The Buena Vista football team (6-3, 5-2 IIAC) looks to rebound, after seeing its conference title hopes erased with a tough 23-14 home loss to Central a week ago, by finishing in sole posession of second place in the Iowa Conference standings with a road win on Saturday at Cornell College (0-9, 0-7 IIAC).
Despite holding Central to only six first downs in the contest, the Beavers struggled to win the battle of field position and head coach Jay Anderson says that proved to be the difference.
"Last week we lost two of the three phases of the game," he stated. "Special teams play was going to be key and Central won the battle of field position all game long."
BVU, which has been near the top of the conference in total offense all season long, will look to finish out on a strong note against the Rams, who come in still in search of their first win of the season.
"We've been talking all week about sending the seniors out with a win and at the same time finishing with nothing but positives for those guys who will be back next season to build on. On top of that, we want second-place to ourselves."
Last season the Beavers rolled past Cornell in Storm Lake, 42-7, thanks in part to six touchdown passes from then-senior quarterback Chris Hawkins. They will be facing a Rams team this season that ranks last in the league in scoring defense (31.0ppg), allowing 378.3 yards of total offense per game.
For the season, BVU is passing for just more than 205 yards per contest, while rushing for an average of 142.3. It will be going against a Cornell team that is allowing 186.6 and 191.8 yards per game, respectively. Quarterback Matt Pearey has completed 138 pass attempts for 1,824 yards and eight touchdowns. On the other end, fellow senior Trent Svendsen has hauled in 38 catches for 444 yards and two scores. Steven Maguire and Eric Bertelsen follow with 25 and 21 catches, respectively, with Bertelsen leading the way with his five touchdown grabs.
On the ground, sophomore Cory Donscheski leads the charge with 765 yards on 151 carries, including 10 scores. Senior Alex Moss has provided the strong 1-2 punch with 467 yards on 122 attempts, to go along with four scores.
"They play hard and physical on the defensive end," says Anderson. "Lately, they have been really slowing down opponent's running games."
Over it's last two games (Central and Luther), Cornell has allowed a combined total of 196 yards on the ground and has not allowed a single rusher to eclipse the 50-yard plateau.
Leif Goleman and Don Bladt have chalked up 75 and 69 tackles, respectively, to lead Cornell, including Goleman's 5.5 for a loss. Bladt also has two of the team's four interceptions on the year.
For Buena Vista, defensively, the team ranks second in the league in scoring defense (14.7ppg) and is holding opponents to just a 30 percent average on third down conversions this season.
Despite losing by only seven points in each of its last two games, Cornell is averaging just under 13 points per game overall and is rushing for just more than 130 yards, while passing for nearly 148 more.
Running back Travion Hardman leads the way on the ground with 639 yards and three touchdowns with quarterback Dallas Bush right behind with 386 yards and three scores. Through the air, Bush has completed 125 attempts for 1,259 yards and only three touchdowns, while throwing 11 interceptions.
"He [Bush] is a dual-threat guy who can make big plays with either his arm or legs if we don't do our job defensively," Anderson adds.
Junior Ben Hansen and freshman Alan Bladt continue to lead the Beavers in tackles for the year with 65 and 60, respectively. Senior Mike Sly has chipped in with a team-best 9.5 tackles for a loss as senior Rahn Franklin Jr. has helped slow down the opponent's passing game with six interceptions and 11 pass break-ups.
Buena Vista is 3-0 on the road this season and a fourth win would give the team its best conference finish since taking second back in 1986. The team will kick-off with the Rams at Ash Park Field in Mt. Vernon at 12:00 p.m. The game can be heard locally on 97.5FM KBVU or by going online to http://www2.bvu.edu/athletics/broadcast/.