The defenses were dominant and the Central College football team found the end zone just once in a frustrating 14-10 Iowa Conference defeat at Simpson College Saturday.
The Dutch offense sprang to life on a 13-play, 68-yard scoring drive at the end of the first half but whatever answers they found in that burst eluded them in the second half. Central (2-3 overall, 0-2 conference) didn't get a second-half first down until just under 13 minutes remained in the fourth quarter. A dangerous Simpson offense that averaged 33.8 points and 432.2 yards in four games was limited to only 274 yards Saturday, but Central mustered only 217.
"We didn't have enough first downs and we didn't make enough plays," coach Jeff McMartin said. "We've got to get better. It's hard to win football games scoring 10 points."
The Dutch defense was especially stingy after allowing Simpson to move 66 yards in nine plays for a touchdown on its opening drive. Meanwhile Central, after being forced to punt on its first four possessions, found its footing on a drive that started at its own 32-yard line with 3:59 left in the second quarter. Running back Josh Osborn (junior, Burlington) was the spark. On third down, he turned a short Aaron Eiseler (junior, Newberg, Ore., Red Mountain, Ariz. HS) pass into a 16-yard gain. One play later Osborn rushed for nine yards and finally Eiseler hit Brendon Boerm (junior, Traer, North Tama HS) on a 4-yard TD pass.
"We passed the ball well and had some runs going," McMartin said of the drive.
Michael Rus (senior, Austin, Texas, Thrall HS) recovered a fumbled punt to give Central a scoring chance at the 15-yard line early in the third quarter, but the Dutch had to settle for a 25-yard Kevin Sheldon (junior, West Des Moines, Valley HS) field goal with 10:18 left. It was Central's only score of the second half.
Central appeared to have an ensuing Simpson march stalled after a fourth-down stop, but a penalty on the tackle gave the Storm another chance. But Simpson was halted at the 14-yard line and cornerback Eric Larson (junior, Waverly, Waverly-Shell Rock HS) blocked a 31-yard field goal try.
Simpson (3-2 overall, 1-1 conference) finally broke through early in the fourth quarter. A penalty on third-and-long gave the Storm a first down at the Central 10 and two plays later quarterback Taylor Nelson had a 2-yard TD toss for a 14-10 lead. The Dutch were in Simpson territory on their next two drives but came up empty.
"I'm proud of the effort the defense gave," McMartin said. "And everyone on the team battled. But we didn't execute at critical times."
Osborn rushed for 88 yards on 19 carries and caught two passes for 22 yards. Grant McArdle (senior, Red Oak, Stanton HS) had five receptions for 54 yards while Boerm caught five balls for 33 yards. Eiseler completed 16 of 32 passes for 145 yards with no interceptions and one touchdown, but was sacked five times.
Simpson ran for 103 yards on 41 carries while Nelson hit on 17 of 27 passes for 171 yards.
The Dutch recorded four sacks, including two by defensive lineman Danny Samson (senior, Baxter, CMB HS). Linebacker Mike Young (senior, Country Club Hills, Ill., Hillcrest HS) had a game-high 12 tackles, including two for loss. Linebacker Mitch Schroeder (junior, Lowden, North Cedar HS) had 11 stops and Larson had eight with one breakup. Safety Jacob Edleman (senior, Mechanicsville, North Cedar HS) had seven tackles, including two for loss while cornerback Jason Breon (senior, Anamosa) and linebacker Zac Miller (sophomore, Kansas City, Mo., Liberty North HS) also had seven stops.
Central returns home to take on Buena Vista Saturday in a 1 p.m. game at Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium.
"We've just got to improve," McMartin said. "We can't quit, but just got to get better."