Former Cobbers wide receiver Zylstra scores first NFL touchdown with diving effort

Carolina Panthers wide receiver Brandon Zylstra played for the Concordia Cobbers for three seasons

Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera (R) hugs Carolina Panthers wide receiver Brandon Zylstra (16) after their game Sunday, Dec. 27, at FedEx Field. Zylstra scored his first career NFL touchdown in the game. Geoff Burke / USA TODAY Sports
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Former Concordia Cobbers wide receiver Brandon Zylstra scored his first NFL touchdown Sunday, Dec. 27, helping the Carolina Panther earn a victory against the Washington Football Team at FedEx Field.

Zylstra's score came on special teams during the first quarter of Carolina's 20-13 win. Washington's punt returner Steven Sims was hit as he fielded a punt and the football caromed into the end zone. Zylstra raced toward the loose ball and dove on it in the end zone, giving the Panthers a 6-0 lead with 1 minute, 42 seconds to play in the first quarter.

Zylstra's play helped spark the Panthers to a 20-0 that led the Panthers to the victory. He is in his third season in the NFL and second with the Panthers. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Zylstra played three seasons for the Cobbers from 2013-2015.

"I thought our special teams really helped us," Carolina head coach Matt Rhule said in his postgame press conference.

"That was a team that was playing for each other, that was playing together. ... When we made that first touchdown, that punt, our whole defense and offense ran out to celebrate with those guys."


Zylstra, from Spicer, Minn., had 120 catches for 1,932 yards and 18 touchdowns during his Concordia career. He averaged 16.1 yards per catch for the Cobbers, playing in 29 games.

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Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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