The offense sprang to life in the final 19 minutes but the Central College football team ran out of time in sustaining a 21-18 loss to Simpson College Saturday.
Trailing 14-0, quarterback Brendon Boerm (freshman, Traer, North Tama HS) got the Dutch on the board with a 2-yard keeper with 3:30 left in the third quarter, completing a 13-play, 75-yard drive.
But Simpson (4-1 overall, 2-0 Iowa Conference) answered just 45 seconds later with a 40-yard TD pass. A 30-yard Kevin Sheldon (sophomore, West Des Moines, Valley HS) field goal made it 21-10 and Ben Lechtenberg (senior, Manchester, West Delaware HS) hauled in an 18-yard scoring pass from Aaron Eiseler (sophomore, Mesa, Ariz., Red Mountain HS) with 4:19 remaining. Boerm hit running back Josh Osborn (sophomore, Burlington) with a pass for the 2-point conversion to pull the Dutch (2-3 overall, 1-1 conference) within three, but Simpson was able to run out the clock.
"Our offense played better in the second half," coach Jeff McMartin said. "We got some things going. We definitely saw glimpses of what we can do, which is encouraging. But it shouldn't take halftime to make that happen. We've got to come out of the gates ready to play."
The Dutch defense was the story in the first half. Simpson came into the game with the league's top passing attack and was averaging 428 yards per game total offense. But Central made two huge second-quarter stops. Cornerback Eric Larson (sophomore, Waverly, Waverly-Shell Rock HS) came up with an interception at the Dutch 2-yard line. On Simpson's next possession, the Storm had first down on the Central 1 and was turned away four straight times.
But two plays later, the Dutch fumbled at their own 8-yard line and on third down Simpson finally found the end zone with 1:35 left in the half.
"It's tough when that happens," McMartin said. "We hadn't gotten much going on offense but yet defensively we really fought and scrapped. That fumble is not what lost the game but it certainly didn't help. I'll keep saying it, you have to take care of the football and you can't have costly penalties if you want to win."
Simpson, which had been averaging just 60.8 yards rushing per game, ran the ball a surprising 39 times while passing just 28. Quarterback Taylor Nelson was especially effective, scrambling for 86 yards on 16 carries with one score.
"They did a nice job today," McMartin said. "They maybe felt they saw something they could have success with against us and they have a quarterback who can run the ball. That's a weapon; we know that from our own team."
Simpson finished with 152 yards rushing while Nelson completed 17 of 28 passes for 199 yards and one TD. The Storm outgained Central 351 yards to 311 and held a 21-19 edge in first downs.
Boerm went mos t of the way as Central's quarterback in his second career start. He completed seven of 14 passes for 98 yards on a chilly, windy afternoon. He also rushed nine times for 33 yards. Osborn was Central's top rusher with 86 yards on 17 carries.
Eiseler came off the bench in the fourth quarter and completed four of five passes for 68 yards and one TD.
"Both quarterbacks did some good things," McMartin said. "We went to more of a dropback pass attack late in the game with Aaron to try to stretch the field and get back in the game."
Lechtenberg had five catches for 86 yards.
Linebacker Mike Young (junior, Country Club Hills, Ill., Hillcrest HS) had nine tackles with one tackle for loss and two pass breakups. Carson also had nine stops while strong safety Jacob Tune (sophomore, Mesa, Ariz., Red Mountain HS) and defensive lineman Brody Janssen (sophomore, Quincy, Ill.) each had eight tackles.
Central travels to Storm Lake next Saturday for a 1 p.m. game with Buena Vista University. The Beavers are 0-5 overall and 0-2 in the league after suffering a 42-21 loss to Wartburg College Saturday.
"We have to keep getting better," McMartin said. "There are a lot of good teams in the league. We've got a game against Buena Vista we've got to get ready for. We'll try to learn from this one. There's a lot of football to be played yet this year and I believe we're capable of playing better than we did today."