The Buena Vista football team is off to its best start in 15 years and will look to remain perfect through three games for the first time in nearly 30 years when it plays its first road contest of the year at Loras College this Saturday at 1:00pm inside of the Rock Bowl.
Who: Buena Vista (2-0, 1-0 IIAC) vs. Loras (1-2, 0-1 IIAC)
When: Saturday, September 23 * 1:00pm
Where: The Rock Bowl * Dubuque, Iowa
Inside the Series: The Duhawks and Beavers first played back in 1913 when the school was named St. Joseph. The first time the two sides met up with the school named Loras was in 1939 and they met up just a handful of times up to 1986. From there, however, they have played each year and now meeting up for the 42nd time. BVU won last year's meeting in Dubuque, 34-24, and has won 11 of the last 13. The two wins by Loras during that stretch were by a combined 10 points. BVU holds a slim, 21-20, edge in the all-time series.
About Loras: The Duhawks are coming off a tough 27-24 loss to their inner-city rivals from the University of Dubuque in the Iowa Conference opener for both teams on September 16. It was their second straight setback following a 41-9 triumph over Elmhurst in the season opener. Dubuque held a 21-7 halftime lead, but the Duhawks switched gears over the final 30 minutes to make things interesting in the end. The defense held the Spartans to just a pair of field goals while the offense chalked up a 69-yard touchdown pass late in the third before a one-yard plunge in the fourth made it a three-point contest. Loras set season-highs for passing in the contest (327 yards), total offense (452 yards). Junior wideout Brad Boelkow notched 127 yards receiving on five catches, including two touchdowns, while senior quarterback Bob Kelly completed 23 passes, but was also intercepted three times.
Loras is averaging 30ppg over the first three contests and ranks right in the middle of the IIAC in both rushing and passing offense. Ike Cloward and Cody Mighell have shared the duties in the ground game thus far, with Cloward leading the way with 86ypg and four scores. Mighell has carried it 45 times for an average of 57ypg. Aside from Boelkow, Josh Schulte is the team's leader in receptions (21), yards (294). Those two have more receptions combined than the rest of the team has combined. Defensively, the Duhawks currently sit second in defending the pass, allowing an average of 198ypg. Senior inside linebacker, Bob Brophy, has a team-high 34 tackles on the year, including three for a loss. Chris Miller, who plays the other inside linebacker, is right behind him with 23 stops. The unit does have six sacks and 17 tackles for a loss while intercepting two passes.
About BVU: The Beavers are off to their best start since 2003 when it also began 2-0 and are now looking to make it three straight wins to begin a season for the first time since 1988 when it went also began 3-0. The team is riding the emotions of its dramatic 39-38 overtime victory in Storm Lake last Saturday where it scored on a two-point conversion for the walk-off victory. It was just the team's third win over the Dutch since 1980 and the first since 2012. Junior quarterback, Cole Miller, who leads the league in passing at 338.0ypg, set up the game-winning attempt with a 14-yard touchdown pass to junior Jordan Travis. Miller, who threw for 358 yards in the contest, has five touchdowns and just one interception through the first two contests. He also has a passing touchdown of at least 60 yards in both outings. Freshman tailback Tariq Thomas has given the team a nice balance, averaging 77.0ypg which is ninth in the IIAC. He also has a pair of touchdowns, including a 56-yard scamper on his first collegiate series back in the season opener. Senior receiver, TJ Lint, who took the reverse hand-off for the game-winner against Central, is on pace for a career year early on. He leads the team with 12 catches for 249 yards and one touchdown and currently ranks second in the IIAC in yards per game (124.5). Sophomore Ross Adamson is right behind with 11 grabs for 1312 yards. The offense is ranked first in passing offense and seventh in rushing.
Defensively, the team will look to bounce back after allowing more than 400 yards rushing to the Dutch, including more than 200 by versatile quarterback Kohle Helle. The team was tough against the pass, holding Central to under 150 yards through the air. A total of six players have at least 10 tackles through two games, led by junior defensive back, Zach Anderson's 18. Senior defensive back, Nick Amundson, is right behind with 13, to go along with an interception, forced fumble and two pass breakups. He nearly ended the game as time expired a week ago after intercepting a pass and returning it 60 yards before being tripped up at the 10-yardline. Senior linebacker Brady Illg has a team-high 2.5 tackles for a loss with five players registering one sack. Freshman Reed Kruse, is one of those in double-digits with 10 tackles and is fourth with seven solo. He also intercepted his first career pass a week ago and returned it 13 yards.
The Beavers have been much improved and consistent in the return game this season, averaging a league-best 27.0 yards on punt returns in the early going, while sitting third in kick returns at 22.0 yards per return. Freshman Eric Pacheco is leading the way in the IIAC in punt returns (27.0) while Amundson is third in kick return average (25.8).
A Look Ahead: Buena Vista returns home next Saturday, September 30, when it hosts Luther College for Homecoming 2017. Kick-off inside of J. Leslie Rollins Stadium is set for 1:00pm and will be played prior to the BVU soccer doubleheader against the Norse later that evening.