Furious comeback falls short in 24-22 loss to Nebraska Wesleyan

Furious comeback falls short in 24-22 loss to Nebraska Wesleyan

INDIANOLA, Iowa — The Simpson football team scored two touchdowns in the final two minutes and recovered two onside kicks, but a 44-yard field field goal as time expired missed wide right as Nebraska Wesleyan escaped with a 24-22 win Saturday.

Simpson trailed 24-9 in the fourth quarter before Caleb Frye sparked two late TD drives, pulling the Storm within 24-22 after a short TD pass to Nathan Russell with 38 seconds left. A second onside recovery gave Simpson a chance, but Travis Tupper -- usually the Storm's kickoff specialist -- just missed a 44-yard attempt as time expired.

"It stings. It hurts," head coach Matt Jeter said. "We left too many plays out there, it didn't come down to that last play."

Jackson Redmond caught 13 passes for 187 yards and a TD and was instrumental in the comeback effort for the Storm (3-5, 2-4 Iowa Conference), who lost the first meeting between the teams in 31 years. Frye threw for 199 yards in split duty with Sam Sasso, who threw for 121 and a score. 

Joel Wiedel ran for 170 yards and two TDs, Ben Green threw for 178 yards and caught a TD on a reverse pass for the Prairie Wolves (3-5, 2-4), who out-gained Simpson on the ground 225-44 to snap a two-game losing streak.

Wiedel had a 59-yard scoring jaunt in the first half and his 13-yarder put Nebraska Wesleyan ahead 24-9 at the end of the third quarter. The Prairie Wolves threatened to extend the lead in the fourth quarter, but Isaac Frazier blocked a Kramer Rath 32-yard field goal attempt with 3:52 left in the game.

Frye responded by leading Simpson on a 74-yard scoring drive that culminated in a 10-yard TD pass to Redmond. But a missed extra point by Drew Jensen -- his second of the game -- kept it a two-score game at 24-15.

Michael Connor recovered the first onside kick with 1:52 left and Frye led the Storm down the field again, finding Russell on a 1-yard TD pass to make it 24-22 after the made extra point. Simpson lined up for another onside kick and got it again as Braden Meints went up to snag the high bounce and Redmond came away with it after a scramble. 

Facing fourth-and-seven at midfield, Frye found Jordan Beem for 21 yards down the seam to get Simpson in field goal range. A quarterback sweep put the ball on the right hash with 1.1 seconds left.

In just his second field goal attempt of the season, Tupper had plenty of leg on the potential game-winner but pushed it right as time expired. 

"He's our long field goal kicker and we have confidence in him," Jeter said. "If I had to do it again I'd put him back out there."

Simpson lost two fumbles, missed two extra points and allowed Nebraska Wesleyan to convert on 4 of 7 third downs in the second half. With a chance to steal momentum early, the Storm had to settle for a Jensen field goal following a Brendan Holmes interception that resulted in first-and-10 from the NWU 17.

Ryan Sarver and Jake Stearns had 11 tackles apiece to lead the defensive effort. Holmes addes seven stops and Frazier tallied his 10th sack of the season, finishing with five tackles, two tackles for loss and a pass breakup.

UP NEXT
Simpson faces its third straight opponent coming off a bye next week when it travels to Central. The Dutch are 6-2 overall and 4-2 in the Iowa Conference.

NOTES
Nathan Hawkins had another big day punting, averaging 49 yards on nine punts with a 70-yarder, tied for the second-longest in school history … he placed five inside the 20, giving him nine over the past two games … the 187 yards receiving for Redmond is most by a Simpson receiver since 2012 when Taylor Rogers (187) and Brad Vogel (197, 202) had big days receiving … Simpson's 44 yards rushing is its second-lowest total of the season … Beem was held to 18 yards on 12 carries and needs 163 over the final two games to reach 3,000 for his career.

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