Hopp, Central roll up third football win, 37-7

PELLA—Finding yet another way to thrive, the Central College football team hammered out 364 rushing yards to run past Nebraska Wesleyan University Saturday, 37-7.

The Dutch (3-0 overall, 1-0 American Rivers) displayed a powerful passing attack in the season’s first two victories but running back Jason Hopp (senior, Earlham) was the offensive catalyst Saturday with 168 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries, just four yards shy of his career high.

“Jason had a really good game,” coach Jeff McMartin said. “He made a lot of good cuts. He felt where the hole was going to develop and did a good job of getting there. He timed things really well. I thought he played an outstanding game.”

Central, rated No. 16 by D3football.com, was limited to a somewhat modest 206 passing yards, although the Dutch still had 570 yards total offense and are averaging 605.7 yards for the season.

“Sometimes when (the statistics) don’t come out completely even or balanced, you can have a tendency to feel not as good but I look at it like, you know, this gives us a chance to show how versatile our offense can be and showcase a lot of different weapons.”

McMartin noted the Dutch still had their third different 100-yard receiver in as many outings as Tanner Schminke (fifth-year, Boone) had 120 yards on five catches, including a 57-yard TD scamper for the game’s first score with 10:12 left in the first quarter.

“The fact that we’ve had different guys lead our team in receptions and yardage each week is a good thing and a testament to the depth we have,” McMartin said.

He credited Nebraska Wesleyan for limiting Central’s opportunities to throw.

“(Nebraska Wesleyan) definitely wanted to take something away and make us one-dimensional,” McMartin said. “Watching them on film, we knew they had a good secondary and they did a good job of playing to their strengths. But then that leaves other things open and I thought upfront out guys played really well. We created some good matchups.”

Schminke, like the Dutch offense, is displaying versatility.

“Tanner was all over the field,” McMartin said. “He’s the holder on the extra point and field goal teams, he’s on other special teams and then he made some really big catches. That touchdown run was huge for us to really kind of get things going.

“Tanner had a great off-season. He worked extremely hard this summer and when people prepare as hard as he did, you should have high expectations for their performances.”

But the catch of the day came on a defensive play as cornerback Brayden Egli (senior, Saint Charles, Interstate 35 HS) stretched out to make a one-handed, juggling interception in the end zone.

“It was an amazing play,” McMartin said. “You didn’t even imagine that he could get to that ball and he did, then he just stayed with it. He just did an awesome job of executing.”

WATCH INTERCEPTION: https://youtu.be/5uWZl5yMepU

It was a big day for the Dutch defense, which stymied a typically productive Nebraska Wesleyan air attack. The Prairie Wolves (2-1 overall, 0-1 conference) completed 17 of 38 passes for 172 yards, including a 46-yard TD, and were limited to 64 yards on 31 rushing attempts. Central recorded two sacks.

“I thought our defense played really well,” McMartin said. “I told them afterwards that this is a team that scored 69 points two weeks ago (a 69-20 win over Eureka College Sept. 4). To keep them to seven points was great. I thought they made a lot of great plays and executed really well. We were able to play a number of guys without any drop-off.”

Four Dutch linebackers topped the tackle chart. Reid Taylor (senior, Polo, Ill.) and Josh Van Gysel (sophomore, Anthem, Ariz., Boulder Creek HS) each had eight stops while Cade Humphries (fifth-year, Geneseo, Ill.) and Tate Hagen (sophomore, Britt, West Hancock HS) each made seven. Taylor had 1.5 tackles for loss and forced a fumble as well.

“Our linebackers continue to improve each week,” McMartin said. “Coach (Nick) Mulder is doing a really great job with those guys and getting them in good positions where they can execute. I thought the defensive staff had a great game plan. You couldn’t ask for much more out of the defense.”

Central also got a defensive score when freshman linebacker Reid Pakkebier (Cedar Rapids, Kennedy HS) blocked a punt that bounded out of the end zone for a safety that pushed the lead to 16-0 with 12:54 left in the second quarter.

Hopp’s 5-yard scoring run put Central up 23-0 at the 7:52 mark before Nebraska Wesleyan got its only score. But the Dutch got the first of two touchdowns by running back Isaiah Walk (junior, Buffalo Center, North Iowa HS) with 1:32 left in the half to make it 30-7 at the break.

Walk added a 37-yard scoring run with 4:09 left in the third quarter before the Dutch took their foot off the gas. He finished with 81 yards rushing on just 10 carries.

Quarterback Blaine Hawkins (fifth-year, Ankeny) completed eight of 18 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Freshman Brady Ketchum (Mount Vernon) entered in the fourth quarter and was 6-of-6 for 56 yards.

Central travels to Indianola next Saturday for a 1 p.m. league game at Simpson College. The Storm is 0-3 overall and 0-1 in the league after a 42-22 setback at Coe College Saturday, but has played a brutal schedule, taking on No. 1-ranked Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas) and Wisconsin-Stevens Point in non-conference play.

Posted by on Sep 19 2021. Filed under College Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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