INDIANOLA, Iowa - Quarterback Taylor Nelson broke an 85-year old school record by completing 31 passes Saturday but Simpson couldn't recover from an 18-point, fourth quarter deficit in a 31-23 loss to St. Olaf at Buxton Stadium.
The Storm (0-2) trailed 31-13 with under eight minutes to go before scoring 10 unanswered points, thanks in large part to the play of Nelson.
A 12-yard touchdown scamper by Nelson and a James Gale field goal made the score 31-23 with 1:30 left. After holding the Oles (2-0) to a three-and-out, Simpson got the ball back at its own 24 with 1:06 to go and no timeouts. The drive stalled at midfield, however, allowing St. Olaf to run out the clock.
"We were down, came all the way back and had a chance to win the game," head coach Jim Glogowski said. "The ball was in our possesion driving the field. Unfortunately, we ran out of time."
Only a sophomore, Nelson completed 31 of 51 passes, breaking the record of 30 completions set by Charlie McCoy in 1926. He threw for 343 yards, the most by a Simpson quarterback since 2004 when Scott McCarty threw for 377 against Loras.
"He's a talented football player," Glogowski said of Nelson. "Today we got in a situation doing some hurry up stuff at the end of the game and I thought he managed the offense really well. We had some big-time players step up and make some catches to help him out and our o-line blocked well at the end. It was a great effort by a lot of kids to get us back in the game."
Nelson's favorite target on the day was Mike Kuhn. Seeing his first action in red and gold after sitting out last season with an injury, Kuhn hauled in 10 passes for 135 yards.
Michael Chia rushed 17 times for 74 yards and two touchdowns to lead all rushers. Chia opened the scoring with a 27-yard scoring jaunt on the game's first drive and later scored from seven yards out early in the fourth.
Quarterback Dan Dobson went 23-for-31 through the air with 309 yards and three touchdowns for the Oles. Michael Thai paced the effort on the ground with 55 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.
After Simpson scored on its opening drive, the offense turned the ball over on downs twice deep in St. Olaf territory. Simpson failed to convert on a pair of 4th and 2 plays, the first from the 13 and the second from the 29.
Defensively, Mark Cronin made a career-high 12 tackles including two tackles for loss for the Storm. Braden Everding and Ted Haag chipped in with eight tackles apiece. Wes Lynch paced St. Olaf with 10 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss.
Down 7-0 after the first quarter, St. Olaf rattled off 24 straight points in taking a 24-7 lead into the fourth quarter.
Despite the loss, Glogowski saw a much better team take the field in week two than he did in week one, when Simpson fell to No. 7 Bethel 55-3.
"We came out with the mentality that we wanted to compete," Glogowski said. "We got after it, made some big plays early and got up on them early. We had a chance to make some plays at the end of the first quarter to go up 10 or 14 but missed that opportunity, which hurt us in the long run. Ultimately, the whole mindset and mentality is exactly what we want but unfortunately we came up a little short today."
The Storm open Iowa Conference play next weekend when they travel to Cedar Rapids to face Coe in a 1 p.m. kickoff.