DECORAH, Iowa – The 2013 Simpson football season came to a fitting end on Saturday.
It was a season filled with twists and turns, big plays and clutch performances, and Saturday was no different.
Taylor Nelson threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Brad Vogel on 4th down with 1:45 left in the fourth quarter and the Simpson football team came from behind to beat Luther 28-21 in the season finale Saturday afternoon.
The win marked the fifth time this season Simpson won a game after trailing or being tied in the fourth quarter or overtime.
"It wouldn't be a Storm football Saturday if the game didn't come down to wire," head coach Jim Glogowski said.
Nelson threw three of his four touchdown passes to Vogel as the Storm (7-3, 5-2) finished with their best record since 2008, Glogowski's first year as head coach. The win also secured a second-place finish in the Iowa Conference for a group of seniors that helped the program grow into a championship contender.
"These seniors have gone from 2-8 as freshmen to being a second away from a conference championship this year," Glogowski said.
Simpson would have tied for the league championship had it not been for a last-second loss to Buena Vista a week ago. As it stands, though, the Storm have finished second in the Iowa Conference two years in a row after tying for second a year ago.
"For two years in a row now, we can say that we were one of the top two teams in the league, which is a far cry from where we were when I got here," Glogowski said.
On a wet, sloppy day, Nelson threw for 242 yards, ran for 82 and Vogel caught eight passes for 126 yards. Simpson trailed 14-7 at the half before Nelson threw third quarter touchdown passes to Jake McCulley and Vogel to take a 21-14 lead.
The second touchdown pass to Vogel was set up when Carter Stephens forced a Luther fumble following a kickoff, giving Nelson and the offense a short field.
Josh Vos ran for 162 yards and Alex Hain had 104 to lead the triple option attack for the Norse (2-8, 1-6). Vos had two touchdown runs, the second of which was a 12-yarder that helped Luther tie the game 21-21 with 1:18 left in the third quarter.
The game-winning drive began after Luther was forced to punt deep in its own territory, resulting in Simpson starting at the Norse 43. Nelson rushed for 20 yards on the first play of the drive before being stopped for no gain and throwing three straight incompleitions.
With 1:50 on the clock and facing 4th-and-10, Nelson found Vogel down the seam for the score.
"Even when it's 4th-and-10, if our guys have a down, we feel like we can score," Glogowski said.
The Simpson defense struggled with the unique offensive game plan for three quarters before taking charge in the fourth, when the Norse managed just 16 offensive plays.
Special teams – particularly the play of punter, Logan Klein – were crucial for Simpson.
Luther had an average starting field position of its own 15 on the day and didn't start beyond its own 20 in the fourth quarter. Klein pinned the Norse inside their own 20 five times, including three inside the 5 and dropping two punts at the 1.
"Our punter did a phenomenal job," Glogowski said. "It was so muddy and windy, we just wanted to get it up in the air so it would sit down."