30 Iowa Conference titles
PELLA — It was a day made for running and Central College’s Josh Osborn (junior, Burlington) ran like never before, with a career-high 192 yards rushing and three touchdowns as the Dutch wore down Albion College (Mich.) 31-6 Saturday.
Heavy rain pelted Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium midway through the first half and showers persisted much of the day. But after the teams slugged out a scoreless first quarter Osborn and the Dutch (2-1) took over.
“We wanted to run and as the day wore on, we ran better and better,” coach Jeff McMartin said. “Give our offensive line credit. That’s the best game they’ve played yet this year. We’re continuing to improve there. We want to keep getting better and the offensive line is a key component of that.”
Osborn caught a 16-yard TD pass from Aaron Eiseler (junior, Newberg, Ore., Red Moutain, Ariz. HS) with 14:10 left in the second quarter to put the Dutch on top. But Albion capitalized on a running into the punter penalty and got a 6-yard TD pass from Dominic Bona with 4:48 left to climb within 7-6. Central countered with a 10-play, 72-yard drive that ended with 45 seconds left in the half as Grant McArdle (senior, Red Oak, Stanton HS) grabbed a 16-yard Eiseler toss for a 14-6 halftime lead.
Osborn added 12- and 1-yard TD runs in the second half and kicker Kevin Sheldon (junior, West Des Moines, Valley HS) contributed an 18-yard field goal as the Dutch took advantage of three Albion turnovers.
Osborn’s previous best effort was a 135-yard day against Dubuque last Sept. 29.
“Josh ran really well,” McMartin said. “He just wants to play a big role. I think he challenged himself to get better and make good plays and he did. He made a lot of tough plays and some tough catches. That was a really tough catch he made for the touchdown.”
Central outgained Albion 392 yards to 239 and limited the Brits to 60 yards rushing. Bona completed 24 of 43 passes for 239 yards and a score but was intercepted by cornerback Eric Larson (junior, Waverly, Waverly-Shell Rock HS) and linebacker Mike Young (senior, Country Club Hills, Ill., Hillcrest HS). Larson also had three pass breakups, along with four tackles.
“Eric is a really good corner,” McMartin said. “He’s getting better every week.”
Defensive lineman Danny Samson (senior, Baxter, CMB) was disruptive as well. He had four tackles for loss for 23 yards, including a pair of sacks and five tackles overall, along with a pass breakup. Linebackers Mitch Schroeder (junior, Lowden, North Cedar HS) and Young each had seven tackles, including two tackles for loss by Young. Linebacker Jordan Wachter (junior, Clive, Waukee HS) had six tackles, including a tackle for loss. The Dutch had 10 stops for loss overall. Junior linebacker Nick Henry (Solon) also blocked an Albion punt to set up a score.
“We had a big fourth-down stop late,” McMartin said. “The defense played a huge role in winning the football game. To limit them to one touchdown with that quarterback and their talented receivers says a lot.”
Albion (2-2) had eight catches for 62 yards from running back Darrin Williams and six receptions for 82 yards from Joseph Mayone.
Eiseler completed 13 of 29 passes for 113 yards with one interception and two touchdowns for Central.
“It wasn’t really a day to chuck it all over the field,” McMartin said. “They changed up some coverages to try to get us to throw deep. We had chances to make some plays and we didn’t, but I’m confident we’ll get better.”
McMartin also saw some much-desired improvement in the special teams. Kickoff coverage improved, he said, and punter Blaine Forsythe (junior, Pella) had an effective effort in challenging conditions. He pinned Albion inside the 20-yard line on five of six punts and averaged 37.8 yards. Meanwhile Sheldon recorded touchbacks on three of six kickoffs.
Central is on the road the next two weeks as the Iowa Conference schedule opens. The Dutch are at the University of Dubuque next Saturday at 1 p.m.