Coe forced to regroup after 38-33 loss to Simpson

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CEDAR RAPIDS — They haven’t been here in awhile, so your guess is as good as anyone’s how the Coe Kohawks react moving forward.

This could be the beginning of the end of their 2017 football season. Or this could be the old kick in the pants, the point where they become resolute.

Time will tell.

“We’re not used to this, so it’s going to be a challenge for our young men to try and bounce back,” head coach Tyler Staker admitted Saturday afternoon, after his team’s 38-33 loss to Simpson at the sauna known as Clark Field. “It’s going to be a test to see how they respond. How do you bounce back from adversity? What type of team are we? What are we made of when things don’t necessarily go our way? We’ll see this week in practice.”

Coe ran the table until the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs last season. This ended an 11-game regular-season win streak and was no fluke.

Simpson was just a tad better in about every statistical category, five points better on the scoreboard.

“They’re a good football team,” Staker said. “They made plays when they needed to make plays. Give Simpson credit. They came in here and played hard.”

The Storm (2-2, 1-1 Iowa Conference) stormed to a 14-0 lead after a quarter and led late in the second, 21-7. Sophomore quarterback Quentin White, making his second start because of an injury to senior Zach Andre, threw two touchdown passes in the final 2:34 of the first half to bring Coe back, including one to his twin brother, Colton.

The extra-point attempt to tie it going to halftime spanked off the left upright.

Running back Tyler Dralle’s 23-yard TD run late in the third quarter gave Coe (3-1, 1-1) a 27-24 lead, but Simpson put together a drive early in the fourth punctuated by Cam Bunting’s 1-yard touchdown plunge. The Storm converted three third downs on the march, a theme on this day.

Simpson was 9 of 15 in that department in the game.

“That was one of the things we talked about, one of our keys to victory,” Staker said. “We felt like on third down we had to make sure and get off the field on defense and extend drives on offense. Because we knew it was going to be a hot, long, grind-it-out day.”

Simpson’s defense stuffed a 4th-and-1 Coe run attempt for no gain with eight minutes left, then drove for a touchdown that put the game away, 38-27, with 1:40 left. There were two more third-down conversions in that drive, including one on 3rd-and-16.

Quentin White scored on a 7-yard scramble with 32 seconds left, but Coe’s two-point conversion attempt failed, as did its attempt to recover an ensuing onsides kick. White threw for an even 300 yards.

Simpson QB Sam Sasso went 27 for 37 passing for 340 yards and four TDs. Coe plays next week against Wartburg.

“We’ve been put in the fire, so we’re going to see how we come out,” said Coe defensive lineman Robbie Peters. “We’ve got to fix some things, we’ve got to work on tackling. We’ve just got to focus on the fundamentals. We played really poorly in those areas. Fundamentals, fix our secondary, fix some coverage responsibilities, stuff like that. Communicate better. There was a little miscommunication there on the field. We’ve just got to come together as a team. Us seniors and captains, we’re going to try and lead our team in the way that we need to go. Help the younger guys, pick them up. Play better. Just play better.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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