Furious Homecoming rally falls short

Loras struggled to find any semblance ofrhythm on offense in the early portion of Saturday’s Iowa Conference opener against Coe, and the slow start proved too much for the home team to overcome. Despite scoring 20 points in the fourth quarter, the Duhawks’ rally fell just short as the Kohawks hung on for a 30-27 victory during Loras’ Homecoming Game in the Rock Bowl.

“We started slow,” Loras coach Steve Helminiak said of his team’s early offensive struggles on Saturday. “We couldn’t get anything going offensively, and we were totally out of sync in the first half.”

Senior quarterback Nik Schulte, who set new Loras single-game passing records for yards, touchdowns and completions in his debut start two weeks ago, couldn’t quite find his groove against Coe. Schulte completed 16 of 31 passes for 189 yards with a touchdown and an interception before being replaced by first-year Nolan Baumhover late in the third quarter.

“Nik just couldn’t get a rhythm going, for whatever reason,” Helminiak said. “He knew the calls, he knew the reads; he just couldn’t get in rhythm, and it didn’t feel like it was going to happen. That’s why we made the change to go with Nolan.”

The Duhawks offense, which averaged an NCAA-best 469 passing yards per game prior to Saturday, found its rhythm with Baumhover at the helm. The former Western Dubuque prep completed 19 of 26 his attempts for 193 yards and two touchdowns in the late comeback bid.

“I came in with the mindset of ‘there’s always the possibility that you’re going to play,’ and it really benefited me today,” Baumhover said. “When coach called my name I just got warmed up and got ready to go.”

Loras (1-3, 0-1) went 3-and-out on its first four possessions and managed only six first downs in the first half. Coe moved the ball well in the early going, but the Loras defense stiffened in their own territory, forcing the Kohawks (2-2, 1-0) to settle for field goals on their first three scoring drives. Coe led 9-0 early in the second quarter.

The Kohawks grabbed up a Loras fumble after Schulte mishandled a shotgun snap. They needed only two plays to extend the Coe lead to 16-0 on a 26-yard touchdown run by Sam Lahr. Lahr finished the game with 126 yards on 16 carries. Coe quarterback Josh Rekers added a 60-yard scoring strike to Elijah Phillips, and junior wideout Danny Willis hauled in an 80-yard touchdown from Schulte to get Loras on the board and make the score 23-7 in favor of Coe at the half.

Rekers would add an early third-quarter touchdown pass to make the score 30-7 before Baumhover reignited the Duhawk offense. Baumhover’s two passing touchdowns – a leaping, juggling grab by Mikey Castoro and a perfectly thrown touch pass to Zach Minch – and a Minch rushing touchdown brought the Duhawks within three late in the fourth. Despite Baumhover’s spark and a series of impressive stops by the defense, Loras was unable to finish off the comeback.

“We really thought we were going to win the football game when we got the ball on the last drive,” Helminiak said. “We came up short, but our guys battled to the end. That’s part of our character, it’s who we are. We’re never going to quit. We’re just going to keep battling.”

The Duhawks will continue their Iowa Conference schedule this weekend, as they travel to Storm Lake on Saturday to take on Buena Vista (1-3, 0-1). Log on to Duhawks.com for live stats and coverage

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