CEDAR RAPIDS — At times, the Coe offense showed promise.
For stretches, the Kohawk defense was stingy.
Getting both sides to play well at the same time, however, proved to be a challenge.
Dubuque’s Sean Duffy threw for 214 yards and three touchdowns Saturday, leading the Spartans to a 27-18 victory over the Kohawks in American Rivers Conference play at Clark Field.
“We need to find a way to put all these pieces together and play football for four quarters,” Coe Coach Tyler Staker said. “We need to improve consistent play on both sides of the ball. We need to play better on special teams.”
Attribute it to a mix of Dubuque’s ability and Coe’s inability.
“It’s a combination of both,” Staker said. “Dubuque is a good team, is well coached and has some good athletes. They took some things away from us that we felt we would be able to do. At the same time, I felt we were inconsistent.”
Coe (1-2, 0-1 A-R-C) started well offensively, earning a brief lead with scores on the first two drives.
Tristan Connell connected on a 38-yard field goal to put Coe on the board. Cody Russell gave the Kohawks a 10-6 edge with 12:05 to go before halftime. Russell, who scored his fourth touchdown in two games, bulled his way in from the 1.
“We were competing,” Staker said. “We were in it.”
The rest of the half was all Dubuque. Duffy hit Karletty Faamatuainu for a 22-yard TD pass — the pair’s second connection of the half — and 12-10 advantage.
The Spartans’ most crucial score came with 22 seconds left before half. Dubuque won the field-position battle, pinning Coe on its own 1 and then returning the ensuing punt to the Kohawk 39. Dwayne Allen Jr. capped the 2:42 drive with a 2-yard TD run, finishing with 106 yards overall.
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Dubuque (2-1, 1-0) thrived on third down in the first half, converting 4 of 5 chances that prolonged two of the first-half scoring drives.
“I felt we had made some progress at times and did some things well in the first half,” Staker said. “We just weren’t all on the same page.”
The Kohawks defense played better in the second half, forcing a turnover on downs and two punts in the first four Dubuque drives after the break. The defense even caused and recovered a goal-line fumble, setting up a last-ditch drive, trailing by nine with 1:48 remaining.
Unfortunately, Coe’s offense went stagnant, managing two 3-and-outs and punting on its first four second-half drives. The only exception was an 86-yard, 19-play drive capped by Quentin White’s 8-yard TD pass to Trevor Noble with 5:38 to go in the fourth.
“When we were moving the ball offensively, we were struggling defensively,” Staker said. “Then the defense came out in the second half and forced them to punt to start the second half but offensively we couldn’t get anything rolling.”
Two former Linn-Mar preps contributed to the Spartans’ conference-opening victory. Linebacker Logan Benter ranked among the team leaders with five tackles. Defensive back Josh Strauss added four stops and snagged an interception to seal the win with 25 seconds left.
“I didn’t think I was going to get to it,” Strauss said about the late turnover. “We put in a ton of time this offseason. Camp was really tough. To come out here, make a play like that and get the win just really meant a lot.”
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