RIVER FALLS, Wis. - There might be a new man calling the defensive plays for the Kohawks this year, but one thing remained the same in the opener. The Dark Side came to play, forcing five turnovers in a 13-9 win over Wisconsin-River Falls.
Coe College was playing its first game since the retirement of longtime defensive coordinator Larry Atwater, but the defense stayed the course under new defensive coordinator Nick Schroder. The Kohawks intercepted three passes and recovered a pair of fumbles in the win.
The Kohawks punted after moving into Falcon territory on the first possession of the game. The Falcons didn't have the ball for long, as Scott Michalek (Victor, Iowa/HLV) intercepted Sawyer Moon's pass and returned it to the Wisconsin-River Falls 13-yard line. A sack and a penalty pushed the Kohawks back before Tristan Connell (Camanche, Iowa/Prince of Peace)'s 40-yard field goal attempt was blocked.
Coe put the first points on the scoreboard on the first play of the second quarter. Demetrius Harper (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Prairie) caught a pass on the sideline from Zach Andre (Antioch, Ill./Antioch) and raced 74 yards to the endzone, giving Coe a 6-0 lead with 14:49 to play in the first quarter. The PAT was blocked. Two possessions later, the Falcons tied the game on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Travon Hearns to T. Halverson. Wisconsin-River Falls missed the PAT, leaving the game tied 6-6 with 8:30 left in the first half.
After punting on their next possession, the Kohawks got the ball back as Drew Heitland (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Kennedy) recovered a fumble at the Falcon 32-yard line. Coe had the ball for just three plays, as Andre was picked off at the Falcon 18-yard line. With :20 left in the half, Angel Bautista hit a 26-yard field goal to give Wisconsin-River Falls a 9-6 lead at the half.
On the third play of the second half, Logan Rickard (Lisbon, Iowa/Lisbon) intercepted a pass at the Falcon nine-yard line. Three-plays later, Mitch Stopko (Tiffin, Iowa/Clear Creek-Amana) scored on a sweep. Connell's kick was good, as Coe took the 13-9 lead with 13:15 to play in the third quarter.
Late in the third quarter, the Kohawks blocked a 42-yard field goal attempt by Bautista, as Daniel Vega (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Xavier) got a paw on it. Coe forced another turnover early in the fourth quarter, as Kentrel Smith (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Prairie) recovered a fumble with 11:17 to play. Coe appeared to have sealed the victory late in the fourth quarter, as the Falcons threw an incomplete pass on fourth and 10 from the Kohawk 14-yard line, but Coe was called for holding, giving Wisconsin-River Falls a fresh set of downs.
Two plays later, Dalton Shadle (Morning Sun, Iowa/Mediapolis) intercepted a pass at the Kohawk three-yard line to seal the victory. The win was the 12th-straight regular season victory for the Kohawks. The win was the first for the Kohawks while scoring 14 points or less since beating Washington University in St. Louis 10-0 in 2013.
The Kohawks had 37 yards rushing on 37 carries, while the Falcons ran for 171 yards on 42 carries. Coe had 148 yards passing, while Wisconsin-River Falls had 169 yards in the air. The Kohawks had 185 yards on 64 plays, while the Falcons had 340 yards on 85 plays. The Falcons held a 33:48-26:12 advantage in time of possession. Coe was 3-for-16 on third downs, while the Falcons were 5-of-19.
Tyler Dralle (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Kennedy) led the Kohawks with 28 yards rushing on 15 carries. Tyler Schamel (Norwalk, Iowa/Norwalk) had 15 yards on two carries, while Tino Green (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Jefferson) rushed three times for 13 yards.
Andre was 9-of-27 passing for 148 yards. Schamel led the team with four receptions for 24 yards. Harper caught three passes for 106 yards.
Shadle led the defense with 11 tackles while having half a tackle for loss and an interception. Terrence Hall (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Kennedy) and Jacob Elsbury (Byron, Ill./Byron) each had nine tackles, while Hall had half a tackle for loss and two pass breakups. Smith had seven tackles, including one for a loss, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and three pass breakups.
The Kohawks (1-0) return to action next Saturday, as they host Linn County Rival Cornell (1-0) at Clark Field. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. A link to live video and live stats is available at CoeAthletics.com.