Central rallies to win playoff opener

Erik Knaack

PELLA — Central College pulled off a dizzying comeback Saturday in first-round NCAA Division III football playoff action as the Dutch scored a 38-37 overtime triumph over Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

No. 23 Central (10-1) advances to face third-ranked Wheaton College (Ill.) next Saturday.

Quarterback Blaine Hawkins lofted a 32-yard pass to Erik Knaack (Gladbrook-Reinbeck) in the corner of the end zone to make it 31-31 with 15 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime.

Hawkins’ shovel pass to Knaack gave Central a 6-yard touchdown in overtime. Oshkosh (8-3) answered with a 14-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-10, but their two-point conversion pass fell incomplete.

Knaack finished with six catches for 103 yards and three touchdowns.