PELLA - Central College had plenty of motivation to beat the Buena Vista football team here Saturday afternoon at A.J. Kuyper Stadium.
The Dutch needed to win to capture a share of the Iowa Conference title with Coe. It also needed to beat BVU to gain an at-large berth to the NCAA Division III playoffs.
Central accomplished both goals with a 28-6 victory over the Beavers, whose season ended with a 4-4 mark in Iowa Conference play and 5-5 overall.
The Dutch finished the regular season at 9-1 overall and 7-1 in conference play. Coe, also 9-1 and 7-1, had beaten Central earlier in the season and gained the automatic bid to the national playoffs.
The Dutch received an at-large berth and opens the playoffs Saturday at Wisconsin-Whitewater. Coe travels north to Moorhead, Minn. to meet Concordia College of the MIAC.
BVU went into the game hoping to play a spoiler role in Central's conference and playoff hopes. The loss ended what had been a strong last month of the season for the Beavers, who entered the contest with a two-game winning streak.
"We would have liked to win a few more games during the season than we did," Osterberger said. "But you have to get some breaks along the way and we just didn't get many."
BVU was also hit hard during the season with injuries. That trend continued Saturday when lineman Mark Hobart suffered a broke leg.
"We battled through a lot of adversity this year," added Osterberger. "It's tough to see a great bunch of seniors go, but we have high hopes for next year with a lot of players returning."
Saturday's game, meanwhile, was played in high winds and a few thunderstorms. With 5 minutes, 21 seconds left in the opening quarter, play was stopped due to lightning but resumed 32 minutes later.
Just before play was stopped, Central took a 7-0 lead when conference rushing leader Vance Schuring ran in from three yards out and the extra-point kick was good.
"I'm glad that we got off to a fast start," Central coach Jeff McMartin said. "Buena Vista is a dangerous team with good skill players."
BVU quarterback Chris Hawkins was intercepted on the ensuing possession, with Central's Dustyn Baethke making the pick at the BVU 27 and running it back 16-yards to the 11. After Schuring ran for seven yards on first down, he scored on second down from four yards out.
"It seemed like we couldn't get much going on offense and we gave up a couple of big plays on defense," BVU coach Steve Osterberger said Sunday afternoon.
Central was playing with the wind in the first quarter and took advantage of it, Osterberger said. The Dutch added another touchdown late in the first quarter after BVU went three and out in their own territory. Chris Kemmerer's punt against the wind traveled just 29 yards as the Dutch took over at the Beaver 38 after a 33-yard return by Brett Doud.
On the next play, Central quarterback Tim McConnell hooked up with Jon Haugen for a 38-yard scoring pass. Central led 21-0 after one quarter.
The Beavers scored their only points of the game on an impressive 12-play, 79-yard drive capped by an eight-yard scoring pass from Hawkins to senior receiver Jesse Schmidt.
Central came up with an impressive drive of its own late in the first quarter. With 1:08 left in the first half, Schuring ran in from two yards out to cap a 10-play, 80-yard drive that consumed just under four minutes.
The Dutch led 28-7 at the half and neither team scored in the last two quarters.
The Dutch defense held BVU to just 66 yards rushing on 31 attempts. Hawkins completed 19 of 40 passes for 201 yards, one interception and one scoring pass.
Central rushed for 264 yards, including 190 yards on 30 attempts by Schuring, a sophomore out of Pella High.
Schmidt, BVU's all-time leading receiver, added to his totals by catching five passes for 88 yards. 1-15 Randy Kaufman added four catches for 43 yards.