Central College yielded 416 yards but it was defense that helped preserve a 31-23 football victory over Augustana College (Ill.), its first triumph of the 2011 campaign.
Nursing a 24-16 lead entering the fourth quarter, Dutch defensive back Adam Petz picked off a David Lee pass near midfield and raced 46 yards down the sideline to the Augustana 3. Two plays later, running back Ross Doehrmann bulled his way into the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown.
Augustana responded by marching to the Central 2-yard-line. But on fourth-and-goal, defensive back Jake Petersen dropped Vikings receiver Antonio Owens for no gain with just 7:55 remaining. Augustana was able to reach the end zone one possession later in the final seconds but ran out of time.
That let Central (1-1) rebound from a 31-28 season-opening defeat at Wis.-Oshkosh.
"I thought we did a lot of things better," coach Jeff McMartin said. "Augustana is a good football team that presented a big challenge for us. They were able to get off to a good start and we really had to battle back. But I thought, if anything, we learned how to win and to me, that's a very important thing. You've got to do that every year, you've got to relearn that, and I thought we did that today."
Quarterback Nate Snead again fueled the offense after a slow start, passing for two touchdowns and rushing for another. He completed 12 of 16 passes for 188 yards with no interceptions. He also rushed for 105 yards on 24 carries. Doehrmann gained 52 yards and a score on 22 rushes.
Trailing 7-0 after one quarter, the Dutch used an interception by defensive back Ryan Schmidt to set up their first score, an 8-yard pass from Snead to Brett Wilkin. Wilkin was making his season debut after being sidelined by injury in the opener.
Augustana regained the lead on a 42-yard field goal but a 3-yard Snead TD run with 1:25 left in the first half gave the Dutch a 14-10 advantage at intermission.
Snead struck quickly in the second half, hitting brother Jeremy Snead on a 64-yard scoring pass. Augustana responded with a Lee TD run before freshman Kevin Sheldon booted his first collegiate field goal, a 37-yarder on the final play of the third quarter.
Central finished with 358 yards of total offense, with 170 yards rushing and 188 through the air. Jeremy Snead had four pass receptions for 78 yards.
Schmidt had nine tackles and an interception while linebacker Seth Carson had a career-high nine stops, including a sack. Linebacker Ryan Steinkamp had eight tackles while linebacker Matt Daniels and Petersen had seven tackles. Those were career-best numbers for Steinkamp and Daniels as well.
McMartin said Central's defense got better as the game progressed.
"(Augustana) has a new offensive coordinator and they threw some new things at us," he said. "You've got to have some time to make some adjustments. They didn't just come right out and run everything the same. But we made some adjustments and I thought that helped us a lot. And I thought our guys just became more focused, too."
The Dutch have three more home games in the next four weeks, including next Saturday's Iowa Conference opener with Luther College. The Norse are 0-2 after a 24-13 loss to NAIA William Penn at Decorah Saturday.