DUBUQUE, Iowa - The University of Dubuque football team opened league play on Saturday with a 23-21 victory over the Central College Dutch on Chalmers Field. The Spartans led early 3-0 and at halftime 10-7 and stretched the lead in the final half to 23-14 before the Dutch scored in the final minute of play to slice the Spartan lead to 23-21 as time expired.
UD 1-0 in IIAC action looked to their defense to stop the Dutch in an exciting defensive battle by both teams. In the end, statistically it was nearly equal. The Spartans finished the afternoon with 291 yards as the Dutch ended with 288 yards. UD had 18 first downs while Central had 16. UD's defense held the Dutch running game to just 56 yards in 24 carries. Credit the Spartan defense with five tackles for losses of 17 yards including two sacks: one by Blaine Snitker and one by Zach Marotta. Trevor Stauner led UD with 10 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Snitker finished with a pick 6, after intercepting the Dutch Aaron Eiseler from 26 yards and returned it for a touchdown in the second quarter.
The Spartans failed just once inside the redzone to score. Kyle Acker led all rushing with 111 yards with his longest being for 29 yards. Quarterback Bryan Bradshaw completed 22-46 passing attempts for 174 yards through the air. Tyler Rutenbeck led the receivers with seven catches for 65 yards and a touchdown in the third quarter. Sean Anderson caught six passes for 54 yards. Chris Bagley grabbed four passes for a gain of 17 yards. UD converted on just 5-21 third down conversions, but held the advantage in possession over the Dutch 34:10 to Central's 25:50.
In special teams play, Doug Lillibridge punted nine times for 335 yards with his longest on the day, a 61 yard punt. He pinned the Dutch inside their own 20 yardline twice. Preston Butler (Fr., DeForest, Wis.) came off the bench on kickoffs and average 65 yards on his four attempts for 260 yards. Kicker Curtis Prull was 3-4 in field goals in the victory, connecting from 20 yards in the first quarter, 37 yards in the 2nd quarter, and from 24 yards in the third quarter. His lone miss on the afternoon was from 27 yards in the second quarter.
UD will host the Luther College Norse next week on Chalmers Field for homecoming. The Norse enter the game on a 41-7 victory over the Loras College Duhawks in Decorah. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.