Searching for offense in a wind-swept finale Saturday, the Central College football team found plenty in running back Josh Osborn (junior, Burlington).
Osborn pounded out a career-high 199 yards on 37 carries and scored two touchdowns to power the Dutch past preseason Iowa Conference favorite Coe College, 21-7, at Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium.
The win pushed Central above the .500 mark to 6-4 overall, the school's 50th winning season since 1961. The Dutch close 2013 at 4-3 in league play, part of a four-way crowd in third place.
All four of Central's losses were by four points or less and coach Jeff McMartin repeatedly pointed to the need for playmakers in the second half. Saturday, the Dutch delivered. There was defensive lineman Danny Samson (senior, Baxter, CMB HS) putting heat on Coe signal-caller Josh Rekers for a third-down pass breakup. There was cornerback Jason Breon (senior, Anamosa) tipping away a fourth-down pass on Coe's attempt to get the game-tying score with 6:04 left in the fourth quarter. And there was Osborn, hammering his way inside the Red Zone on Central's ensuing possession, and then snagging a 4-yard Aaron Eiseler (junior, Mesa, Ariz., Red mountain HS) touchdown pass to put the game away.
Central gained 255 of its 345 yards total offense on the ground.
"We needed to," McMartin said. "Going into the wind, we knew we'd have to get first downs, possess the ball and keep it out of their hands. Coe has a very dangerous offense and sometimes your best defense is staying on the field offensively. Credit our offensive line; they did a good job of blocking. (Offensive coordinator Reid Evans) had a very good game plan and we used motion well and had some timely passes. And Josh (Osborn) ran the ball terrific today."
Osborn's previous best effort was a 192-yard outing against Albion (Mich.) Oct. 5 and Saturday marked his third 100-yard day of the season. He finished with 936 yards on the year, averaging 5.1 yards a carry and 93.6 a game. Osborn had 1,318 all-purpose yards, with 203 yards on 23 pass receptions and 179 on seven kickoff returns.
Meanwhile the Dutch defense kept Coe off the scoreboard. Coe's only score came on a 40-yard Dylan Youel interception return with 13:27 left in the second quarter, two plays after Samson blocked a 23-yard Kohawk field goal try. It was Central's 11th blocked kick of the season.
The Kohawks entered the game averaging 28.8 points and 417.7 yards per game but Central outgained them 345 yards to 144, and held a 20-7 advantage in first downs. It marked the first time since Nov. 28, 2009 that Coe had been held to seven points and it completed a remarkable year for the Dutch defense.
"Our defense was special," McMartin said. "I don't know the last time Coe's offense hasn't scored more points. That's a great credit to what we did on defense today. We were where we needed to be, we shut down the run, we were effective pressuring the quarterback and we got turnovers. That was huge."
Eiseler was 11-of-18 for 90 yards with one interception and two touchdowns for the Dutch. The winds and the Dutch defense were not as kind to Coe's Rekers, who connected on five of 20 passes for 35 yards with two interceptions and two sacks.
Linebacker Mitch Schroeder (junior, Lowden, North Cedar HS) had eight tackles including a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery for the Dutch. Linebacker Mike Young (senior, Country Club Hills, Ill., Hillcrest HS) and safety Jacob Edleman (senior, Mechanicsville, North Cedar HS) each had seven stops while cornerback Eric Larson (junior, Waverly, Waverly-Shell Rock HS) had five tackles, an interception and a pass breakup. Punter Blaine Forsythe (senior, Pella) averaged 38.2 yards on six punts.
Schroeder also topped the season tackles chart with 79, while Young had 68 with 13 tackles for loss. Linebacker Keith Rush (senior, Griswold) had 58 stops, including 17 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks and Samson had a team-high 21.5 tackles for loss with 11.5 sacks.
It was the final collegiate appearance for 21 Dutch seniors.
"We have a big group of seniors and some fifth-year guys who came back because of injuries and they've done a great job of leading," McMartin said. "All of them have. There's not one guy that at the end of the day I can't thank for being a great leader and being a great influence on their teammates; doing things the right way. We will really miss them all. It's starting to sink in right now and it's a hard thing for all of us to realize that we're not going to see these guys in a Central uniform anymore, because they've done the uniform proud."
And notching that sixth win gives the Dutch some extra burst as they look to 2014.
"I thought a little bit about that this week: what (a win) is going to mean for us and what it means for everybody and what it means for the seniors," McMartin said. "If that's the last game they ever play, they won a football game at home. To the underclassmen, it gives us something to build on, in recruiting it gives us something to build on; those are things that I think are really important. In 2011 we won our last game, last year we didn't. I know which feeling I like better and I know our players feel the same way. It's great to finish it out with a win."