The football team came out on Saturday like someone had a fire lit underneath them. They defeated the Luther College Norse 43-28. The Duhawks had something to prove to themselves, to the Norsemen, and to the community: that they are a team that can compete and a team that has perseverance.
The Duhawks had a strong and quick second possession lasting only one minute. Junior Bob Kelly connected with junior Mikey Castoro for a 12-yard touchdown pass. They then went for a two-point conversion with a pass to senior Daman Davies. The Duhawks and the Norse both turned the ball over on downs, which then led to the Duhawks next scoring drive. Kelly eventually connected with senior Jon Powers for an 81-yard touchdown.
In the second quarter, Kelly found Castoro again for a 10-yard touchdown pass. The Norse finally found their way to the scoreboard with five minutes left in the half. This gave the Duhawks more than enough time to get the ball back and score. With a possession that only lasted 10 seconds, Kelly connected with Powers for a 41-yard touchdown. The Duhawks went into half leading 29-7. This would be the fourth time the Duhawks went into half leading the scoreboard. This time, though, it was different.
The Duhawks came back for second half even more powered up. They had a strong three-and-out, so Kelly could take over on the field again. This time senior Zach Minch had a 47-yard run for a touchdown.
The Norse had an evenly strong second half. Scoring once in the third quarter and twice in the fourth quarter left them short 15-points from a win. Senior Zach Minch had a 19-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter before the Norse scored their last time. The final score was the Duhawks 43 and the Norse 28.
This win is the spark they need going into what it questionably the biggest game of the year, the Key City Clash, Duhawks vs the University of Dubuque Spartans. This game is unlike any of the others on the schedule. It has more emotion, cheap shots, and taunting.
“As you go into the game against UD, you have to realize that it’s a rivalry game,” said Head Coach Steve Helminiak. “We have a long history with those guys; two schools in the same city, eight blocks away from each other is a big game and a terrific rivalry.”
“The team understands it, so it will be different from anything else we played this year,” he continued. “Anytime you talk about a rivalry game like this, you talk about being able to control your emotions. If you let your emotions get the best of you, that can be a major setback. But if you can control your emotions, control your composure, it can be a benefit for you. And I think one of the keys to the game for us is great composure.”
The team, overall, is pretty healthy and excited to come into this week. But the strongest aspect the Duhawks have going for them is their perseverance.
“Perseverance,” Helminiak said, “Perseverance. Our guys were faced with a great challenge throughout the season and it continued to get greater and greater as we did not find success in the win/loss column as we had anticipated. That can become one of your greater challenges, and it certainly was for our guys. But they have persevered and continued to battle and stay strong, even though there have obviously been some moments that were tougher than others. Some guys struggled. But they all continued to battle, and I am very, very proud of them.”
This is the final home game for the Duhawks. So come out and support the senior players as they face the Spartans at the Rock Bowl Saturday at 1 p.m.