CEDAR RAPIDS – This victory was over the top for the Dubuque Spartans.
Not in a wild-and-crazy sense. Unless you consider a bunch of long passes wild and crazy.
Four of Bryan Bradshaw’s five touchdown throws in a 38-14 win over Coe on Saturday at Clark Field were of 26 yards or more. That included beauties of 51 and 65 yards to Tyler Rutenbeck.
Those weren’t short balls with long runs attached to them. They were legitimate, beautifully thrown deep patterns.
“That was part of our game plan,” said Rutenbeck, a junior from Maquoketa, who also had a 4-yard TD catch. Call it a small one he probably preferred to throw back.
“We knew that we had to take some shots,” he said. “We were hoping to catch them in the right defense to allow us to do that. We did a couple of times.”
Dubuque (4-2, 3-0 in the Iowa Conference) stunned a large homecoming crowd with three touchdowns in the second quarter for a 28-7 halftime lead. Bradshaw, a senior transfer from Division II Winona State, completed 11 of 18 first-half passes for 226 yards.
The Spartans did just enough running to keep Coe’s defense honest. That set up the play-action and rollout pass, which worked time and time again, with Dubuque’s receivers burning Kohawk corners and safeties.
Chris Bagley had TD catches of 26 and 28 yards to complement Rutenbeck’s two long scoring grabs.
“That was our big concern,” Coe Coach Steve Staker said. “They have good receivers with good speed. You wouldn’t know it, but we worked on that all week. Don’t let people get behind you. I just felt that once their quarterback got out on the edge running that our guys kind of took their eye off their receiver and lost a step or two. They started watching the quarterback and they got guys behind us.”
“What’s been good for us is that we’ve been able to throw the ball deep the entire year,” said Dubuque Coach Stan Zweifel. “We came into this game thinking about continuing to do that. We made some big plays. Bryan played really, really well, especially in the first half. I think a lot of it was set up through play action. It was big for us to be able to run the football.”
Which Dubuque did in the second half. Running back Kyle Acker had roughly half of his 151 rushing yards the final two quarters, as the Spartans chewed clock.
Even when Coe (5-1, 2-1) did have the football, it didn’t do much with it. The Kohawks were outgained in the game, 520-211, with sophomore QB Josh Rekers struggling to the tune of 10-for-25 passing for 60 yards.
This was a completely foreign feeling for Coe, its 16-game regular-season win streak snapped into itty bitty pieces. The Kohawks’ previous regular-season and IIAC loss came at the end of the 2011 season, also to Dubuque.
“They’re an excellent football team. Well coached and physical,” Zweifel said. “We have the utmost respect for Coe. But we really played well. We think we’ve played a difficult schedule. We’re 4-2, but we think if we played a little different schedule, we’d be 6-0 right now.”
Dubuque played three schools from the rugged Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference to begin the season, losing to Wisconsin-Stevens Point and nationally top 10-ranked Wisconsin-Platteville.
Speaking of nationally ranked, Coe (which was 16th) won’t be after this game.
“They humbled us pretty good today,” Staker said. “But one game does not a season make. We’ll regroup and be all right … These guys are resilient.”
Here is the game boxscore: