The Loras College football team entered their first tally in the win column on Saturday with a convincing 45-21 win over the Simpson College Storm. The victory was also the first of the Iowa Conference season for the Duhawks, who upped their record to 1-2 overall and 1-0 in the league.
After a mostly uneventful first quarter, things looked like they would quickly swing to Simpson after the first play went for six points. Simpson did not snap the ball at the end of the first quarter, electing to let time expire. The Storm used the break to put in a pass play for quarterback Tyson Unkrich. Ben Coy came down with the 35-yard reception for the game's first score.
With one turnover in the books by the Duhawks and the Storm up 7-0, the Duhawks risked falling into the same pattern that doomed them in weeks one and two. Refusing to back down from the challenge, the Duhawks mounted scoring drives on three straight possessions.
Taylor Buhmeyer converted his first field goal of the season and put the Duhawks within four points at 7-3. Back to back defensive stops by the Duhawk defense led to a pair of Gavin Kaiser scores. Kaiser converted a one yard touchdown run and caught a 25-yard pass from Vaughn Gesing. As the second quarter ticked on, the Duhawk watched their lead grow to 17-7 on the heels of the strong defense and consistent offense.
However, the second quarter scoring wasn't nearly over for Loras.
The defense scored their first touchdown on the year when Nick Lloyd stepped in front of an Unkrich pass up the Simpson sidelines. Lloyd was in the clear after the quick route went awry and the junior crossed the Simpson goal line untouched.
A short Simpson drive allowed the Duhawks another chance to score before the half. Beau Evans converted a 4-yard run to end a seven play drive and Loras went into the half with a healthy 31-7 lead.
Gavin Kaiser added another touchdown out of the "Beast" package in the third quarter for his third of the game and John Blesz won a wrestling match in the corner of the end zone on a Vaughn Gesing pass for the final touchdown for Loras halfway through the fourth quarter.
The stat sheet was full of production at every skill position, including the running game, which was averaging only a couple of yards per carry through two games and limited touches. A one-two punch of Evans and Johnny Jackson emerged in the Iowa Conference opener. Evans rushed 21 times for 76 yards and Jackson carried the ball 17 times for 98 yards.
Gesing finished the day 13-of-24 for 192 yards and two touchdowns. Gesing's two interceptions came on a screen pass and a receiver's deflection. He completed passes to six different receivers. His favorite on Saturday was John Ingersoll, who caught five passes for 71 yards.
Kaiser added a 51 yard kickoff return to help the special teams. Eric Meyer made several tackles in kick coverage.
The McCormick brothers combined on the only sack of Unkrich on the day, who was under regular pressure in the pocket. Zach Myers nearly had Loras' second pick-six of the day with his second quarter interception which led to Evan's score late in the first half.
Unkrich finished with 119 yards in the air on 11 completions, two of which went for touchdowns. He also led the team with 58 yards rushing. Ben Coy had 71 yards receiving and a touchdown. The Storm's final score came from backup quarterback Chris Garza, who scrambled in from two yards with four seconds remaining in the game.
At halftime, six former student-athletes were introduced to the Loras faithful as the newest members of the Hall of Fame. Bob Bertsch, Troy Cicero, Kim (Kiner) Jacobsen, Bob Naughton, Mike McDermott, and John Duffy made up the 2009 class.
Loras now preps for their Homecoming 2009 game with Wartburg College. The third consecutive home game for the Duhawks will kickoff at 1:00 PM in the Rock Bowl. The Knights defeated Cornell in their first IIAC game of the season and are 2-1 entering week number four of the season.
The game can once again be heard locally on AM 1490 WDBQ and viewed live on duhawks.com by clicking on the "Loras Live" icon in the lower right side of the page. Live stats are also available during the game from the same link.