The Buena Vista football team (0-5, 0-2 IIAC) began its strong finish a year ago with a thrilling 30-25 home victory over Central College, and the team is looking to do the same thing again in 2013 as it goes on the road to play the Dutch (2-3, 0-2 IIAC) this Saturday.
BVU is coming off its second straight tough loss to begin Iowa Conference play, dropping a narrow 37-29 road contest at Wartburg College one week ago. That followed a tough 21-7 Homecoming loss in the league opener two weeks ago to Coe College.
It's been a tough stretch of games for head coach Jay Anderson and his group, but he says the team has remained positive through it all and looks for similar results as last year down the stretch here in 2013.
"The last two weeks have been a little frustrating, but we know those games are now behind us and we can't go back and change anything," says Anderson. "We can, however, learn from the mistakes made and missed opportunities and hope it continues to make us better as we move to the second half of the year."
The Beavers will take the field inside of Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium looking for its first win against the Dutch in Pella since a 23-21 victory back in 1979. They will be facing a Central team which is returning home for the first time since September 28 when it defeated Albion (Mich.) 31-6. It has begun the IIAC season with a pair of road games, losing each by a combined six points, including a 14-10 contest at Simpson last week.
"They might be 0-and-2, but they're a very good football team," Anderson adds. "It's certainly a tough place to play so a fast start will be important to try and take away their momentum early."
In their two setbacks, the Dutch averaged just 15.5 points per contest after scoring better than 30 points in back-to-back home games to close out the non-conference schedule. They have managed only 252 yards of total offense per game to start league play, including a league-low 64 yards per outing on the ground.
Defensively, however, the Dutch have been one of the best in the conference, allowing 282 yards of offense (third-best) and just 18 points per contest (second-best). Overall, the group comes in surrendering only 16 points and 316 yards per outing (both rank in the top-3).
Mike Young and Mitch Schroeder have helped lead the force with each recording 40 total tackles on the year. Young has 7.5 tackles for a loss, including one sack and one fumble recovery, while intercepting two passes. Eric Larson has 27 tackles, while defending 10 passes and breaking up nine of those, to go along with an interception. Danny Samson has 20 stops, including a team-high 10 for a loss, including four sacks. As a team, the Dutch have seven interceptions on the year and 12 sacks.
"Their defense is as tough as they come," Anderson points out. "You look at the Dubuque game. They held them to three field goals and one touchdown. We're going to have to have great success on first downs to put us in the manageable distances. They are tough when you get them in man-to-man match-ups down field."
The Beavers will look to counter with an offense that has shown a great deal of improvement over the last year. Coming into Saturday's game with the Dutch, it is averaging better than 320 yards of total offense in two IIAC games, despite scoring only 18 points per contest.
Quarterback Bobby Brown, who threw for 318 yards and three TD's in last season's win over the Dutch, has orchestrated the offense well all season, throwing for 1,070 yards and nine touchdowns, including a career-best four TD strikes last week against the Knights. He has had a strong receiving corps to throw to, including junior fullback Adam Cave, who highlighted his career year with a career-best 11 catches for 133 yards and two scores against Wartburg. Cave became the first Beaver since Jesse Schmidt against Simpson in 2005 to haul in at least 10 catches in a single game.
Junior running back Dylan Barrett has been the workload on the ground, carrying the ball nearly 22 times per contest and is averaging better than 77 yards per game.
Central has outscored its opponent 55-16 in the second quarter of games this season and has been led offensively by quarterback Aaron Eisler, who is averaging 178 yards through the air per contest, including 11 touchdowns. He's completing nearly 59 percent of his attempts. Much like Brown, he too has had a trio of receivers to chuck the ball to. Brendon Boerm has hauled in a team-high 28 catches for 248 yards and three scores with Grant McArdle following with 20 catches for just 196 yards, but does have two TD's. Blaine Forsythe has three touchdown catches and 19 grabs overall.
On the ground, Josh Osborn is chalking up better than 88 yards per outing and has two of the team's three rushing touchdowns this season. He rushed for a season-best 192 yards and both scores against Albion in the team's last home contest.
The group will be going up against a Beaver defense led by a veteran group of linebackers. Senior Brady Randall has turned in a team-high 36 tackles on the year for a unit that has four players with at least 30 stops. Randall also has two tackles for a loss, an interception and one forced fumble. Sophomore strong safety Kyle Arnold is right behind with 35 tackles (team-high 23 solo) with junior linebacker Derek Schwartz turning in 34 stops, to go along with an interception. Junior defensive back Ryan Anderson has picked-off a team-best two passes this season.
"They will spread you out," Anderson adds. "They look for that high-percentage pass on first down to keep themselves ahead of the chains. We can't be sitting back on our heels. We need to pressure them to get them into second-and-long situations."
Freshman Tyler Stolen has been a key component all season long with his ability to help change field position. He has three games this season with a punt that has gone at least 50 yards. Last week against Wartburg, he averaged better than 39 yards on a career-high six punts.
The win a year ago over the Dutch was the team's first in the series since 2003 when the two teams met on a neutral field. It was also the first triumph against Central in Storm Lake since 1959. A win on Saturday would mark the first time since 1958 and 1959 that BVU has won back-to-back games in the series.
Kick-off is set for 1:00pm with a local radio broadcast available on 97.5FM KBVU. A link to a live webstream can also be found by going to www.bvuathletics.com.