Central College seemingly couldn't get a stop in the second half but the Dutch got the one that counted in a wild 32-25 Iowa Conference football triumph at Buena Vista University Saturday.
Central free safety Jacob Edleman (senior, Mechanicsville, North Cedar HS) picked off his second pass of the day—and his league-leading seventh of the year--at his own 5-yard line with just 43 seconds left to finally settle the issue.
That lifts Central (7-2 overall, 5-1 conference) into sole possession of second place in the league while Buena Vista (6-3 overall, 4-2 conference) dropped its second straight after a 4-0 conference start.
Running back Josh Osborn (senior, Burlington) helped fuel another productive day for the Central offense with 173 yards on 27 carries with a pair of touchdowns. He's topped the 100-yard mark in nine of his last 10 games. Meanwhile, quarterback Aaron Eiseler (senior, Mesa, Ariz., Red Mountain HS) was an efficient 22-of-35 for 212 yards and two scores, with surging freshman receiver Sam Markham (Atlantic) snagging 11 passes for 96 yards.
But the Dutch saw a 21-0 first-half lead vanish in the icy winds off nearby Storm Lake. Riding the red-hot arm of senior quarterback Bobby Brown, Buena Vista used three straight second-half touchdown drives to grab a 25-24 lead with just 7:45 remaining. But the Beavers, who had earlier failed on two point-after drives, had two shots at a two-point conversion, thanks to a Central penalty, but came up empty.
That gave the Dutch a lift, although not nearly as much of a boost as Central's ensuing nine-play, 74-yard go-ahead touchdown drive. Limited to just a 37-yard Kevin Sheldon (senior, West Des Moines, Valley HS) field goal in the first 25 minutes of the second half, Central's offense came to life. A 17-yard Osborn run, a 13-yard Markham catch and an 11-yard dash on a wildcat keeper by Brendon Boerm (senior, Traer, North Tama HS) highlighted the drive that was completed with Osborn muscling his way for a yard into the end zone. Central stretched its advantage to seven points when Eiseler hit Taylor Cox (junior, Pella) for the 2-point conversion with 3:49 remaing.
"That definitely switched the momentum back and gave everyone a lot more spirit and a great feeling on the sideline," Coach Jeff McMartin said.
But there was still more than enough time for Buena Vista to return the favor. The Beavers' previous two touchdown drives consumed just over 2 minutes. The difference on the last possession, though, was the Dutch defense.
"It was a great series for us," McMartin said. "We got some pressure on (Brown) but yet we did a good job in coverage."
And Edleman delivered as he has throughout a breakout senior season.
"Without a doubt, he was the best safety out there and one of the best in the nation," McMartin said. "I hate to overdo it but he's pretty special. He's doing an awesome job."
Edleman also had eight tackles. Linebackers Jessie Peterson (sophomore, Coralville, Iowa City West HS) and Drew Carlson (sophomore, Ankeny) each had nine stops for the Dutch. Carlson also had an interception while defensive lineman Dustin Smith (junior, Marion, Linn-Mar HS) had six tackles, including two sacks and three tackles for loss.
Osborn's big day pushed him over the 1,000-yard mark for the year. He's gained 1,030 yards in nine games (114.4 yards per game) and 2,918 for his career, ranking fifth in school history.
"Josh did a great job of running the football and the line did an awesome job," McMartin said. "What Josh has done really well this year is the yards after contact. He gets hit and he still gets you 2, 3, 4 more yards and sometimes even more. Sometimes you think he's bottled up and he still finds a way. That's what special backs do."
Brown completed 23 of 34 passes for 318 yards and two TDs for Buena Vista, but was picked off three times.
"We knew Bobby Brown is a great quarterback," McMartin said. "He did what he's done all year. He got it to his playmakers and they do have some playmakers. They've got a great running back and wide receivers and their tight end made some great catches down the stretch. They played well."
But McMartin said Buena Vista's offense was able to catch fire when the Dutch offense slowed.
"We weren't able to stay on the field as an offense and you can't do that against these guys," McMartin said. "In the first half we were able to stay on the field. But the tide kind of turned."
But the Dutch ultimately had an answer.
"Our guys never gave up," McMartin said. "They stayed together and they played with passion. I thought our guys played really hard today, offensively, defensively and on special teams. Even when we didn't always make the play, our guys played really hard today and that's something I'm really proud of."
Central completes the 2014 campaign with its sixth home game, taking on the University of Dubuque in a 2 p.m. contest at Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium. The Spartans are 4-5 overall and 3-3 in the league after holding off Coe College Saturday, 29-27.