ANGOLA, Wis. – Concordia University Wisconsin and Trine University put on an offensive shootout for the nearly 3,600 fans in attendance, as 850 total offensive yards were accumulated at Fred Zollner Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Falcons, however, lost a 47-41 contest to Trine in the second year of the MIAC/NACC Challenge Series.
CUW found itself down by two scores entering the final quarter and a valiant comeback attempt fell short, despite scoring 20 points in the final 15 minutes of action. The Falcons (1-2) trailed the entire game.
Numerous career highs were set throughout the game, with junior quarterback Austin Damaschke (Bristol, Wis.) and junior wide receiver Garrett Wenzelburger (Hartland, Wis.) highlighting the Falcons offense.
Damaschke tied his career high with 28 completions and five touchdowns, and went over the 300-yard barrier for the fourth time in his career. Wenzelburger recorded career bests in receptions (13), receiving yards (196), longest reception (37) and tied a career high with three touchdown receptions.
TU (3-0) carried the ball early and often, before finishing with 212 net rushing yards on 53 attempts (4.0 per carry). The Thunder held the ball for an astonishing 41:33 in the game, recorded 84 offensive plays and were 3-of-3 on fourth-down conversions.
The Falcons couldn't get their running game going – a week after they ran for 192 yards in a Homecoming win – and were held to just five net rushing yards. Because of their in ability to run the ball, CUW went to the air 42 times throughout the game.
Richard Gunn led all runners with 109 rushing yards on 17 attempts and a touchdown, while A.J. Shoemaker ran for 60 yards and three touchdowns. Andrew Dee finished 19-of-31 for 285 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for TU.
The Thunder scored on seven of their 15 total possessions, while the Falcons tallied four touchdowns over their final six drives.
With the ball being moved up and down the field with ease, it gave many opportunities for defenders to make plays.
Senior Joe Paul (West Bend, Wis.) led all players with a career-high 14 tackles (five solo), while senior John Palese (West Bend, Wis.) and freshman Dustin Veldboom (Sheboygan Falls, Wis.) each had career highs with 13 tackles, respectively.
Freshman DeShawn Pullen (Milwaukee, Wis.) intercepted his first career pass in the second quarter and returned it 37 yards. Sophomore Zack McQueen (Bartlett, Ill.) also made a memorable defensive play, blocking an important field goal attempt in the late stages of the fourth quarter.
The first three scores was something of the norm for CUW, as Damaschke found Wenzelburger for pass-and-catch touchdowns of 25, nine and four yards.
Shoemaker tallied his third rushing score of the game with 9:02 to play in the contest, which gave the Thunder a 47-27 lead and all but ending the game.
The Falcons weren't going to pack up and go home, as Damaschke marched the offense down the field before he ran in from 1-yard out to cut the deficit to 47-34 with just under four minutes to play.
A much needed defensive stand ensued as CUW's McQueen blocked a 35-yard field goal attempt to give the ball back to the offense with 1:22 to play. Damaschke found senior Cody Johnson (Brookfield, Wis.) in the end zone four plays later for an 11-yard strike to get with six points, 47-41.
The Falcons onside kick attempt was negated by an offside penalty, which allowed the Thunder to kneel the ball down and run the clock out.
CUW takes a week off from competition before its first Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference game of the season on Oct. 5 against Benedictine University at 1 p.m. at Tomasini Stadium. The game is also part of the University's Family Weekend.