Loras falls to Coe in IIAC opener
DUBUQUE — In the first quarter of Saturday’s Iowa Conference opener at Coe, the Duhawks couldn’t do anything wrong. In the three quarters that followed, however, they couldn’t do anything at all. Despite their dominating first quarter performance, the Duhawks were unable to mount any kind of an offensive threat for the rest of the game and fell to the Coe College Kohawks, 36-10.
After recovering a Kohawk fumble on the opening kickoff, Loras needed only four plays and a little over a minute to post the game’s first points, as first-year quarterback Robert Kelly found senior wide receiver Nate Even in the left side of the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown. It was Kelly’s first touchdown pass as a collegian. Loras would extend the lead to 10-0 on a 20-yard Mason Quigley field goal with 2:14 remaining in the first.
But what the first quarter giveth, the second quarter taketh away.
Coe got on the board with a 34-yard field goal from sophomore Brandon Abbas after a short Loras punt into the teeth of the gusting October wind. Fumbles by junior Nate Carrier and first-year Isaac Cloward gave the Kohawks a short field on their next two possessions, both of which resulted in touchdowns.
“The two fumbles were crucial,” Duhawks’ head coach Steve Helminiak said. “They were turning points. They scored fourteen points off of them, so that was the biggest factor in the game. In the first three games, when something bad would happen, we were able to pick each other up, and it didn’t happen today.”
Coe took a 17-10 lead into the locker room at halftime and never looked back. The Kohawk co-quarterback committee of Josh Rekers and Gavin Glenn dinked and dunked the Duhawk defense to death in the second half, dominating Loras in yardage and time of possession on their way to a decisive victory.
The Duhawk passing attack, which came into Saturday’s game ranked first in the Iowa conference, struggled to find any rhythm in the absence of senior quarterback Dylan Jones. A combination of off-target passes and dropped balls kept the Duhawks grounded, as Kelly went 18-38 for 161 yards and a touchdown in his debut as a starter.
“Any time you play a freshman, there’s going to be some freshman mistakes,” said coach Helminiak. “I don’t think Bob played an awful game. There may have been some first game jitters, but every snap, every rep he gets, he’ll get better. Having him go through four quarters of football was a big positive for us. He’ll grow from that, he’ll make huge strides from this game to the next, and I think that’s the biggest plus we’re going to get out of it.”
As the Duhawks (1-3, 0-1) get set to host the Buena Vista University Beavers (2-2, 1-0) for Homecoming this weekend, coach Helminiak is hoping to re-ignite the spark his team flashed in September.
“I think we were a little flat today, and I think we’ve got to be a little bit more intense in practice,” said Helminiak. “We’ve got to be a little bit more excited when something good happens and get that fun feeling back. Football is an emotional sport, you have to have fun while you’re playing it. We want to get back to that feeling.”