The University of Dubuque gained an early advantage in the Iowa Conference football race by dealing Central College a 56-28 setback.
It was Central's first loss to the Spartans since 1987 and the most points the Dutch have yielded since a 61-6 defeat against St. Ambrose in 1951. Dubuque's 550 yards of total offense were the most ever allowed by Central, eclipsing the 537 gained by Wartburg in 2003.
"Give Dubuque credit," coach Jeff McMartin said. "They played very well."
Central (2-2 overall, 1-1 conference) was forced to play catch-up most of the day. Dubuque (4-0 overall, 2-0 conference) took the opening drive 83 yards in 11 plays as all-American receiver Michael Zweifel caught a 19-yard TD pass from Wyatt Hanus. Zweifel had 16 catches for 232 yards and three touchdowns on the day while Hanus was off the charts, completing 33 of 45 passes for 418 yards and six touchdowns. The Spartans also rushed for 132 yards.
The Dutch fired back in the first half, answering Dubuque's opening TD with an 11-play, 65-yard march. Running back Ross Doehrmann scored from 14 yards out. But Dubuque needed just two minutes to regain the lead, then built it to 21-7 following a Dutch fumble.
"We needed to get some stops," McMartin said.
A 10-yard scoring run by quarterback Nate Snead made it 21-14 but Dubuque's fourth TD in four possessions stretched the lead to 28-14. A 76-yard Snead strike to Ben Lechtenberg let Central crawl back to within 28-21 and had a chance to tie when the Dutch defense forced a Dubuque punt. But in one of the game's pivotal plays, a Snead pass was deflected and intercepted by Marice Hill who rumbled 44 yards to the end zone for a 35-21 advantage at intermission.
"Those were pretty critical turnovers," McMartin said. "With the way they played, we couldn't afford to make mistakes. They stopped us and that became the ballgame."
Dubuque broke it open in the second half, holding Central scoreless until the final 11 seconds, when Doehrmann went in from the 1.
Central finished with 404 yards of offense. Snead completed six of 17 passes for 145 yards with one interception and one touchdown. Backup Jack Flaherty completed three of six passes for 51 yards. The Dutch rushed for 208 yards as Snead topped the 100-yard mark for the second straight week with 111 on 26 carries with one score. Doehrmann gained 64 yards on 17 carries with two touchdowns.
Linebacker Patrick Kelley had nine tackles while linebackers Ryan Steinkamp and Keith Rush and strong safety Ryan Schmidt each had eight stops.
Central must rebound quickly, returning to Pella to take on Coe College in a homecoming game next Saturday at Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium at 1 p.m. The Kohawks upset Wartburg Saturday at Waverly, 27-24.