CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The Coe College defense forced a school-record nine turnovers on Saturday, as the 16th-ranked Kohawks beat 21st-ranked Monmouth 21-14 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Monmouth struck first, scoring on a 69-yard touchdown pass on the first play of their second possession of the game on a pass from Tanner Matlick to Jacolby Maxwell. The lead stood until late in the first half. With 5:07 to play, Gavin Glenn (Adel, Iowa/ADM) found Tyler Gunderson (Marion, Iowa/Marion) for a six-yard touchdown pass. A point-after by Abbas evened the score at 7-7. Coe would force two more turnovers in the final 5:07, but couldn't score off either one.
The turnovers continued in the second half, as the Fighting Scots fumbled the second half kickoff. After a gain of 11 yards on first down by Trevor Heitland (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Kennedy), Coe turned the ball over on downs at the Monmouth 25 yard line. Coe failed to turn an interception by Andrew Johnson (Hiawatha, Iowa/Kennedy) into points, but a second interception by Johnson on the next drive gave Coe the lead for good. Following the pick by Johnson, Glenn found Daniel Vega (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Xavier) for a nine-yard touchdown pass. The first career touchdown reception for Vega was the school record-setter for Glenn with his 26th of the season. Abbas gave Coe a 14-7 lead with the PAT with 3:30 to play in the third quarter.
Late in the third quarter, Coe forced a Monmouth punt. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Heitland rushed 46 yards untouched up the middle for a touchdown. Abbas gave Coe a 21-7 lead with 1:26 to play in the third quarter. Monmouth moved deep into Coe territory, but an interception in the end zone by Rory Siddell (Solon, Iowa/Solon) ended the scoring threat. After a Kohawk punt, the Fighting Scots went to work quickly. Monmouth went 76 yards in just four plays, taking 1:05 off the clock before Matlick found Alec Dutko for a seven-yard touchdown pass with 6:51 to play.
Coe took nearly five minutes off the clock on the next drive, but turned the ball over on downs with 1:55 to play at the Monmouth 33 yard line. Monmouth wasted no time moving into Kohawk territory. The Fighting Scots converted a pair of third downs before a 15-yard gain on fourth and 10 at the Kohawk 40 with :52 to play. After an incomplete pass on first down, Matlick was sacked by Ryan Leonard(Center Junction, Iowa/Midland) with :34 remaining. After an incomplete pass on third-and-20, the Fighting Scots were called for illegal touching on the final play that sealed the Kohawk victory. The win was the third playoff win in school history and first since Coe beat fourth-ranked St. John's in the first round in 2009.
Heitland had another career day, rushing 50 times for a career-high 251 yards. It was the 10th most rushing yards in a game and the second most carries, only behind his 51 against Dubuque earlier this year. The previous school record was 42 by Carey Bender. His 55 all-purpose attempts were the most in school history. Heitland moved into third in school history with 293 carries. Heitland moved into 10th on the career rushing list with 2,041 yards, while becoming the fifth player in school history to have 2,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving. Heitland also moved into second on the single-season rushing yards list with 1,870.
Glenn was 12-of-26 passing for 72 yards, including two touchdown passes. Glenn moved into ninth on Coe's career completions (237) and passing touchdowns (32) list. Glenn is also seventh on the single-season completions list with 176 and ninth on the single-season passing yards list with 2,316. Heitland caught four passes for 19 yards, while Mitchell Malloy (Riverside, Ill./Riverside-Brookfield) had three receptions for 12 yards. Vega, a defensive tackle, had two receptions for 15 yards.
Leonard had seven tackles, while Johnson and Drew Heitland (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Kennedy) had six apiece. Siddell, Robbie Peters (Mount Vernon, Iowa/Mount Vernon), Dylan Stepleton (Tipton, Iowa/Wilton) and Austin Troendle (Waukon, Iowa/Waukon) each had five tackles. Terrence Hall (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Kennedy) and D. Heitland each forced a fumble, while D. Heitland, Nick Elsbury (Byron, Ill./Byron) and Tait Simpson (Lisbon, Iowa/Lisbon) all recovered a fumble. Simpson recovered two fumbles. Coe's four fumble recoveries are tied for the most in school history.
Johnson had a pair of interceptions, with Siddell, Stepleton and Troendle each having a pick. Stepleton moved into a tie for second in single-season school history with his ninth pick of the year, while moving into fifth on the career list with 14. Coe's five interceptions are tied for the second-most in school history. D. Heitland had three quarterback hurries, as he set a school record with 20 on the season.
Coe had 263 yards rushing to Monmouth's 53. The Fighting Scots outgained Coe 369-72 in the air. Monmouth finished with 422 yards on 74 plays, while Coe had 335 yards on 83 plays. The Kohawks had the ball for 35:31 to Monmouth's 24:29.
The Kohawks set a school record with their 11th victory of the season. Coe will face third-ranked St. Thomas (11-0) in the second round of the NCAA Playoffs. An official announcement on the location and time of the game will be made on Sunday. The game will be played next Saturday. A link for live video and stats will be available at CoeAthletics.com when it is available.