DUBUQUE, Iowa – Quarterback Taylor Nelson set school records for completions and attempts and the Simpson football team scored 27 unanswered points in the second half but ran out of time in a 45-40 loss to Dubuque on Saturday.
Dubuque built a 38-6 lead in the third quarter before Simpson came back, cutting the lead to 38-33 on Nelson's second rushing touchdown of the game early in the fourth quarter.
After trading scores, Simpson got the ball back with 1:23 left trailing by five. But the drive ended when Nelson threw his fourth interception, bringing on the victory formation for Dubuque.
"We just dug ourselves too big of a hole," head coach Jim Glogowski said. "Most teams would have packed it in, but our kids really fought and made play after play to get back in it. Ultimately, the mountain was too tall to climb."
Nelson broke his own school records by completing 40 of 61 passes for the Storm (5-3, 3-2 Iowa Conference). The junior also holds Simpson's career records in both categories with 572 completions and 941 attempts, passing Mike Donnenwerth (2000-03).
He threw for 338 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 60 yards and three touchdowns as the Storm racked up 531 yards of total offense in 90 plays, just three shy of the school record set back in 1999.
But turnovers and a slow start were too much to overcome, as Dubuque scored 21 points off of four Simpson turnovers and held a 24-6 lead at halftime.
"We made too many mistakes as a team and didn't have enough time to come all the way back," Glogowski said.
Wyatt Hanus went 23-for-33 for 376 yards and five touchdowns and Tyler Rutenbeck caught eight passes for 190 yards and four touchdowns for the defending conference-champion Spartans (3-5, 2-3).
After holding Dubuque to a three-and-out on the first drive of the game, Nelson connected with tight end Alex McCarty on a six-yard touchdown pass. The extra-point attempt failed – the first of two missed PAT kicks – as the Storm held a 6-0 lead.
For the next two quarters it was all Dubuque. Hanus threw three touchdown passes to close the half, including an 80-yarder to Rutenbeck.
The Spartans picked up where they left off in the second half, getting a 4-yard touchdown run from Kyle Acker and a 26-yard touchdown reception from Rutenbeck.
Down 38-6, Simpson responded with a 10-play, 63-yard drive that culminated in a 6-yard strike to Brad Vogel with 5:57 left in the third quarter. Vogel did it himself on the next drive, scampering for an 80-yard touchdown run off a quick pitch, the third-longest run from scrimmage in Simpson history and longest since 1999.
Vogel's 90 yards led Simpson's rushing attack, which gained 193 yards. He also caught 7 passes for 60 yards and a touchdown.
Nelson ran for a pair of touchdowns to pull within 38-33.
After allowing scores on six consecutive possessions, the Simpson defense forced two three-and-outs, recovered a fumble on a punt and created a turnover on downs as part of six stops in the second half. Mark Cronin led the defense with eight tackles and pass breakup.
The Storm will look to snap a two-game losing streak next week when it travel to Storm Lake, Iowa to play Buena Vista. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.