PELLA, Iowa -- The Simpson football team put together a season-best performance on the ground but Blaine Hawkins threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Ross Norem with 21 seconds left in the game, giving No. 20 Central a 17-16 win Saturday in a battle for first place in the American Rivers Conference.
The Storm (4-2, 3-1) took a 16-10 lead on a 7-yard scamper by quarterback Tanner Krueger with 7:28 to play in the fourth quarter, but a holding penalty wiped out the extra point try. After a 10-yard walkoff, the second attempt missed.
Simpson advanced to midfield on its final possession, but Krueger's desperation heave to the endzone was knocked down by the Dutch (7-0, 5-0).
Cam Bunting ran for 131 yards on 33 carries and caught five passes for 34 yards to lead the Storm's offensive attack. Joe Meyer added a career-best 63 yards on the ground as Simpson's running game amassed a season-high 222 yards. Krueger went 15-for-29 for 146 yards and a touchdown through the air. Safety Ryan Lehr led the defensive effort with 11 tackles, and Prince Krah had two fumble recoveries. Defensive end Trey Chumbley added two sacks and three tackles for loss.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Krueger scored the go-ahead touchdown with 7:28 left in the game to give Simpson a 16-10 lead. Facing third-and-goal from the 7-yard line, Krueger evaded the Central rush, ran out of a sack and scrambled to the endzone to cap a 10-play, 80-yard drive. Big running plays by Bunting and Meyer helped move the ball, as Bunting ripped off a 28-yarder to start the drive and Meyer added a 22-yarder.
Central took over at the Simpson 47 trailing 16-10 with 2:37 left. Following an incompletion, the Dutch faced third-and-6 at the Storm 15. Hawkins bought time with his feet and threw across his body to find Norem for the 15-yard TD with just 21 seconds left. Defensive end Chris Bowles was giving chase, narrowly missing a sack that likely would have ended the game. Central also converted on fourth-and-10 earlier in the drive.
Joey Gale made a 41-yard field goal with 34 seconds left in the first half to make the score 3-3 at halftime. The Storm's first possession of the second half yielded the first touchdown when Krueger found Sam Bartlett on an 8-yard fade route with 8:43 left in the third. The scoring pass was the only pass play of the drive. Simpson ran the ball eight straight times and was helped by a pair of personal foul penalties on the Dutch.
Central made it 10-10 early in the fourth quarter when Pat Gray ran in from 1-yard out with 14:27 to play. Hawkins connected with Norem on an 81-yard pass-and-catch to set up the short score.
- For just the second time since Matt Jeter took over as head coach, the Storm lost a game in which they won the turnover battle. Simpson is now 7-2 when winning the turnover battle in Jeter's 26 games at the helm.
- Despite his big day on the ground, running back Cam Bunting was held out of the endzone for the first time in 10 games. He did manage to eclipse 100 yards for the third time this season and for the ninth time in the last 13 games.
- Led by Trey Chumbley's 2.0 sacks, the Storm matched a season-high with 4.0 against the Dutch.
Simpson returns home to host Loras on Saturday, Oct. 20. Start time is set for 1 p.m. at Buxton Stadium.