The Buena Vista University football team did it the old-fashioned way here Saturday against the University of Dubuque, using a strong rushing game and a stellar defense to prevail in a 19-0 victory.
With the win, the Beavers took another important step towards winning an Iowa Conference title. If the Beavers win their next two games - vs. Central at home Saturday and vs. Coe at home the following week - they'll win the conference title outright. A split of those two games would most likely mean they'd have to share the IIAC title.
Saturday at Dubuque, the Beaver defense was outstanding, holding the Spartans to just 64 rushing yards and 71 passing.
"On that side of the ball, our kids have been flying around the football all season and they've been consistent with that," said BVU's fifth-year coach Steve Osterberger. "They've caused a lot of problems for other teams' offenses so far."
Meanwhile, on offense, running the ball was more of a necessity for both teams, according to Osterberger.
The game was played in consistent winds of 20 to 30 mph.
"And it was gusting up to 40 mph at times," the coach said. "You couldn't pass going with the wind or going against it. The ball was just sailing all over the place."
Because of the wind, the Beavers, after winning the toss, took the wind and deferred possession to Dubuque, which wound up deep in its own territory after the opening kickoff and stayed there the entire quarter.
That allowed BVU to put up 13 quick points in that frame for a 13-0 lead after one quarter.
"Field position in the first quarter and getting an early lead were two keys for us," Osterberger said.
The Beavers scored on their first possession. After holding the Spartans to one first down, BVU took over at the Dubuque 46 after a 20-yard, windblown punt.
They moved to the Dubuque 14 before the drive stalled, but BVU's Ryan Hutton kicked a 32-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead just four minutes into the game.
The Beavers pinned the Spartans to their own 20 after a kick and the Dubuque offense was forced to punt.
BVU took over at the the Dubuque 46 again and using the rushing of Chad Pearson and quarterback Craig Novacek, used four plays before Novacek snuck in from a yard out. Key plays in the drive were an 18-yard run by Pearson and a 19-yarder by Novacek.
"We were able to run the ball very effectively, and that was also a key on a windy day," added Osterberger.
After Hutton made the extra-point kick, the Beavers led 10-0 with 4:44 still left in the first quarter.
The Beavers added one more field goal in the first quarter for their big early lead.
After a three and out by the Spartans, the Beavers took over at their own 42 and used 12 plays to drive to the Dubuque 7, where Hutton connected on a 24-yard field goal, his second of the first quarter.
During the scoring drive, the Beavers used the pass and the run effectively. Key plays in the series were two 10-yard runs by running back T.J. Miller, a 14-yard pass from Novacek to end Michael Sullivan and a 16-yard pass to BVU's career passing touchdown leader, Jesse Schmidt.
Dubuque threatened to score early in the second quarter, driving to the Beaver 15. But on a third and ten play, BVU's Scott Jamison intercepted a Spartan pass near the goal line and returned it to the BVU 11.
The Beavers drove deep into Dubuque territory late in the second quarter but were unable to punch the ball in and lost possession on downs. But they took their 13-point lead into the locker room at the half.
Neither team threatened in a stalemate of a third quarter, but the Beavers got on the board again early in the fourth.
After taking over at the their own 40, BVU used three plays and a facemask penalty to move to their own 45. On a third and five play, Pearson took it the distance for a 55-yard scoring run and a 19-0 lead. Hutton failed on the extra-point run.
The BVU defense was tough the rest of the way, not allowing Dubuque into Beaver territory in the remaining 10 minutes.
The Beavers rushed for 300 net yards, led by 188 yards on 36 carries by Pearson. Miller ran 17 times for 87 yards.
Novacek didn't throw an interception and finished the day with 38 yards passing on four of nine completions.
Things will only get tougher for BVU in the next two weeks, and that includes this Saturday, when they play host to traditional Iowa Conference power Central College.
"We're just concentrating on Central at this point and hope to keep this thing going," Osterberger said.