CEDAR RAPIDS – Good luck, Steve Staker. You have your work cut out for you.
It will be hard for Coe’s head football coach to find something to complain about when he watches the latest game film.
Almost everything went right for the 25th-ranked Kohawks as they dominated Buena Vista on both sides of the ball for a 51-0 win in an Iowa Conference opener Saturday at Clark Field.
“The big thing for us is we haven’t had a shutout since I don’t know when,” Staker said. “I know (Coe assistant) coach (Larry) Atwater is ecstatic about getting a shutout and that’s with a lot of kids playing. I feel really good about it.”
The Kohawks had to elated by the first-half explosion that produced a 31-point second quarter and 44-0 halftime lead. Much of that was created or assisted by the arm of quarterback Jared McNutt.
Coe’s senior signal caller was impressive, completing all 17 pass attempts for 260 yards and three touchdowns all in the first half. After being sacked on the opening drive, McNutt was flawless. The success resulted from a total team effort.
“My receivers made me look good on a couple plays,” McNutt said. “I threw some pretty questionable balls and they made some plays. My offensive line blocked well. I didn’t get pressured all day.”
McNutt hit Jared Kuehner for two long gains longer than 42 yards in the first half and connected with him on a 5-yard TD pass with 6:52 left in the first. Kuehner stretched out to grab the high and wide pass, keeping the toes of both feet in bounds, giving Coe a 6-0 lead.
Kuehner finished with 113 yards, becoming the third Kohawk player to surpass 2,000 receiving yards in a career.
“He’s a freak athlete,” McNutt said about Kuehner. “You throw the ball anywhere in his vicinity and he’s going to come down with it. I’m glad he’s on our team.”
Keaton Juergens made a nifty spin move after catching a McNutt pass, scoring a 10-yard TD. McNutt added a 6-yard scoring strike to Kris Hopkins to put Coe up 41-0 with 5:14 left in the second.
McNutt and teammate Mark Atwater combined to complete 20 straight passes, tying the NCAA Division III record of most consecutive completions by two players on the same team set by Baldwin-Wallace in 1994.
“We go out there and make our reads and just play,” McNutt said. “Coaches put us in good position to make them.”
As the completions mounted, McNutt was aware he hadn’t thrown an incompletion, but didn’t know the number of attempts until someone told him.
“I was kind of aware what was going on,” McNutt said. “I was pretty confident throughout the whole game.”
Staker is banking on that boost of confidence to help for the rest of the IIAC competition, which resumes with next week’s home game against Loras.
“That was a great performance by Jared,” said Staker, noting he has backed up all-conference quarterback Brad Boyle in previous seasons. “That gives him confidence he can do the job. I feel really good about how he handled everything. That’s a plus for us as we head into the conference schedule.”
The Kohawks also amassed 251 yards on the ground and a whopping 533 yards of total offense. gage Mohs led the way with 71 and a score. Carvin Thompson had 54, and Brendan Leiran added 45 with two TDs. Leiran’s second lifted Coe to a 34-0 lead with 6:55 left in the second.
The Kohawks dominated up front as well, allowing plenty of substitutions in the second half.
“The offensive line really played well,” Staker said. “Even our second (stringers) came in there and played well, too. We got a lot of kids in the game.”
The defense stifled Buena Vista (0-4, 0-1). Coe allowed 242 yards, forcing four turnovers. All-American defensive lineman Frank Weymiller had a team-high eight tackles, including a sack and forced two fumbles.
“We got a few turnovers that were big. They were at opportune times,” Staker said. “That’s pretty important stat. When you take a look at teams who win the conference if you go straight to turnover margin, I guarantee you the team that wins the conference wins turnover margin.”
The offense was able to capitalize on them, helping Coe play to their potential and putting together a complete team performance.
“I was so proud of the defense for pitching a shutout and us putting up that many points,” McNutt said. “It’s about time for our offense to do something like this. We’re capable of it every time we step on the field.”