Capitalizing on turnovers helps Hawks cap season with victory, finish above .500


FAYETTE, Iowa — For the first time in his head coaching career, Gary Bass had the Quincy University football players dump a water cooler over him at the end of a game.

“Now I’m cold,” he said with a laugh.

The Hawks responded to a second-quarter deficit by scoring three times in the final 5 ½ minutes of the half, built a four-score advantage and capped the season with a 38-28 victory over Upper Iowa in Great Lakes Valley Conference play at Harms-Escheid Stadium.

“I was proud of our kids’ fight,” Bass said at the end of his seventh season as QU’s coach and 13th season overall with the program. “It would have been really easy for the guys to pack it in after losing the last three heartbreakers. They dug in. They fought hard. We came out with a ‘W.’”

The victory means the Hawks finish with a 6-5 record, the first winning season under Bass and first since the 2014 squad went 6-5. In fact, this is just the fifth winning season in the past 28 years — all five times the Hawks finished 6-5.

“Finishing 6-5 isn’t what we had hoped for,” said Bass, whose team sat 5-2 before enduring a three-game losing streak. “But our guys showed resiliency and battled to finish this season on a high note.”

The response to Upper Iowa taking the lead was impressive.

A blocked punt the Peacocks returned for a touchdown gave them a 7-0 lead two minutes into the second quarter. Seven minutes later, the Hawks tied the game when JQ Brown scored on a 2-yard run to cap a 13-play, 74-yard run.

“They didn’t flinch at all after the blocked punt,” Bass said. “We said stuff happens. Guys said the heck with it, let’s go play.”

An interception by Lazerick Hill at midfield led to a field goal, and another interception by Hill on the first play of Upper Iowa’s next drive set up Teon Dollard’s 7-yard touchdown run for a 17-7 halftime advantage.

In the third quarter, redshirt freshman quarterback C.J. Simms scored on a 5-yard touchdown run and threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Lawrence as the advantage ballooned to 31-7.

Simms, making his first career start, completed 11 of 20 passes for 69 yards and no interceptions. In fact, Quincy didn’t turn the ball over a single time.

“(Simms) went out and operated the offense,” Bass said. “He took care of the football and completed some passes that we needed him to complete. He kept us going and the kids followed him.”

The Hawks rushed for 219 yards with Dollard leading the way with 74 yards on nine carries.

“We got traction offensively and started pounding the rock,” Bass said.

It led to a victory that got the Hawks over the hump.

“We did a better job of cashing in on opportunities whenever our defense got turnovers,” Bass said. “We found a way to come away with a big victory.”

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