The Central (Iowa) coach told his football team Saturday morning at the team breakfast that if the team found itself tied with No. 19 Whitworth in overtime, it was going to go for two.
The Dutch did just that as receiver Kohle Helle outran the defense and clipped the pylon to give the Dutch a 50-49 overtime win over the Pirates at the Pine Bowl.
“That decision was made in the pregame meal,” Central coach Jeff McMartin said. “We are on the road against a ranked team. What do we have to lose?”
The two-point conversion ended a day full of improbable offensive plays for both teams. The Pirates came from behind multiple times and survived a missed 32-yard field goal by Central the end of regulation before taking a 49-42 lead with a Duke DeGaetano touchdown in overtime.
But the Dutch scored again and put the ball in the hands of Helle, who somehow got the ball across as Whitworth’s Luke Peterson pushed him out of bounds.
“We just didn’t make enough plays. It was a great game,” Pirates coach Rod Sandberg said. “We’ll find out a lot about our character in how we respond to this.”
The only thing that seemed to limit the offenses was the time of the game. The teams combined for 1,098 yards of offense. Whitworth quarterback Ian Kolste had a career day, completing 38 of 56 passes for 467 yards.
That included an 83-yard strike to Garrett McKay, who led all receivers with 163 yards on six catches.
“They just got us that one play,” said Pirates receiver Nick Kiourkas, who caught five passes for 66 yards and a touchdown. “It’s not a good feeling. But I’ll still take our defense over their offense, any day.”
Central quarterbacks Riley Gray and Nate Borland combined for 406 yards passing and five touchdowns. Running back Donny Groezinger gained 117 yards on 28 carries on the ground.
“They did a great job. They made a lot of plays when they needed to,” Whitworth defensive coordinator Adam Richbart said. “We’ve got to be more opportunistic, but that was a very good football team.”
Whitworth scored first with a field goal. The Pirates gained the lead three times, lost it three times and were tied three times.
The Pirates looked like they finally had the game in hand when Kolste hit Kiourkas for a 17-yard touchdown with 11:57 to play to take a 42-34 lead.
But Central’s Groezinger scored from 2 yards out and the Dutch converted a two-point conversion to tie the game at 42 with 8:49 to play.
The game went to overtime only after Central’s Aaron Marcellus missed a 32-yard field goal with a few seconds remaining in regulation.
Despite a quick score from DeGaetano, the Dutch answered and the two-point conversion ended the Whitworth’s hopes.
“We have to get better,” Richbart said. “We’ll find out this week what we are made of.”
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