Coe comeback stuns #10 Wartburg

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WAVERLY, Iowa - It was a comeback for the ages.  Trailing 17-0 at halftime, Coe rallied for a 27-24 win over 10th-ranked Wartburg Saturday at Walston Hoover Stadium.  It was just the 12th home loss for the Knights in 10 years, with Coe winning in its last two trips to the stadium.

The Wartburg offense was too much for the Kohawks early on, as they scored touchdowns on their first two drives. On just the second play of the game, Wartburg's Dan Stiefel found Logan Ruffridge for a 52-yard gain. Three plays later, on third down, Reese Thompson plunged in from one-yard out to give the Knights a 7-0 lead with 12:43 left in the first quarter.

Coe's offense had a response, but wasn't able to put points on the scoreboard. The Kohawks converted two third downs on the ensuing drive, but were stuffed on fourth-and-three from the Wartburg 24-yard line.

The Knights took over and went right back to the air. On second down, Stiefel found Thompson for a 39-yard gain to the Kohawk 19 yard line. After being stopped for no gain on first down, Thompson rushed for 15 yards and another first down. With 5:50 left in the first quarter, Stiefel found Levin Helbing in the corner of the end zone to put Wartburg up 14-0.

After the two teams exchanged punts, Coe's Brendan Leiran (Waukon, Iowa/Waukon) fumbled at the Wartburg 43 yard line with the Knights recovering. A 55-yard pass from Stiefel to Helbing moved the ball to the Coe five-yard line. The Knights weren't able to turn it into a touchdown, but Marcus Williams punched threw a 21-yard field goal with 14:51 to play in the first half.

The remaining 14:51 of the first half resulted in three punts from Coe's Wes Anderson (Newhall, Iowa/Benton Community), three punts from Wartburg's Robby Salmon, an interception from Coe's Brad Boyle (New Sharon, Iowa/North Mahaska) and a failed fourth-down attempt by the Knights at the Coe 27-yard line.

Things changed for the Kohawks in the second half. Facing third-and-four, Boyle completed an 11-yard pass to junior Jared Kuehner (Center Point, Iowa/Center Point). Boyle then rushed for 18 yards into Wartburg territory before finding Keaton Juergens (Elkader, Iowa/Central Elkader) for an eight-yard gain. On the next play, Boyle found sophomore Gage Mohs (Fredericksburg, Iowa/Sumner-Fredericksburg) for a 27-yard touchdown pass. The pass cut Wartburg's lead to 17-7 with 12:55 left in the third quarter.

The Knights marched the ball down the field, but Coe stopped Wartburg on third-and-seven, forcing a field goal attempt. The 31-yard attempt from Williams sailed wide left, giving the Kohawks the ball back.

Coe found itself back in the game on the next drive, going 80 yards on 15 plays, but taking 6:12 off the clock. On fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line, Boyle dove across the line, cutting Wartburg's lead to 17-14 with 3:08 left in the third quarter.

On Wartburg's ensuing possession, a defensive holding penalty gave Wartburg a first down on third-and-11. After stopping the Knights on the next two plays, senior Ben Carr (Clinton, Iowa/Prince of Peace) intercepted a Stiefel pass on third-and-nine, returning it 25-yards to the Wartburg 26 yard line.

Sophomore Carvin Thompson (Dallas, Texas/Life Charter) rushed for three yards on first down, but caught a 13-yard pass from Boyle on second down, moving the ball to the Wartburg 10 yard line to end the third quarter. Back-to-back runs by Boyle, including a three-yard score on the second, gave the Kohawks their first lead of the game at 21-17 with 14:22 to play.

In less than three minutes, the Knights went down the field and took the lead on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Stiefel to Helbing. Following an exchange of punts by both teams, the Kohawks took over with 6:57 to play.

After a one-yard Boyle run, he threw a 30-yard pass to Kuehner. Back-to-back runs by Thompson set up a third-and-six, where Boyle found senior Joe Langenberg (Baxter, Iowa/Baxter) for a gain of 28 yards. Facing fourth-and-three from the Wartburg 25 yard line, Boyle completed a three-yard pass to junior Kris Hopkins (Keokuk, Iowa/Keokuk) for the first down. Just two plays later, Boyle found a wide-open Kuehner in the back of the end zone, as Coe took a 27-24 lead.

The Knights wouldn't back down, moving the ball deep inside Kohawk territory. Facing third-and-25, Stiefel found Thompson for a gain of 22-yards before throwing a six-yard pass to Helbing to get the first down. On second-and-one from the Coe 35 yard line, Stiefel was picked off by junior Demetreus Johnson (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Kennedy).

All Boyle had to do was take a knee one time and the Kohawks moved to 2-0 in the Iowa Conference. Boyle finished the day with 17 carries for 76 yards and two rushing touchdowns. He completed 19-of-26 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns. Boyle's two passing touchdowns gave him 51 for his career, moving into second on the school passing charts.

Stiefel had a game-high 329 yards passing and two touchdowns, while completing 24-of-45 passes. Thompson had a game-high 120 yards rushing on 25 carries.

Kuehner finished with a game-high eight receptions for 93 yards. Langenberg added 43 yards on three receptions with Mohs adding 42 yards on two catches. Helbing had a game-high 98 yards on six receptions for Wartburg.

Defensively, Terrance Lockett Jr. (St. Louis, Mo./Desmet Jesuit) led Coe with 13 tackles. Carr added nine, while Jacob Lower (Volga, Iowa/Central Elkader) and Phillip Hale (Plano, Texas/Plano) had seven apiece. Jason Shupp led the Knights with a game-high 15 tackles.

The Kohawks will go on the road once again this week, as they travel to Pella for a 1 p.m. kickoff against the Dutch.

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