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Fourth-down stops let Central dodge Dubuque

Football | Sept. 19, 2009

David ZacharyDUBUQUE—Fourth-and-goal plays loomed large for the Central College football team Saturday but this time it was the defense that delivered as the No. 16 Dutch escaped with a 41-27 victory at the Univ. of Dubuque Saturday.    

A week ago Central (3-0 overall, 1-0 Iowa Conference) scored on a fourth-and-goal play from the 1-yard line in a 22-21 win over Wis.-Stevens Point. But Saturday, with the Dutch clinging to a 33-27 fourth-quarter lead, Dubuque (1-2 overall, 0-1 conference) twice had fourth-and-goal opportunities and were denied.

Meanwhile running back David Zachary (senior, Des Moines, Dowling HS) rushed for a career-high 161 yards and four touchdowns on 18 carries as the Dutch offense delivered when it needed to in overcoming a Dubuque attack that unleashed a 504-yard offensive barrage. That’s the most yardage given up by Central since allowing a school record 539 yards in a victory at Bethel College (Minn.) Sept. 10, 2005. Dubuque receiver Michael Zweifel caught 12 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns while running back Justin Spaulding gained 157 yards and a TD on 30 carries. Quarterback Colton Hansen completed 20 of 28 passes for 317 yards and three scores.

“You have to give Dubuque a lot of credit,” coach Jeff McMartin said. “Their offensive scheme was really good. They were able to really stretch the defense in a lot of ways. They ran the ball well, Zweifel is a great receiver and their quarterback was on the money. They matched us move for move and put our defense in a lot of tough situations.”

It was the third straight year that Dubuque threatened to pull off the upset. The Dutch, who haven’t lost to the Spartans since 1987,  needed triple-overtime for a 37-34 win at Dubuque in 2007 and hung on for a 24-21 victory at Pella last fall.

Central finished with 419 yards offense, including 275 on the ground. Quarterback Nate Snead (sophomore, Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) gained more than 90 yards for the third straight game, rushing for 99 on 16 carries. He also completed eight of 14 passes for 79 yards and a score. Zack Bandow (junior, Manilla, IKM HS) came off the bench late in the first half and completed 5-of-5 for 65 yards and a touchdown in a key six-play, 1:12 drive.

But the game’s pivotal plays came on a pair of Dubuque fourth-quarter drives. Early in the period, the Spartans had a first down at the Central 5-yard line. They lost Hansen due to injury and a third-down rush from the 1 was stopped. Dubuque was penalized for a false start on fourth down. Then on the fourth down replay from the six, backup quarterback Wyatt Hanus threw a pass to the end zone that was batted away by defensive back Cody Baethke (junior, Williamsburg). Baethke had 12 tackles while defensive back Ryan Schmidt (sophomore, Keswick, Tri-County HS) had 11.

Four plays later, the Spartans got the ball and another chance. They drove from their own 48-yard-line, picking up a first down at the 3. A third-down Hanus rush from the 1 was stuffed for no gain and his fourth-down pass fell incomplete.

“Those were critical times,” McMartin said. “The defense stepped up in the fourth quarter. It just shows the guys didn’t give up. They kept playing hard. They weren’t quitting, they weren’t hanging their heads. They were just focusing on the next play instead of worrying about what just happened.

“It wasn’t good that we found ourselves in that situation but it was great that we came out of it.”

After the last stop, with 6:49 left Central took over on the 1 and ground out the clock with an 11-play, 99-yard touchdown drive. Zachary iced it with a 36-yard scoring run with just 54 seconds left.

“That last drive was very impressive,” McMartin said. “We didn’t start with great field position but we just kept pounding. We did not want to punt the football.”

Zachary also opened Central’s scoring, racing 50 yards for a score with 10:38 left in the first quarter. Dubuque responded with a 45-yard Hansen TD pass to Spaulding and an 8-yard Hansen pass to Zweifel on the last play of the first quarter gave the Spartans a 13-7 lead.

Dubuque looked to extend its lead when Hansen was sacked by defensive lineman Aaron Steenhoek (junior, Pella) and fumbled, with Central recovering at the Spartan 36. Eight plays later Snead hit Mike Furlong (sophomore, Davenport, Assumption HS) on a 10-yard pass for a 14-13 lead.

Dubuque moved back on top 19-14 with a 74-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard Spaulding score with 1:42 left in the half but McMartin brought in Bandow for his crucial scoring drive and a 21-19 halftime lead.

Zachary had scoring runs of 1 and 10 yards in the third quarter while Zweifel caught a 21-yard TD pass for Dubuque.

It was Central’s second come-from-behind victory of the young season and its 18th in the past five years.

Coe College visits for Central’s Homecoming game next Saturday at 1 p.m. at Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium. The Kohawks are off to a 3-0 start and are 1-0 in the league after thumping Luther College Saturday, 19-6.

Central College