DUBUQUE — A happy homecoming was not in the cards for the Duhawks on Saturday, as Loras fell 48-29 to the Buena Vista University Beavers.
For the second consecutive week, the Duhawks (1-4, 0-2) failed to keep up with their opponents after getting off to a solid start. After yielding a quick opening possession touchdown to the Beavers (3-2, 2-0), the Loras offense engineered an efficient first drive of their own, going 79 yards in just six plays for the answering touchdown.
Midway through the first quarter, trailing the Beavers 14-6, Loras head coach Steve Helminiak reached into his bag of tricks. On first-and-ten from the Buena Vista 44-yard line, first-year quarterback Robert Kelly dumped the ball off to sophomore receiver Josh Schulte in the flat, who then zipped it back to his quarterback. Kelly then sailed a deep ball to senior wideout Nate Even, who hauled in the pass just shy of the goal line. However, the officials on the field ruled that an illegal forward pass had taken place, and the highlight-reel-worthy gadget play was nullified.
“They said it was a forward pass, on the first one,” Helminiak said of the officials’ call. “It’s designed so he comes back, so it should be two laterals on the double pass. I’ve got to see it on film. I thought it was two laterals.”
The Duhawks head coach was not the only one who thought so. An air of confusion filled the stadium as the ball was walked slowly back to midfield.
“I don’t know how they did it,” said Helminiak. “They set the ball, and we were going to run the next play, and then they did it. But the officials came over and explained it, and I thought they did a good job. They said it was two forward passes.”
The illegal forward pass penalty effectively killed the Duhawk drive. After being pinned down on their own 1-yard line by sophomore punter Jeremy Peters, the Beavers, led by senior quarterback Bobby Brown, drove 99 yards in eight plays and pushed the Buena Vista lead to 21-6.
Kelly would add a 28-yard touchdown pass to Even in the second quarter, but the Beavers never took their foot off the gas. Despite a late fourth-quarter rally attempt – which featured an incredible juggling touchdown reception by Even, and a 70-yard scoop-and-score by sophomore sack artist Damon Davies – the Duhawks were unable to dam the Beavers’ offensive assault. Buena Vista piled up 607 yards of offense, and controlled the ball for nearly three full quarters in the contest.
On a weekend dedicated to honoring alumni from decades past, Duhawk youth was at the forefront in the Rock Bowl on Saturday.
“We’re a young football team,” said coach Helminiak. “We have ten seniors and 10 juniors, and the rest of them are pretty young. We’re playing with two freshman corners who are extremely talented and have great quickness, but it’s a matter of getting them more and more reps.
“We have a lot of young guys on the field right now, so we know it’s going to be a process, and it never happens as quickly as you want.” Helminiak continued. “They’ve got to learn how to win. We try to develop that stuff in practice, but it’s got to start carrying over to the games – and we’re confident that it will. We’re not losing faith by any stretch of the imagination. We’ll go back to work, work as hard as we ever have, and get ready for Central.”