INDIANOLA, Iowa — A goal line stand and ensuing 99-yard touchdown drive gave Central an 11-point, fourth-quarter lead and proved to be a back-breaking turn of events for the Simpson football team in a 35-17 loss Saturday at Buxton Stadium.
Driving for the potential go-ahead score late in the third quarter, Simpson turned it over on downs when Braden Meints was stopped short of the goal line on fourth down from the one. Central drove out of the shadow of its own endzone, marching 99 yards in 14 plays to go ahead 28-17 on quarterback Blaine Hawkins' 4-yard TD run to flip the momentum.
Hawkins threw for 219 yards and a touchdown and ran for 107 and three scores to lead the Dutch (3-2, 2-1 Iowa Conference), who won their fourth straight in the series. Nathan Fitzgerald ran for 90 yards and Sam Markham caught 10 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown.
Central ran for 241 yards on the day, including 96 in the fourth quarter.
Cam Bunting surpassed the century mark for the second-straight game, running for 106 yards on 24 carries for the Storm (2-3, 1-2), who were outscored 21-3 after the first quarter. Sam Sasso threw for 213 yards and a touchdown and Ricky Reeve enjoyed a career day with 97 yards on seven receptions.
Storm open strong: Simpson made a statement early, taking the opening kickoff 84 yards on 13 plays, scoring on a 1-yard TD run by Sasso. After a pair of punts, Simpson took a 14-7 lead on a 7-yard TD catch by Reeve. Sasso came out on fire, going 11-for-17 through the air in the first quarter.
Potential go-ahead drive stopped short: Trailing 21-17 after Drew Jensen's 42-yard field goal, the Storm mounted a big 13-play, 64-yard drive that chewed up 6 minutes, 7 seconds. Simpson used a heavy dose of Bunting on the drive, getting a 3-yard run to set up 1st-and-goal at the 4. After an incomplete pass on first down, Bunting ran for 3 yards to the 1. He was stopped short on 3rd-and-goal, then Braden Meints was stopped short on 4th-and-goal. Central took over and pieced together a methodical drive that ended in 4-yard TD run by Hawkins to make it a two-score game.
Notes and Numbers
• Interceptions by Prince Krah and Brendan Holmes give Simpson eight through five games. Simpson had just five in all of 2016 as the Storm now have a takeaway in 14 of 15 games under head coach Matt Jeter.
• The Storm defense was held without a sack for the first time this season. Simpson came into the game leading the league with 13 sacks.
• Placekicker Drew Jensen hit a 42-yard field goal in the third quarter, extending his school record total to 28 made field goals for his career. He is 4 of 6 in 2017, with each field goal measuring at least 40 yards.
The Storm travel to Dubuque to face Loras next Saturday, Oct. 7. The Duhawks (3-2, 2-1) beat Nebraska Wesleyan 49-42 on Saturday.