For the first time since 2008, the Buena Vista football team can reach four straight victories with on Saturday inside of J. Leslie Rollins Stadium against visiting Simpson College (5-3, 3-2 IIAC). The Beavers haven’t won four straight at any point since topping Simpson, Dubuque, Wartburg and Loras to begin IIAC play that season.
BVU (3-5, 3-2 IIAC) comes in following a thrilling 14-7 come-from-behind home win over Luther College a week ago, extending the streak to three and also defeating the Norse for the first time since 2006. The Norse led 7-0 entering the final quarter before a 93-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Bobby Brown (Storm Lake, Iowa/Storm Lake) to freshman wide-out Jalen Henningsen (Alta, Iowa/Alta-Aurelia) early in the final frame followed by a late three-yard touchdown plunge from senior John Hill (Webster City, Iowa/Webster City) gave the Beavers their first lead. Despite a late Luther drive, BVU came up with a stop on fourth down and hung on for the win.
“We did a lot of good things against Luther, despite the low score,” says head coach Jay Anderson. “The guys really hung in there from start to finish and continued to be physical on both sides.”
Simpson, meanwhile, has now dropped back-to-back outings to Coe (47-7) and Dubuque (45-40), respectively, to fall back into a four-way tie for second with the Beavers, Central and Wartburg. The Storm trailed 38-6 midway through the third quarter against the Spartans on Saturday before a late-game rally came up just short.
Saturday’s meeting will be the final home game for BVU this season and for the senior class. A win by the Beavers would assure the team of a winning Iowa Conference season for the first time since finishing 6-2 in 2008 and also mark its fourth straight home victory over the Storm (the home team has won each of the last six meetings in the series).
Both secondaries will be put to the test, as Simpson comes in as one of the best passing teams in the league, averaging nearly 300 yards per game through the air during conference play, while BVU is chalking up 215 per game. Defensively, the two teams have combined to allow more than an average of 500 yards through the air.
“They are definitely a scary team offensively,” says Anderson. “They have some good weapons and their quarterback runs their system well. We’ll have to make sure to keep everyone in front of us, defensively.”
That quarterback Anderson is referring to is Taylor Nelson, who has completed nearly 62 percent of his attempts this season for 2,494 yards and 20 touchdowns. More than half of those completions have gone to either Brad Vogel, who leads the way with 55 catches for 831 yards and eight touchdowns, or Taylor Rogers, who has hauled in 52 passes for 807 yards and nine scores. Both are ranked in the top-25 nationally in receiving yards per game, with Vogel also third in all-purpose yards.
On the ground, the Storm rank last in the league, averaging 101 yards per games. Over their last two games against the Kohawks and Spartans, respectively, though, the team has combined to rush for only 118. Tyler Kenny’s 52 rushes for 225 yards lead the way on the year with Ethan Calvert next with 43 carries and 180 yards, including three scores.
BVU has focused on balancing its running and passing games as of late, and during its three-game win streak, it is averaging 247 yards through the air and another 120 on the ground. Brown is completing better than 55 percent of his pass attempts during that span for 742 yards and five scores. Senior wide-out Logan Lehrkamp (Carroll, Iowa/Carroll) has hauled in a team-leading 30 catches on the year for 445 yards and three scores. Fellow senior Bo Darrow (Glenwood, Iowa/Glenwood) is next with 18 grabs and 283 yards, including one TD. Henningsen has only seven catches on the year, but two of those have been touchdown grabs of 86 and 93 yards. Senior Gunnar Wyatt (Story City, Iowa/Roland Story) also came up big in the win against the Norse, matching his career-high with eight catches, including a big 17-yard grab down to the three yard-line, setting up the Beavers’ final score.
Hill and sophomore Dylan Barrett (Harlan, Iowa/Harlan) have given the ground game a solid one-two punch as of late, with each averaging nearly 60 yards per game over the last three. They will face a Simpson defense that is ranked fourth during league play against the run, averaging 131 yards per contest.
“Their (Simpson) front four are really good at putting together a nice pass rush,” adds Anderson. “It’s a very active group and we’ll have to go out and be physical and own the line of scrimmage.”
Defensively, the Beavers have eight sacks and 26 tackles for a loss the last three weeks, while also intercepting five passes and forcing two fumbles. Senior Nick Plueger (Le Mars, Iowa/Le Mars) has helped lead that charge with a league and NCAA Division III best 14.1 tackles per game, as junior Brady Randall (Storm Lake, Iowa/Alta) is second on the team, third in the league, and 35th nationally, averaging 10.5. Randall also has posted a team-best 7.5 tackles for loss. Collin Mann (Logan, Iowa/Logan-Magnolia) has a team-leading three interceptions with freshman Kyle Arnold (Johnston, Iowa/Johnston) and junior Mason Nielsen (Central City, Iowa/Central City) next with two.
For the Storm, Mark Cronin has registered 53 total stops, including six for a loss to lead the way. Grant Focht is next with 41 and is tied for the team lead with five pass break-ups. Johnnie Sims has 27 total tackles, but eight of those have been for a loss, including 5.5 for a loss. Scott Vierow has a team-high 6.5 sacks and only 25 total stops.
“A win would be huge,” says Anderson. “We want to keep our streak going and we want to send the seniors out with a win in their last home game.”
Kick-off between the two teams is set for 1:00pm. A local radio broadcast will be available on 97.5FM KBVU A live video webstream can also be found at http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/bvu.portal#
Check out photos of our student-athletes in action in the Beaver sports photo galleries.