MOUNTAIN LIONS FALL IN PLAYOFF OPENER
by Kyle Cooper
Concord Sports Information Director
KUTZTOWN, PA – Winning a WVIAC championship and qualifying for the NCAA football playoffs will make the 2011 season an historic one for the Concord University Mountain Lions.
CU claimed its first league title since 1990 – and reached the post-season for the first time since 1992 – in Garin Justice’s first year as head coach.
However, the Mountain Lions’ memorable season came to an end in a 17-14 loss at Kutztown University (PA) Saturday afternoon at University Field in the first round of the Division II Super Region 1 tournament.
CU’s season ends at 7-4.
Ultimately, five turnovers by the usually sure-handed Mountain Lions proved too much to overcome as the Golden Bears claimed their first playoff win in school history.
Concord started each of its first four possessions at midfield or in Kutztown territory, scoring one touchdown. Brian Kennedy’s 16-yard run with :14 left in the 1st quarter put CU ahead 7-0.
The Golden Bears responded on their next possession, with Robbie Frey bursting through for a 52-yard touchdown run that squared the game at 7-7 with 10:41 remaining before halftime.
Kutztown took its first lead on Jack Ruggieri’s 22-yard field goal with 10:37 left in the 3rd quarter, after the Golden Bears took over on the CU 35 following a lost fumble.
The Golden Bears delivered a near-knockout when Marshall Vogel passed for a 21-yard touchdown to Josh Smith, on a 3rd-and-17 play, with :44 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
The Mountain Lions would get within three points when quarterback Zack Grossi plunged in for a one-yard touchdown run with :55 to go in the game. But the Golden Bears recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
Kennedy closed out his Concord career by rushing 31 times for 104 yards and a touchdown. Grossi completed 33 of 52 passes for 338 yards, but lost a fumble and threw two interceptions. Ryan Stewart caught eight passes for 111 yards and Tim Picard finished with nine receptions for 73 yards.
Jake Lilly and Zach Gibbins paced CU’s defense with 10 tackles apiece, and combined for three tackles for loss. Riyadh Richardson and Joe Greenway – the WVIAC’s Defensive Player of the Year – had seven tackles each.
Frey led KU’s offense with 157 yards rushing on 25 carries.
Saturday was the last Concord game for 11 seniors – Greenway, Kennedy, Gibbins, Brandon Link, Aaron Martinez, Carlton Downs, Rashid Baker, Ethan Perry, Spenser Jordan, Zach Thompson and Micah Carter.
This season, in addition to Greenway’s WVIAC award, Justice was named the league’s Coach of the Year and 14 players earned all-conference honors.
Saturday was Concord’s first NCAA post-season appearance and the eighth in school history. The Mountain Lions reached the NAIA playoffs seven times between 1977 and 1992.