Special teams were the key here on a windy Saturday afternoon, as the Buena Vista University football team edged Simpson 15-14 at J. Leslie Rollins fields on the BVU campus.
BV kicker-punter Chris Kemmerer booted a 34 yard field goal with 41 seconds remaining in the game to lift Buena Vista University to the win. The Iowa Conference victory was the second in a row for the Beavers who never led until Kemmerer's last-minute kick.
The senior from Clear Lake was a difference maker, kicking three field goals and averaging 43 yards per punt in eight tries.
"It's a big win for us," said BVU coach Jay Anderson. "It was great to see Chris (Kemmerer) have a outsanding game. "
With just over two minutes to play in the game, Simpson had a third down and one from its own 40-yard line. Michael Sly stopped the running back for no gain to give Buena Vista one more chance.
"Our defense had another strong day," Anderson said. "It was probably key for us that we had the wind at our backs in the fourth quarter."
Starting from his own 35, Chris Hawkins dumped off a short pass to Brent Stout who cut back across the field and ran all the way to the Simpson 22 yard line. Three short rushes set up Kemmerer for the game-winning kick as Buena Vista beat Simpson for the first time in seven tries.
A strong southerly wind played a major role in the game. Simpson chose to kick off to start the game with the wind at its back. The Storm's decision appeared wise as they scored 14 points in the first quarter.
On its second drive of the game, Simpson took advantage of good field position and marched 59 yards on nine plays. Scott Anderson, who ended the day with a game-high 75 yards rushing, capped off the drive with a 14 yard touchdown scamper.
Later in the quarter and still traveling into the wind, Buena Vista was trapped inside its own 10 yard line when Hawkins threw an errant pass that was intercepted by Neil Bontrager. Bontrager did a fine job of keeping his balance and returned the interception 10 yards for a touchdown. The extra point by Bill Nelson gave Simpson a 14-0 advantage.
Early in the second quarter, Kemmerer unleashed a 74 yard punt with the wind at his back for a touchback to give Simpson its worst starting field position up to that point of the game. The Storm were unable to get a first down, and a short punt gave Buena Vista the ball near midfield.
Buena Vista took advantage of the short field and drove all the way inside the Simpson 5 yard line before stalling. Kemmerer came on for a 20 yard field goal and the final points of the half to slice the deficit to 14-3.
"We have to do a much better job in the red zone," Anderson said. "We were close a couple times but couldn't punch it in."We were down 11 points at the half, but there was no sense of panic."
Late in the third quarter, the Buena Vista defense held Simpson on a fourth and one play to take over at its own 26 yard line. The Beavers drove to the Storm 35 yard line when Cody Pierce bounced around the left side for a 26 yard run on fourth and one. Buena Vista could not punch it in and had to settle for a 22 yard field goal from Kemmerer to pull within 14-6.
On its next drive early in the fourth quarter with the wind again at its back, Buena Vista was forced to punt from its own 31 yard line. Kemmerer boomed a 64 yard punt that was mishandled by Brody Tubaugh. Pierce fell on it at the 1 yard line.
Hawkins snuck in on the very next play to cut the margin to two points. On the ensuing two-point conversion, Hawkins attempted a pass toward the front pylon that was batted away near the end line to preserve the Simpson lead for the time being.
Buena Vista and Simpson, the last two ranked offenses in the conference heading into Saturday, combined for 17 punts and only 26 first downs. The Beavers outgained the Storm 249-211.
Hawkins completed 16 passes on 25 attempts for 200 yards. Stout and Dustin Schulz each had just over 50 yards receiving.
Simpson quarterback Tyson Unkrich completed only six passes for 90 yards. Kyle Peterson, one of the conference's top receivers entering the game, was limited to one catch for 48 yards.
Wade Hammen and Pierce each registered a game-high 13 tackles. Sly was credited with nine tackles. Kemmerer punted nine times for an average of 42.9 yards per punt. The Simpson defense, which recorded six quarterback sacks, was led by Blair Belland who had 11 tackles. BJ Bengard tallied 2 1/2 sacks.
Buena Vista is now 2-3 on the year, 2-2 in the conference. Simpson is 1-4 and 1-2 in the league. they host Luther College next Saturday.