The Buena Vista University football team's defense was called on a few too many times here Saturday in an 18-15 homecoming loss to Iowa Conference opponent Loras College.
The BV defense bent but didn't break in the first half, holding Loras scoreless through two quarters.
Meanwhile, the Beaver offense scored nine first half points on an early field goal by Ryan Hutton and a spectacular 95-yard touchdown reception by sophomore Jesse Schmidt of Laurens. The extra-point kick was blocked but the Beavers took a 9-0 lead into the lockeroom after the second quarter.
For BV, it might have been better if halftime was skipped altogether.
"We were different football teams in the first and second halves," said BV coach Steve Osterberger. "We came out flat in the second half and we didn't move the ball well. As a result, our defense got worn down in the fourth quarter."
The momentum changed immediately at the start of the third quarter. Loras blocked a punt deep in BV territory after three and out by the Beaver offense and scored a touchdown on a short field. With the extra-point, Loras trailed just 9-7.
"The punt block changed the momentum of the game in a big way," added Osterberger. "We never really got much going offensively the rest of the way, and gave the ball up too many times.
"Our defense was on the field in for about 90 snaps, and that's way too many. They played well, but weren't flying to the football late like they were in the first half. Time of possession really hurt us."
Loras took advantage in a methodical way, scoring single touchdowns late in the third quarter and again midway through the fourth. After a field goal with 3 minutes, 42 seconds left in the fourth, Loras was in command with an 18-9 lead.
The Beaver offense finally got going late in the fourth quarter, as quarterback Eric Wiebers engineered a five-play 81 yard drive that was capped by a 15-yard scoring pass from Wiebers to Chad Pearson.
The BV defense held with the offense getting the ball back late, but fell short on fourth down in Beaver territory. Loras simply ran the clock out to close an impressive second half.
"We had too many mistakes and penalties really hurt us at key times on offense," added Osterberger. "Our losses have been close and we won a couple close games early in the season. Somehow, we've got to get back to the mentality of winning the close games."
With the loss, BV dropped to 3-3 overall and 2-3 in conference play. Loras remained in the running for an Iowa Conference title by improving to 5-1 overall and to 4-1 in conference.
Meanwhile, the BV defense was outstanding in the first half.
Starting late in the first quarter, Loras drove deep into Beaver territory twice, as it started to win the battle of field position.
Loras took over at the BV 35 late in the first quarter after a short punt but went three and out. BV punter Chris Kemmerer pinned Loras back to its' three-yard line with a 79-yard punt on the last play of the first quarter.
But Loras mounted a long drive that was stopped on downs at the BV 18.
"Our defense just made some big plays, they bent but didn't' break," Osterberger said. "The guys were really flying to the ball but they were on the field a lot even in the first half."
After three and out by the Beaver offense, Loras took over at its own 40 later in the second quarter and moved deep into BV territory before quarterback Matt Hintz was intercepted at the five-yard line by BV defensive back Michael Lang.
On a third and nine from the five, Wiebers lofted a bullet to Schmidt near the right sideline about 15-yards downfield. The former Laurens-Marathon standout battled a defensive back for the ball, hauled in the ball with one arm, and ran the rest of the way for a 95-yard scoring play.
That was a new record for BV and Wiebers. The previous longest touchdown pass from scrimmage was by Wiebers' father, Rollie Wiebers, a 90-yarder to Dan Richardson in 1978.
"It was a great play by Jesse, but we know he's very capable of that," added Osterberger. "Once he caught the ball, he had the speed to go all the way. He's a big play weapon and we want him to make those types of plays consistently."
Earlier in the first quarter, on BV's second possession, Wiebers engineered a 10-play 61 drive capped by a 23-yard field goal by Hutton with 4:48 left in the first frame.
But on BV's first possession of the second half, Loras' Mike Ihm blocked a punt and the Duhawks scored several plays later for a 9-7 deficit.
Loras added a touchdown on a 2-yard run by Dee Hill with 8:54 left in the fourth quarter, capping a 14-play, 67 yard drive. Loras added another score later in the fourth quarter on a 27-yard field goal by Tony Foxen. With 3:42 left, Loras led 18-9.
Wiebers drove the Beavers 81 yards on just five plays as Chad Pearson's 15-yard scoring reception capped the drive. Hutton's kick was blocked, with 2:39 left to give Loras the final margin.
BV got the ball back with 2:08 left but the drive stalled deep in Beaver territory with 1:44 left.
Wiebers was 23 of 41 for 280 yards while Hintz was 17 of 32 for 273 yards.
Rushing yardage for Loras was a key factor, as the Duhawks outrushed BV 139-53.
BV travels to Indianola Saturday for a 1 p.m. matchup with Simpson College.