholic = Red, White, and Blue
- October 6 vs. St. Pius X = All Out Concordia Homecoming (Navy, Silver, and White)
- October 20 vs. Central Catholic = Pink Out!
- October 27 vs. Antonian Prep = Jersey Night
Up next for the Crusaders is a home non-district matchup against the Bulldogs of Beaumont Kelly Catholic. Last year, Concordia leashed the Bulldogs with a 49-7 victory in Beaumont. The game will be hosted at Concordia inside Schroeder Stadium with a 7 pm kickoff. Over the last decade, the Crusaders are 5-0 against the Bulldogs (outscoring them 237-72) and look to continue that streak. The home game will also feature a tailgate for Century Club donors and their families in the north end zone.
To learn more about the Football program at Concordia, visit www.sadernationtx.com/football
Video Highlights from 9-1-23 game @ Liberty 24-23 victory: http://www.hudl.com/v/2LY0W6
Game-winning Blocked FG Attempt by DE Cameron Hahn: http://www.hudl.com/v/2LXbtM