116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Coe Coach Tyler Staker didn’t have any words to soothe the sting.
The effort was there. Unfortunately for the Kohawks, so were the mistakes and those were too much to overcome
Coe was called for holding in the end zone, resulting in a go-ahead safety and lifting Dubuque to a 15-14 victory Saturday in an American Rivers Conference contest at Clark Field. The setback was the Kohawks’ first conference loss.
“That one hurts,” Staker said. “I told the guys nothing I am going to say can make this feel any better. I’m proud of the way our guys fought. We just left too much on the field.”
The Kohawks were on the verge of coming out on top thanks to a key turnover as the Spartans tried a go-ahead drive of their own. On third-and-goal from the 9, Coe linebacker Jay Oostendorp stripped running back Kallion Buckner with Trey Holub recovering for the Kohawks at the 1 with a 14-13 lead and just 3:40 to play.
“We knew we had to get the ball back,” Oostendorp said. “We knew we couldn’t let them kick a field goal. Our minds were set on punching at the ball. He was holding it on my side and I was able to get a clean, accurate punch at it. We got the ball back. I was just lucky to be there.”
Two rushes resulted in third-and-10 with Coe’s heels on the goal line. The Kohawks expected man coverage and tried to take advantage. The incomplete pass fell and so did a deciding penalty flag. Dubuque gained the lead and the ball for the final possession, melting the final 2:45 off the clock.
“We had our opportunities,” Staker said. “We let it slip away. We need to be more disciplined. We had a lot of mistakes that cost us. We can’t do that.”
The defense kept the Kohawks in the game. Dubuque started six drives on Coe’s side of the field and crossed midfield four more times. The Kohawks limited them to one touchdown and two field goals.
“We’re prepared to make plays in any situation that we’re put in,” Oostendorp said. “Football is pretty unpredictable, so you don’t know what could happen. When we get a short field to defend, we don’t really panic. We just come together stronger.
“By no means did we play a perfect game. They had a couple drives on us. We should have stopped them.”
The first 10 points of the game came off turnovers. An interception gave the Spartans the ball at Coe’s 31 but settled for a 45-yard Liam Smith field goal for a 3-0 lead with 13:18 left in the second quarter. Smith’s 29-yard field goal with 10 minutes remaining in the game pulled Dubuque within one.
Coe fumbled the first play of the next drive and the Spartans scooped it up for a return to the 10. Ben Gultig hit Todd Simmons for a 9-yard TD and 10-0 advantage.
Coe managed a 67-yard scoring drive on 14 plays, resulting in a Rey Seidel 4-yard TD run. The gap closed to three with 6:06 left before halftime.
A missed opportunity right before the break made a difference. Coe faced first-and-goal from the 6 in the final minute. A couple runs moved it to the 1. On third-and-goal, quarterback Carter Maske moved to his right on a sprint pass play. He held on to the ball instead of throwing it away and didn’t stop the clock. Without any timeouts, time expired without a chance to at least tie the score.
“It is an opportunity for us to learn in that moment,” Staker said. “I don’t know if he thought he got out of bounds or not. That’s one that hurts right before half. Obviously, we didn’t get any points. It doesn’t come down to just that one play. We had our chances. We just need to play better football and capitalize when big plays are there to be made.”
Coe took the lead in the third on Maske’s bubble screen to Dominic Shepardson, who stutter-stepped and patiently waited for a lane to emerge and then accelerated 19 yards for a score and 14-10 lead.
Both teams combined for 20 penalties. Coe was flagged 11 times for 90 yards, extending drives and overturning an interception.
The Kohawks play at Loras next week. Staker said it will be crucial to get back to work and learn from this game.
“We need to just keep plugging away,” Staker said. “Keep swinging the hammer.
“There are a lot of things we left on the field that gave them opportunities to win. They ended up coming out on top.”