With 28-21 OT win over Luther, BVU gridders in first in IIAC
There's nothing more valuable than making a statement early in an overtime game.
The Buena University football team did just that here Saturday at J. Leslie Rollins Stadium Saturday, where it beat Luther 28-21 in overtime.
Beaver running back Chad Pearson scored on a 25-yard counter play to the right side on BVU's first play from scrimmage in the first overtime period.
"That particular play had been working all afternoon, so we just went with it," said BVU coach Steve Osterberger, who was happy to see his team's running game get into gear against Luther. Pearson rushed for 164 yards on 19 carries, scoring twice as the Beavers piled up 223 rushing yards.
"We started the season with some running backs who hadn't had many reps last year," said Osterberger. "I think now they are starting to play better and we're getting good blocking from our offense line.
"But Chad scoring on our first overtime play was a huge lift, both for our offense and especially for our defense," the coach added.
The defense took that momentum and did something with it. On Luther's first overtime possession from its 25-yard line, the Beavers snuffed two running plays that all told, lost one yard. Two pass incompletions followed as BVU improved to 4-0 in Iowa Conference play and 4-1 overall. Luther dropped to an unlikely 1-3 in the IIAC, given the athletic talent of its team.
Halfway through the conference schedule, the BVU football team stands atop the Iowa Conference standings after Coe lost to Dubuque Saturday. They play Waldorf College of Forest City at home next Saturday in a non-conference game.
"We like the position we're in now, but we still have a long way to go," Osterberger said. "We're going to hit it hard in practice this week and go back to basics. We've got to be more consistent on both sides of the ball and we've got to block and tackle better than we did against Luther."
For the fourth consecutive conference game, the Beavers were forced Saturday to come from behind against Luther.
After BVU struck first with 8 minutes, 59 seconds left in the first quarter on a 38-yard pass from quarterback Craig Novacek to senior wide-out Michael Sullivan, Luther roared back with 14 straight points for a 14-7 halftime lead.
Sullivan's catch capped a three play, 52-yard drive that took just 1:35.
Luther's Justin Albers notched the first of his two interceptions with 4:38 left in the first quarter, setting up Luther at the BVU 28-yard line. After four plays, Luther moved to the Beaver 1 and on a fourth and goal, Norse fullback Seth Wigle just got over the goal line.
Luther took a 14-7 lead with 11:34 left in the second quarter on a 57-yard run off tackle by tailback Tyler Sherdan, who led all rushers on the day with 187 yards on 35 carries.
If BVU made a statement later in overtime, it made another one less than two minutes into the second half on it's first possession of the third quarter.
Once again, Pearson did the damage, running off the left side this time and scoring on a 69-yard run.
"It got us right back into the game and again, gave us a lift and some momentum," added Osterberger.
BVU took a 21-14 lead into the fourth quarter, scoring their second touchdown of the third quarter with 4:22 left in the period on a 12-yard pass from Novacek to Sullivan. That capped just a 33-yard drive set up when BVU's All-American linebacker Michael Irvin recovered Kyle Pearson's fumble at the Luther 33. Irvin had a huge day on defense. Along with the fumble recovery, Irvin had 10 solo tackles and 10 assists for a game-high 20 tackles.
Luther took over at its own 38 late in the third quarter and took advantage of two key BVU penalties to drive to the BVU 22, where Norse quarterback Nate Rolland hooked up with Pearson for a 22-yard scoring pass.
During the 9-play, 52-yard drive, the Beavers were called for offsides on a third and two from near midfield and a facemask penalty also aided Luther deep in BVU territory.
"We've got to eliminate some of the mistakes we're making on both offense and defense," Osterberger said. "We had three interceptions and lost a fumble and that's just turning the ball over too much. We've got to eliminate the turnovers."
Rolland hooked up with Pearson early in the fourth quarter and that tied the game at 21, but neither team was able to score during the rest of the quarter.
Luther turned the ball over twice during that stretch but BVU couldn't take advantage. Offensively, the Beavers punted twice and lost the ball via interception once.
Luther was also hurt by turnovers, as the Beavers forced the Norse into three interceptions and two lost fumbles.
Meanwhile, Saturday's recipe for a BVU win was a familiar one so far in 2004, according to Osterberger.
"We made some big plays on both offense and defense, but we can and will have to play more consistent," he said.
Luther, meanwhile, outgained the Beavers in total yards, piling up 224 rushing yards and 158 passing for 382 yards of offense. BVU rushed for 213 yards but was held to just 78 passing yards by the Norse.
Luther quarterback Rolland completed just 13 of 38 passes but for 158 yards.
Defensively, BVU defensive back Chad Hinrichs had two interceptions.