Still in search of its first 2011 road win, the Central College football team must play three of the season's final four games away from home.
That starts Saturday with a trip to Loras College at Dubuque. Game time is 1 p.m. at the Rock Bowl.
Central (4-2 overall, 3-1 Iowa Conference) overcame a 16-point deficit to escape Buena Vista University 33-30 at Pella last Saturday and move into a four-way tie for the league lead. Loras (1-4 overall, 0-3 conference) is coming off its bye week.
On the air/cyberspace— Trevor Castle will call the play-by-play of Saturday's game on KRLS-FM (92.1) and the broadcast can also be accessed through Central's website atwww.central.edu/athletics or throughwww.kniakrls.com.
KRLS radio also airs the Coaches' Corner featuring Dutch coach Jeff McMartin at Applebee's restaurant in Pella each Monday night at 7 p.m. The show can be accessed online, either live or via podcast.
The series—Central has won its last two meetings with Loras, including a 27-6 victory at Pella last year. The Dutch lead the all-time series, which started in 1932, 27-5.
The Duhawks—Loras ranks second in the league in total defense, yielding 363.8 yards per game. Senior linebacker Zach Meyers ranks fifth in tackles with 10.2 per game while sophomore defensive back Dave Pirkle is the league leader in pass breakups with eight and has two interceptions.
"They've got just about everyone back from last year on defense," coach Jeff McMartin said. "They play hard and are very physical. They present a great challenge."
The Duhawk offense is built around junior running back Devin Kass, who leads the conference with 104.2 yards per game. Senior quarterback Vaughn Gesing has completed 54 of 112 passes for 760 yards with five touchdowns and seven interceptions. Senior Gavin Kaiser has 16 receptions for 316 yards and three scores.
"(Kass) is a very talented runner," McMartin said. "They do a lot of different things in the running game, giving you different reads. Their quarterback is very experienced. He's a great leader for them."
McMartin said the Duhawks benefit from having a bye last week.
"Buena Vista had two weeks to get ready for us and Loras has the same situation," he said. "They'll come out hungry and well prepared."
A great escape—Central's 33-30 win over Buena Vista Saturday was both perplexing and remarkable. The teams combined for 43 second-quarter points, then were both shut out in the third quarter. Central trailed 16-0 and 30-14 in the first half and was still down 30-20 until 12:56 remained in the fourth quarter when freshman kicker Kevin Sheldon (West Des Moines, Valley HS) booted a career-long 40-yard field goal. Sheldon's 19-yard field goal with 2:21 left won it.
Running back Josh Osborn (freshman, Burlington), who broke free on a 62-yard touchdown reception against Coe Oct. 1, raced 54 yards with a TD Saturday. His role continues to expand.
"Josh is making a lot of really good plays," McMartin said. "(S-back) Preston West (senior, Swisher, Cedar Rapids Prairie HS) continues to improve and (running back) Ross Doehrmann (junior, Williamsburg) is running well. All three complement each other. They make a nice combination."
Meanwhile linebacker Seth Carson (junior, Woodridge, Ill., Downers Grove South HS) had a bit of a breakout performance with 11 tackles, including 2.5 for loss, and two interceptions. Central had just three interceptions as a team entering the day.
"We need Seth to come through for us," McMartin said. "He did a great job of making tackles Saturday and created a big spark. He brings a lot of football knowledge with him on the field and is playing well. We feel like he's got still another gear, so we're going to keep pushing and help him continue to improve."
Dutch numbers—Central ranks first in the Iowa Conference in rushing offense (211.5 yards per game), rushing defense (113.0), sacks (19) and lowest opponent third-down conversion percentage (34.4, 33-96). Central is second in scoring (32.5 points per game).
Quarterback Nate Snead (senior, Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) is second in total offense (290.7 yards), third in rushing (102.3 yards) and tied for third in scoring (9.0 yards). He's rushed for more than 100 yards in four of six games. Preston Roberts (senior, Bloomfield, Davis County HS) is second in punting yardage (38.7) and receiver Mike Furlong (senior, Davenport, Assumption HS) is third in kick return yardage (21.4).
Heading into last week's game with Buena Vista, Snead ranked 21st in the NCAA Division III in total offense, while Roberts ranked 25th in punting. Receiver Brett Wilkin (senior, Pleasant Hill, Southeast Polk HS) ranked 25th in punt returns (13.4 yards).
Notes—Last year Central scored 27 or more points in its first nine games. The Dutch have done so in all six games thus far in 2011 and in 25 of their last 27 games overall…A win Saturday would assure Central of at least a .500 finish, extending its streak of seasons without a losing record to 51…Three of Central's six games have been decided by three points.