It was the final game of a record-breaking career for quarterback Nate Snead (senior, Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) and maybe his best as he muscled his way to a career-high 188 yards rushing and the Central College football team claimed a share of second place in the Iowa Conference with a 37-14 triumph at Simpson College Saturday.
Snead and the Dutch (7-3 overall, 6-2 conference) owned the Red Zone and that was the difference as they broke open a tight game in the second half. Central scored five touchdowns and a field goal in six trips inside the Simpson 20-yard line. Meanwhile, the Dutch defense turned Simpson (5-5 overall, 5-3 conference) away on four of six Red Zone opportunities.
Snead scored touchdowns on two of his 19 carries and also completed 12 of 17 passes for 180 yards and one TD with no interceptions. His previous rushing high was 139 yards against Luther Sept. 17.
A pair of Simpson goal-line plays proved pivotal. After Central got a 2-yard Ross Doehrmann (junior, Williamsburg) TD run on its opening possession, Simpson was set to answer, getting a first down at the Central 2-yard line. But defensive lineman Danny Samson (sophomore, Baxter, CMB HS) forced a fumble that was recovered at the 1 by defensive back Ryan Schmidt (senior, Keswick, Tri-County HS). Then Snead directed a 99-yard, eight-play drive, scrambling for a 5-yard score and it was suddenly 14-0. A 14-play, 76-yard drive in the second quarter ended with a 1-yard Josh Osborn (freshman, Burlington) leap into the end zone to make it 21-0.
Simpson regained some momentum with two late second-quarter scores to cut the lead to 21-14 at the half. The Storm again looked poised to tie the score in their first possession of the third quarter, picking up a first down at the Central 7-yard line. The Dutch defense came up big again, however, stifling Simpson on its next three plays and freshman Eric Larson (Waverly, Waverly-Shell Rock HS) blocked a 20-yard field goal try.
"We thought we could get a block on that kick," McMartin said. "We had Eric Larson, a freshman, who's really quick off the edge, we put him in this week to try to block the kicks," McMartin said. "I feel like he was close on some others. Our guys got a great push and made the play. That was a huge stop."
Two plays later, Snead delivered the backbreaker, racing down the sideline 70 yards for a 27-14 lead.
"Those two stops were probably the biggest plays of the game," McMartin said.
Still, Simpson made yet another push deep into Central territory, but on fourth-and-one at the Central 4-yard line, came up empty once again following a Taylor Nelson incompletion.
And again Central responded in a big way, grinding out a 14-play, 96-yard drive with S-back Preston West (senior, Swisher, Cedar Rapids Prairie HS) scoring on a 12-yard Snead toss with 12:29 left in the game. The Dutch added a 25-yard Kevin Sheldon (freshman, West Des Moines, Valley HS) field goal with 3:59 remaining.
Central outgained Simpson 488 yards to 360 and held a 23-22 edge in first downs, but the big difference was on the ground where Central dominated 308-26. Nelson completed 36 of 50 passes for 334 yards for Simpson but was sacked four times.
Osborn rushed for 59 yards on 13 carries with one touchdown. Ben Lechtenberg (junior, Manchester, West Delaware HS) had four pass receptions for 82 yards while seniors Jeremy Snead (Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) and Brett Wilkin (Pleasant Hill, Southeast Polk HS) each had three catches for 45 and 31 yards, respectively.
Linebacker Keith Rush (junior, Griswold) had 10 tackles, including two sacks while linebacker Seth Carson (junior, Woodridge, Ill., Downers Grove South HS) had six tackles and a pass breakup. Larson and defensive lineman Brady Hill (senior, Carroll, Kuemper Catholic HS) each had five stops.
"Our defense came up huge a lot of times," McMartin said. "We held them scoreless in the second half. You do that and most of the time you win football games."
Snead finished the year with 952 rushing yards, the most ever by a Central quarterback. He had 2,500 career rushing yards, climbing into seventh on the all-time list. Snead had 7,210 yards of total offense, just 50 yards shy of Tim Connell's career mark (2004-07) and did so in four fewer games. His 2,869 yards of total offense in 2011 also ranks second. Snead had 91 rushing/passing touchdowns, 21 more than any player in school history. And he ranks third on the career passing yardage charts with 4,710. In 2011, he completed 129 of 225 passes (57.3 percent), gaining 1,917 yards, which ranks third all-time. He had 10 interceptions and 16 touchdowns.
"He's the ultimate competitor," McMartin said. "There's not a more competitive guy out there. He just makes plays. His goal today was to leave it all on the field and I can safely say he did that, as he's done every week."
The triumph marked the first time since 2004 that the Dutch have finished the season with a win, although four of those losses came in the NCAA Division III playoffs. It's a good way to wrap up a season, McMartin said.
"It's nice to have that heading into the off-season," he said. "I'm very excited for recruiting, I'm excited for this football team and I'm very happy for these seniors. These 30 seniors are just great men. They're good students with great character and they're very talented football players. They're what you look for. They're winners in all phases of life and we're going to miss them."
It's the pants—The Dutch broke out white game pants instead of red to go with their white road jerseys. It marked the first time since the early 1970s that Central went with the all-white look … Sheldon missed on his fourth of five extra-point tries, his first miss of the season. He finished with 47-of-48 for the year, a school record total. But he fell nine kicks shy of Marcus Kroloff's record for most consecutive PATs set from Oct. 10, 1998-Nov. 18, 2000…Jeremy Snead finished second in school career pass receptions with 129 and fourth in receiving yards with 1,775…Wilkin broke the school career kick return yardage record with 1,282. Mike Furlong (senior, Davenport, Assumption HS) ranks third with 1,180.