Fresh off its thrilling 26-21 upset over then 22nd-ranked Wartburg College last Saturday, the Buena Vista football team now prepares itself for another tough contest this week as the team goes back on the road for a trip to Loras College (3-1, 2-0 IIAC).
"That was a big win for our guys," said head coach Jay Anderson, "but at the same time, we know there is still a lot of work to be done."
The Beavers chalked up 13 first quarter points against the Knights and have now outscored their opponents 41-0 during the opening 15 minutes of play this season. Anderson was also pleased with the defensive effort that kept his team in the game.
"They were great," he added, "Especially in the third quarter when Wartburg had the wind in its favor."
The defense will again have its hands full this week against the Duhawks. Loras comes in second in the IIAC in scoring average at 28.2, just ahead of BVU's 25.2 average. It also ranks second in rushing offense, averaging 147.5 yards per game. Alex McGrew has been the go-to-guy as he has carried the ball 130 times for 531 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 132.8 yards per outing.
"There's no question they can run the ball," says Anderson. "Our guys have to come out mentally ready. If not, it could be a long day."
The two teams came into the season with Loras picked to finish sixth in the preseason coaches' poll as BVU was picked eighth. Now, five weeks into the regular season, the two teams meet up with sole possession of first place on the line.
BVU will look to use its strong pass offense to its advantage this week while working to remain in the elusive top spot. The team currently ranks second in the IIAC in passing offense (228.8 ypg) and trails only Wartburg's 253.6 ypg. Quarterback Matt Pearey has completed 62-of-104 pass attempts for 915 yards and four touchdowns. He'll be facing a Loras defense which is tops in the league overall and ranks second in the league in pass defense, allowing only 138.2 yards per game, while intercepting seven passes. It also ranks second against the run, allowing only 95.8 yards per game.
Buena Vista is averaging 126 yards on the ground this season, including a team-best 78 yards per game from sophomore Cory Donscheski. Senior Alex Moss adds the balance to the attack, rushing for 52.5 yards each time out. The duo has also combined for seven of the team's 11 rushing touchdowns on the year.
Defensively, Reed Petersen leads the way for Loras with 29 total tackles on the year, including 13 solo. He's also picked off one pass and recovered a fumble. Danny Vesley follows with 24 tackles, including two for a loss. As a team, Loras has tallied 30 tackles for a loss, including 10 sacks.
Freshman Alan Bladt leads the charge for BVU, totaling 27 total tackles, including three for a loss. Overall, BVU has five players who have registered over 20 tackles, including 8.5 of them for a loss. Rahn Franklin has been solid in pass defense, intercepting three of the team's seven passes.
"We've been preaching to the guys all year to just take it one week and one game at a time," says Anderson. "I truly believe the guys are buying into that concept, so we continue to look for good things to come."
Buena Vista has defeated the Duhawks in eight of the last 10 meetings, including four straight. The Beavers look to move to 4-0 inside of the IIAC for the first time since 2004.
Kick-off between the two teams is scheduled for 1:00 p.m., and the broadcast of the game can be heard locally on 97.5FM KBVU or by going online to http://www2.bvu.edu/athletics/broadcast/.