CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - After a shaky start, the Coe College football team bounced back to beat Central 34-13 in the regular season finale. The win was the 11th-straight, completing Coe's perfect regular season.
Central won the toss and deferred, giving the Kohawks the opportunity to start the game with the ball. After a 29-yard return, sophomore Nicholas Lenstra (Peosta, Iowa/Western Dubuque) fumbled with the Dutch recovering. Central was then forced to take a timeout before snapping the ball and was held to a loss of one yard on the drive, as Kevin Sheldon nailed a 47-yard field goal with 12:38 to play in the first quarter.
On Coe's first offensive play of the game, Central's Jacob Tune intercepted senior Jared McNutt (Warren, Ill./Warren) at the Kohawk 46 yard line. Central gained 18 yards off the second turnover, but were again held to a field goal as Sheldon connected from 44-yards out with 9:50 to play in the first quarter.
The Kohawk offense clicked from that point. After Sheldon's kickoff went through the endzone, the Kohawks went 75-yards on 12 plays. Coe completed a third down and a fourth down on the drive, as senior Brendan Leiran (Waukon, Iowa/Waukon) scored on the final play from eight-yards out, dragging nearly the entire Dutch defense into the endzone with him. Junior Wes Anderson's (Newhall, Iowa/Benton Community) extra point gave the Kohawks a 7-6 lead with 5:24 to play in the opening quarter.
Central pieced together the longest drive of the day after the Kohawk score, as they went 78 yards on 16 plays, using eight minutes of the clock. Being chased by senior Frank Weymiller (New Albin, Iowa/Waukon), Central's Aaron Eiseler found Blaine Forsythe for an eight-yard touchdown pass, giving the Dutch a 13-7 lead with 12:21 to play in the first half.
Coe responded back with a long drive of its own, as it went 76-yards on 15 plays in 7:22. This time around, the Kohawks converted five third downs, with Leiran plunging in from a yard out with 5:03 to play in the half. The extra point failed, leaving the teams tied at 13.
The Kohawk defense forced a Central three-and-out on the ensuing drive. Coe took over at its own 41-yard line and took the lead quickly. In just four plays, the Kohawks went 59 yards for the score. On second-and-eight, McNutt found seniorJared Kuehner (Center Point, Iowa/Center Point-Urbana) for a 14-yard touchdown pass. The touchdown gave Kuehner the score record for receptions in a season with 55 at the time.
Central marched down the field on the first possession of the second half, but Sheldon's 37-yard field goal attempt went wide left. Coe took over a its own 20-yard line. Coe's possession was cut short, as McNutt was intercepted for the third time on the day with 7:08 to play in the third quarter. Coe got the ball back just six plays later, as senior Alex Herink (Clutier, Iowa/North Tama) intercepted Eiseler at the Kohawk 33-yard line.
Facing third-and-14, McNutt found Kuehner for a 47-yard touchdown pass on the eighth play of Coe's drive. Kuehner's second score of the day put the Kohawks ahead 27-13 with 2:09 to play in the third quarter.
On the fifth play of the fourth quarter, Sheldon missed a 29-yard field goal attempt, as it sailed wide right. Coe's next possession was a three-and-out, giving the Dutch the ball back at their own 49 yard line. Central moved to the Kohawk 21 yard line, but a fourth down pass from Eiseler to Norgaard fell short. Coe again had to punt, but got the ball back four plays later. Weymiller sacked Eiseler at the Kohawk 27 yard line, forcing a fumble that he recovered and returned to the Coe 44 yard line. A facemask penalty gave the Kohawks the ball at the Central 41 yard line.
Leiran carried the ball on the first two plays of the drive before sophomore Colin Ferring (Waukon, Iowa/Waukon) took a third-and-three carry 33-yards up the middle to the one yard line. On the next play, Ferring scored from a yard out.
Coe held a 391-337 advantage in total offense, running 19 fewer plays than the Dutch. Coe gained 162 yards on the ground and 229 through the air, while Central had 100 rushing yards and 237 passing. Central held the ball for 35:17, while Coe had it for just 24:43. Coe converted 9-of-13 third downs, while the Dutch were 8-of-19. Coe scored on four trips to the red zone, while Central was 1-of-3.
Leiran had a game-high 25 carries for 112 yards. Ferring added three carries for a career-high 46 yards. McNutt was 20-of-31 passing for 229 yards. Kuehner caught eight passes for 104 yards. Senior Matt Barnd (Marion, Iowa/Marion) caught a career-high four passes for 49 yards, while senior Kris Hopkins (Keokuk, Iowa/Keokuk) caught three passes for 40 yards.
Leiran moved into fourth on the single-season rushing touchdowns list with 18, while he moved to third on the career carries list with 611. Kuehner surpassed Jon Rife's 2005 record of 54 receptions with his 58th of the season. McNutt moved into fourth on the single-season completions list with 180 and sixth with his 20th passing touchdown.
Weymiller led the Kohawk defense with 11 tackles. He added four sacks, tying a career-high and the second most in school history, four and a half tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and six quarterback hurries. SeniorZach West (Tiffin, Iowa/Clear Creek-Amana) added 10 tackles. Senior Demetreus Johnson (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Kennedy) and sophomore Gaetano Tarantino (Valejo, Calif./St. Patrick-St. Vincent) had eight tackles apiece, a career-high for Tarantino. Junior Antoine Allen-Jackson (Aurora, Ill./Oswego East), senior Bryce Sampson (Roland, Iowa/Roland-Story) and junior Jordan Atwater (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Linn-Mar) each added seven tackles.
Recording 18.5 tackles for loss this season, Weymiller moved into third in the school record books. His 11 sacks on the season is the second most in school history. Weymiller now owns the top three single-season sack records at Coe, recording 15.5 in 2009 and 10 in 2010.
The victory gave the Kohawks their 10th undefeated regular season and first since 1993. For the fourth time in school history, the Kohawks have recorded 10 wins, the most by a Coe football team.
Coe will participate in the NCAA Division III Playoffs next Saturday at a site to be determined. The selection show revealing the opponent and location will air on NCAA.com Sunday at 5 p.m.