30 Iowa Conference titles
DUBUQUE — A 3-0 advantage in turnovers translated to a 23-21 victory for the University of Dubuque over the Central College football team Saturday.
Both squads had productive offenses in non-conference games but in the Iowa Conference opener it was defenses that were dominant, with neither team topping the 300-yard mark in total offense.
But Dubuque (2-2) turned two turnovers into touchdowns, and other factors hurt the Dutch as well, according to coach Jeff McMartin.
“Turnovers, penalties and poor execution really contributed,” he said. “Give Dubuque credit. They made plays. They didn’t make penalties, they executed and they didn’t turn the ball over.”
Dubuque’s Blaine Snitker returned an interception 26 yards for a score with 3:12 left in the first half for a 10-7 lead. A 37-yard Dubuque field goal as time expired in the half pushed the advantage to 13-7. Central briefly regained the lead when quarterback Aaron Eiseler (junior, Newberg, Ore., Red Mountain, Ariz. HS) found Brendon Boerm (junior, Traer, North Tama HS) for a 9-yard TD with 8:01 left in the third period. But Dubuque answered with a 24-yard field goal with 3:33 remaining in the quarter, then recovered a fumble at the Central 43-yard line and needed just four plays and 1:44 for its only other TD of the day and a 23-14 lead.
The Dutch had a steady wind at their backs in the fourth quarter but couldn’t find the end zone until they completed an 11-play, 86-yard, 2-minute march with a 5-yard Eiseler toss to Boerm to make it 23-21. Central couldn’t recover the onside kick and Dubuque was able to run out the clock.
Central’s first score came early in the second quarter when tight end Jack Norgaard (junior, Naperville, Ill., Neuqua Valley HS) hauled in a 36-yard Eiseler pass to put the Dutch ahead 7-3 with 14:18 remaining.
Dubuque held a 291 to 288-yard edge in total yards.
Eiseler completed 25 of 43 passes for 232 yards and three TDs, with one interception and two sacks. Boerm had six receptions for 58 yards while Blaine Forsythe (junior, Pella) had six catches for 51 yards and running back Taylor Cox (sophomore, Pella) had five receptions for 45 yards.
But the Dutch were held to 56 yards on the ground, after averaging 193.7 yards in the first three games. De’Andre Currie (junior, Phoenix, Ariz., Mountain Pointe HS) managed 33 yards on six carries.
“Dubuque took away a lot of things in the running game and forced us to pass,” McMartin said. “That’s what we ended up doing.”
Dubuque’s Kyle Acker rushed for 111 yards on 29 carries as the Spartans got 117 yards on the ground. But Dubuque’s pass-oriented offense, which was averaging 306.3 yards, was limited to 174 as Bryan Bradshaw completed 22 of 46 passes. The Dutch came up with stops three times at or inside the 10-yard line, limiting Dubuque to field goals.
“The defense played very well,” McMartin said. “Dubuque only scored one offensive touchdown. We also had some untimely penalties that hurt us and that needs to get fixed. But they gave us a great effort.”
Central was flagged seven times for 73 yards.
Defensive back Jason Breon (senior, Anamosa) had a game-high 12 tackles with two pass breakups. Linebacker Zac Miller (sophomore, Kansas City, Mo., Liberty North HS), back off the injured list, and linebacker Mike Young (senior, Country Club Hills, Ill., Hillcrest HS) each had 10 tackles with 2.5 defensive end Jack Shipley (senior, Tipton) had 10 stops with 2.0 tackles for loss. Defensive back Jacob Tune (junior, Mesa, Ariz., Red Mountain HS) had eight tackles and two breakups.
It’s not likely to be the last close game of the conference season.
“You better do things the right way if you want to be successful,” McMartin said. “There are a bunch of teams capable of winning on any given day. You have to not beat yourself. The teams that are able to do that will have success.”
Central remains on the road next Saturday, facing Simpson College at Indianola in a 1 p.m. game. Simpson is 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the league after tumbling at Waverly to Wartburg College Saturday, 34-24.
“It’s over now and we’ve got to learn from it, get the right pieces of the puzzle put together and get ready to play Simpson,” McMartin said. “There are a lot of games to be played yet. We’ll watch the film, we’ll have a good practice Monday and get things going again.”