The Dutchmen (1-1) drove inside the Bulldogs' 5-yard line with a 6-0 lead and eight minutes left in the game. The 'Dogs' defense came up with stops on first and second down to force MOC-FV into 3rd-and-goal.
The defensive line pressured the athletic MOC-FV quarterback on the third down play and senior Jeremy Singer intercepted the pass near the goal line, keeping it a one possession game. It was Singer's second interception of the game.
"Our defense stepped up and made some plays," said Le Mars head coach Gabe Tardive. "And that was the difference."
Le Mars (2-0) was able to pick up some yards and first downs on offense to move the ball away from the team's own end zone. The Bulldogs punted on fourth down near midfield with five minutes left in the game, but now had favorable field position.
The 'Dogs stepped up on defense again and held the Dutchmen on a three-and-out series. Le Mars took over near midfield once again after the punt.
Junior quarterback Levi Te Brink found senior Brennan Buss along the sideline on the second play of the drive for a 53-yard touchdown pass to tie the game 6-6 with just minutes left to play.
"We had a couple guys that flooded the zone there," Tardive said. "Chris Hatting was running free in the middle. The corner stopped on Chris, the safety came up and allowed Brennan to get open over top. Levi made a nice pass. It was a nice pass and catch.
"It was a nice play design. It was a nice call by Coach (Benji) Kasel. Chris being a good target and having two catches earlier in the game, I think they came up on him and let the guy go over top. Levi made the read. It was a good play for us."
Senior Conner Delfs stepped up and put the point-after kick through to give Le Mars its first lead of the game, 7-6. It was the defense that stepped up again after the kickoff.
MOC-FV quarterback Trey Achterhoff threw two incomplete passes on first and second down. Junior Alex Hermes hit Achterhoff on third down and forced a fumble. Senior defensive end Andy Heffner recovered the ball for Le Mars.
"The front seven did an outstanding job," Tardive said. "(MOC-FV) broke a couple runs early and after that they really tightened up. Chris Hatting had an outstanding game. Brody Mathey is doing a nice job getting penetration inside. David Lamp, defensively, played really well. Heffner makes plays out there. Travis Kinney did a nice job in the middle. Matt Strub recovered a fumble, had a pass breakup.
Te Brink found space on a bootleg on third down and ran in for a 13-yard touchdown to give Le Mars a 13-6 lead with over a minute left in the game. Achterhoff blocked the extra point, but the Dutchmen were unable to score in the dying moments of the game.
"Both teams worked hard," Tardive said. "It was an extremely hard-fought game all the way through. We left a lot of opportunities on the field early. We were lucky to capitalize late. The kids just hung in there.
"As coaches, we were very proud of the effort and just staying together, playing together and making big plays in the end to win the game."
The Dutchmen drove 60 yards on the opening drive of the game to get on the scoreboard with a 28-yard field goal from Rafael Perry. MOC-FV held the 3-0 through the first half as the Bulldogs struggled to finish off drives.
The Bulldogs took over at their own 17-yard line with 10:36 left in the second quarter and moved the ball down the field. Senior Kendall Candor ran for a first down and Te Brink later found Hatting for a 26-yard reception.
A first down run by Buss was negated by an illegal procedure penalty. A Le Mars fumble on the next play was recovered by Michael Tuttle to give possession back to the Dutchmen.
"That might have thrown us a bit off, but we handled it pretty well. A lot of our breakdowns were ourselves. Overthrown ball here, underthrown, just missing certain things. I don't think it was anything they did, it was more stuff we did. Penalties hurt us a little bit. Those kinds of things."
MOC-FV's lead was extended to 6-0 when Perry hit a 29-yard field goal in the third quarter.
The Dutchmen were held to 129 yards on the ground and 231 overall. Josh Wilson ran 22 times for 102 yards, but MOC-FV's four other ball carriers ran 17 times for just 27 yards. Achterhoff finished 5-for-21 passing for 102 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.
Heffner led Le Mars with 15 tackles (nine solo) and one sack. Kinney finished with 13 (seven solo) and senior Chris Hiserote made eight solo tackles while assisting on another.
Senior Gabe Rahn made six tackles. Hatting, Mathey and Strub made five tackles apiece. Strub had one fumble recovery. Singer made one tackle to go along with his two interceptions.
The Bulldogs still gained 293 yards against the Dutchmen defense.
Te Brink was 5-for-14 passing for 140 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. He also carried the ball 15 times for 67 yards.
Kinney had 14 rushing attempts for 49 yards. Candor carried seven times for 40 yards.
"It was a team effort," Tardive said. "They played well together. They stuck together, which we were proud of."
Le Mars begins district play this Friday against Sergeant Bluff-Luton (0-2). MOC-FV defeated the Warriors 21-6 in Week 1. SB-L lost 33-20 to Sioux City West last Friday.