Injuries, injuries, injuries. That’s the story early on for the 2015 Duhawk football team. With a plethora of defensive players knocked out of the lineup, the team limped into the season opener at Elmhurst leaning heavily on the offense.
That pressure seemed to come down on the legs of sophomore starting quarterback Bob Kelly, who hurt his knee early in the game. Tied at 17 in the fourth quarter, a surge by the Blue Jays handed the Duhawks a 31-17 defeat.
The week 2 home opener brought even more question marks, with first-year quarterback Nolan Baumhover making his starting debut.
As expected, the offense came out utilizing short throws, screen passes, and quick-hit running plays to get Baumhover feeling comfortable early on. After going three-and-out on their first possession, it looked like the Loras offense was in for a long day. It did end up being a long day for the Duhawks, but not in the way that the opening drive suggested.
Exploding for nearly 800 yards of total offense, it was a fireworks display of big play after big play. Long runs, one-handed catches, short slants going for long gains; the offense did it all. The pre-game expectation of Baumhover simply managing the game were thrown out the window as he took control with his arm and legs. The former Western Dubuque prep racked up a school-record 380 yards passing, his feet wet with high-percentage plays. Then it was Nik Schulte who proved that he could run this offense seamlessly. Having weapons like younger brother Josh Schulte, and proven senior wideout Nate Even to help him through, Nik Schulte ended with 220 yards passing, including a perfectly thrown 53-yard touchdown to Even who ended with 125 receiving yards on the day.
Despite 797 yards of total offense, and enormous efforts like the 173 yards and 2 touchdown day by Josh Schulte, the Duhawk defense proved unable to stop UW-Stout. Preseason All-American Maurice Young was sidelined with an injury, and his services were missed. The UW-Stout offense attacked the one-on-one matchup no matter who was in the game replacing Young.
With the lack of stops on the defensive side of the ball the Duhawks lost the game, 52-42, despite outperforming Stout in time of possession, passing, and rushing yards.
“We’re really banged up at every position,” Duhawks coach Steve Helminiak said. “That’s part of the game, but I don’t think too many teams are banged up like we are right now, especially after only two games.
“We’re going to keep preaching to our guys, ‘next man up.’ Whether you’re on the scout team or you’re a starter or a backup, you’ve got to be ready to go,” Helminiak said. “I think our guys understand that better than ever with all the injuries we’ve had.”
The Duhawks will look to get their first win on Saturday when they host Augustana in the Rock Bowl.