The Buena Vista University football team is showing fans it can compete with the Iowa Conference's best.
Going into Saturday's game with Wartburg, first-year coach Jay Anderson's biggest concern with his team matching the Knights' physical play. he added that his team was not given a chance by many to stay with Wartburg for four quarters.
"Nobody gave us much of a shot," Anderson said Monday morning. "Our players know we've been playing well and that if we played as physical as they did, we could beat them."
The Beavers almost pulled one of the biggest IIAC upsets of the year.
Instead, Wartburg rallied from a 13-3 fourth quarter deficit to force overtime and defeat Buena Vista University 20-13.
"We had several chances offensively in the second half that might have put the game away," Anderson said. "I thought we played just as physical as they did. They just made some plays in the fourth quarter and overtime for the win."
Wartburg quarterback Nick Yordi scrambled for a 6-yard touchdown run in the second overtime to give the Knights the victory.
Buena Vista, which had won four straight games, had the ball first in the first overtime. The Beavers were unable to pick up a first down. Chris Kemmerer's 36-yard field goal attempt drifted wide right as the score remained 13-13.
Wartburg needed points of any kind to win the game. On third down from the 19-yard line, Dan Hammes fumbled the ball to the Beavers to send the game into a second extra frame.
"Our defense had a great series in that first overtime," Anderson added. "It's pretty tough to hold Wartburg scoreless from the 25-yard line."
The Knights regrouped on their second chance in overtime. Wartburg took three plays to drive to the 6-yard line. Yordi rolled out to his right and nearly fell down before cutting back up the middle for the go-ahead touchdown.
Needing a touchdown to stay alive, Buena Vista took to the air with three pass plays. On third down and long, Chris Hawkins threw into the end zone but was intercepted by Josh Faaborg to end the game.
Wartburg out-gained Buena Vista in total yardage 372-238. The Knights were able to overcome four turnovers.
Hammes led the Wartburg ground attack with 178 yards on 33 carries. He picked up 82 of his yards in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Brent Stout ran for a season-high 95 yards on 17 carries for Buena Vista. He rushed the ball five times for 46 yards on the Beavers' only touchdown drive of the day in the first quarter. Cody Pierce finished off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run around the right side to put Buena Vista in front 10-0.
Wartburg, ranked 23rd in the nation, finally got on the scoreboard with just over nine minutes remaining in the third quarter. Spencer Herzberg made a 39-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 10-3.
On their next possession, the Knights fumbled the ball to the Beavers at their own 35-yard line. Buena Vista was unable to get a first down and had to settle for a 42-yard field goal by Kemmerer to reclaim a 10-point lead.
Wartburg then marched 62 yards on nine plays. Hammes took it in from 7 yards out to bring the Knights within 13-10 with just over 12 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
With under four minutes to go, Wartburg had the ball at its own 22-yard line. Yordi, who started the game on the bench and played from the Knights' second drive on, threw a pass that was nearly intercepted by Wade Hammen. Instead the ball landed in the arms of Josh Van Rees who rumbled all the way to the Buena Vista 16-yard line. That play set the table for Herzberg's 25-yard game-tying field goal. Yordi threw for 163 yards and was intercepted once. Kyle Duchman made a game-high five grabs for 46 yards.
Hawkins, who was sacked four times, registered 127 yards through the air. Steven Maguire, Randy Kaufmann, and Stout each had three catches.
Pierce tallied a game-best 14 tackles and went over the 200 tackle mark for his career. Hammen, who made his 150th career tackle, had 10 stops.
Wartburg is now 7-1 on the year and 5-1 in the conference. Buena Vista is 4-4 overall and 4-3 in the league.