Small College Sports

Mistakes hamper Coe football in season-opening loss

Kohawks commit 6 turnovers in 26-7 setback to Augustana (Ill.)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Coe Coach Tyler Staker’s message was clear after the Kohawks’ season opener.

He didn’t want his players to forget it. He didn’t want them to dwell on it either.

“We need to learn from this,” Staker said. “We need to get better going into next week.”

Not much else needed to be said after the Kohawks committed six turnovers and managed just 18 rushing yards and one score in a 26-7 loss to Augustana (Ill.) Saturday in a college football contest at Clark Field.

“I told them we need to get better in every facet of the game,” Staker said. “We need to improve on offense, taking care of the football and rushing the football. I think there were a couple big plays we gave up defensively that we need to do a better job there.”

Augustana (1-0) got on the board with two field goals from Ryan Ganson, hitting from 40 and 43 yards. The Vikings parlayed one of the Kohawk miscues into a lead they did not surrender.

David Lane intercepted Coe quarterback Quentin White, returning it to Coe’s 18. Four plays later Zach Fuller hit Ethan Jennings for an 11-yard touchdown pass and 13-0 lead with 11:42 left in the first half.

The short drive was one of five the Vikings started inside Coe territory, including a late 37-yard drive capped by Ryan Pitra’s 35-yard TD run on fourth-and-8 to cap the scoring with 1:53 left. Pitra finished with 148 yards rushing.

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Coe’s defense limited the damage overall, despite having to protect short fields and getting little rest between series.

“I thought they played tough,” Staker said of the defense. “They were put in some adverse situations.

“It’s just too bad they got the one on us late because I felt they played a good game.”

Goal line stands helped the Kohawks remain in the game. The first came right before halftime. The Vikings ran four plays inside the Coe 4, but were turned away when linebacker Terrence Hall dropped Pitra for one of his team-high 10 tackles on fourth-and-goal from the 1 with 12 seconds left in the second quarter. The stop kept the Kohawks within 13-7 at the break.

The second came with less than six minutes remaining. Coe stopped three plays inside its 5-yard line and forced a missed field goal, leaving it a two-score game late.

“It shows we have toughness,” Coe lineman Daniel Vega said. “We have to do it before we get our backs against the wall. I think we’re more than capable of doing it.”

White threw for 294 yards and hit Matt Kopp for a 34-yard TD pass with 9:43 left in the second quarter. Augustana picked White off three times and forced three fumbles. The Vikings had two interceptions all of last season and tallied just eight total turnovers in 2017.

“We need to make smart decisions,” Staker said. “We need to just do a better job of taking care of the ball and making that an emphasis.”

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The offensive positive came from receiver Trevor Noble. The senior and former Linn-Mar prep had 106 yards on seven catches, including a 44-yard gain.

“I’m the lone senior out of the receiver group, so I just look to lead,” Noble said. “It’s just doing it by example. This is my fourth year out here and I just want to come out here and give it my all.”

Coe plays rival Cornell next week at Ash Park in Mount Vernon, starting at 7 p.m. The Kohawks will return to work with film on Sunday and start correcting things on the field Tuesday.

“We have to get better, doing our assignments,” Vega said. “A few missed assignments cost us big here and there.

“It actually starts tomorrow when we watch film. We’ll see what we did wrong and improve off that and Tuesday we go get after Cornell.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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