INDIANOLA, Iowa – It came down to one play, and for the first time in recent memory, the ending wasn't what the Simpson football team had in mind.
On the final play of the game, quarterback Bobby Brown escaped a blitz and scrambled into the end zone from 4 yards out as time expired to give Buena Vista an improbable, 34-32 win over Simpson on Saturday afternoon.
The loss, coupled with Wartburg's 16-14 win over Central, knocked Simpson out of first place in the league standings with one game left in the regular season.
"It's tough, there's no doubt about it," head coach Jim Glogowski said. "It stings. It's as tough of a loss as we've had in a long time."
The scramble by Brown capped an 8-play, 80-yard drive that took just 41 seconds as Buena Vista won its third game in a row after an 0-6 start. Just seconds earlier, Simpson took a 32-28 lead on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Taylor Nelson to Ryan Olson.
The script appeared to be playing out as it had in three of Simpson's last four wins, when the team overcame deficits in the fourth quarter or overtime.
"We've been on the other side of this several times, so I know how that feels," Glogowski said. "Now that we're on this side, it doesn't feel very good. But it was a whale of a football game."
Nelson went 28-for-53 for 324 yards and three touchdowns and Michael Chia ran for a career-high 124 yards for the Storm (6-3, 4-2 Iowa Conference), who saw a four-game winning streak come to a close.
Brown threw for 377 yards and three touchdowns and Jalen Henningsen caught seven passes for 193 yards and two scores for the Beavers (3-6, 3-3), who won in Indianola for the first time since 1987.
Just as it did a week ago, Simpson had to come back from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter to even be in a position to win.
Simpson went into halftime with a 17-14 lead, but a 78-yard touchdown catch by Henningsen in the third quarter and a 10-yard scoring run by Dylan Barrett early in the fourth gave Buena Vista a 28-17 lead.
After a 17-yard touchdown pass from Nelson to Corbin Clark and a successful 2-point try, Simpson pulled within 28-25. The defense then forced three, 3-and-outs, the last of which followed a potentially devastating interception by Buena Vista's Ryan Anderson deep in Simpson territory.
Simpson's final drive started with 1:56 left and was kept alive when Nelson found Walker Holland for a 17-yard gain on 4th-and-10 from the Buena Vista 36. The next play, Olson went over a defender to catch the go-ahead touchdown.
"When you have a quarterback like that and some of the skill guys around him and the offensive line is stepping up, you feel like you have a chance," Glogowski said. "Taylor has done that time and time again and nobody's surprised by that."
Brown moved the Buena Vista offense into Simpson territory when he found Gunner Gilland on a 16-yard reception at the Simpson 37 with 13 seconds left. On the next play, Brown lofted a high-arching pass that Henningsen managed to come down with at the Simpson 4 with just 5 seconds left on the clock.
In what looked to be the final play of the game, Brown threw an incomplete pass to Gilland in the end zone. The celebration was short-lived, however, as the clock showed 1 second remaining.
Brown made good on his extra chance when he ducked the pressure up the middle, broke contain to his left and crossed the goal line.
"We brought the pressure, he got outside the pocket and he made a play," Glogowski said.
"We'll take it as a learning experience, get better, and try to send our seniors off the right way," Glogowski said.
Simpson hits the road for the final game of the regular season when it travels to Decorah to face Luther next Saturday, Nov. 16. The Norse (2-7, 1-5) lost to Coe 31-14 on Saturday.
Kickoff is set for Noon.