Larry Happel, Director of Athletics Relations
PELLA — A couple of scary notes for opposing defenses to ponder emerged from Central College’s methodical 42-12 season-opening football takedown of the University of Northwestern-St. Paul Saturday.
Quarterback Blaine Hawkins (junior, Ankeny) shattered the school record he already shared, tossing six touchdown passes.
And coach Jeff McMartin thinks Hawkins isn’t anywhere near his peak.
“I thought Blaine did what we wanted him to do,” McMartin said. “He knew where he wanted to go with the football and he ran the offense well. There were a few passes he’d like to have back but he’s going to get better and we’re going to get better. We’re going to learn a lot from this but when the chips were down, he made the plays we needed to make.”
Hawkins misfired on five of his first seven passes and, after an early Central score following a rare but deftly handled interception by defensive lineman Matt Glockel (junior, Malvern, East Mills HS), the Dutch were empty on two other first-quarter possessions. But then Hawkins struck gold with TD passes on Central’s next five drives before taking a seat on the bench late in the third quarter. He completed 24 of 33 passes—including 22 of his last 26–for 299 yards.
Wide receiver Hunter Robinson (senior, Lisbon) snagged a career-high eight balls for 78 yards and two touchdowns while Tanner Schminke (junior, Boone) had seven catches for 110 yards and two scores. Tight end Ross Norem (senior, Iowa Falls, Iowa Falls-Alden HS) had three receptions for 25 yards and two touchdowns while Brady Johnson (senior, Stanton) had four receptions for 31 yards.
Overall, three Dutch quarterbacks were 29-of-43 for 330 yards with one interception and six TDs.
Central also gained 131 yards on the ground. Running back Jason Hopp (sophomore, Earlham), in his first start, gained 58 yards on 15 carries while freshman Benjamin Crist (Elizabeth, Ill., River Ridge HS) drew some early notice with 10 late carries for 43 yards.
“Offensively, we were able to play a lot of guys but, as the game wore on, we got better,” McMartin said. “We were able to work on tempo and things we wanted to do and we were efficient in the red zone.”
Central, which led 28-7 at intermission and 42-10 after three quarters, outgained the Eagles 461 yards to 239. The Dutch yielded 106 yards rushing and 133 through the air as Northwestern-St. Paul completed 14 of 30 passes.
“Defensively, I think you saw a group of guys really kind of getting used to how we’re going to play this year,” McMartin said. “They made a lot of stops. I thought that what we introduced in the preseason and even in the spring we were able to put on the field and execute today.”
Linebacker Connor Lewin (senior, Stillman Valley, Ill., Stillman Valley HS) had seven tackles in limited duty.
The schedule strength ratchets up next Saturday when DePauw University (Ind.) makes its first visit to Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium in Pella for a 1 p.m. game. Central stole away with a 16-10 rain-drenched victory over the Tigers in Indiana last year. Next week’s game is DePauw’s season opener.
“This is a good start but we can get a lot better and we need to get better,” McMartin said. “We’ve just got to continue to grow as the challenges increase from here on out.”