Sat, Nov. 5, 2011 - [Football]
By Jack Metz for the Sports Information Office
Wartburg 24, Loras 13
On a day that celebrated the Duhawk senior class' final game in the Rock Bowl - contributions by senior tight end Andy Brown and a blocked punt in the first quarter set the tone as Wartburg College defeated Loras College, 23-14.
Before the game Loras recognized eight seniors – linebacker David Zoeckler, defensive back Eric Meyer, receiver Gavin Kaiser, quarterback Vaughn Gesing, linebacker Zach Myers, tight end Andy Brown, defensive lineman Frank Pereiro, and team manager Kevin Zack.
The Loras and Wartburg offenses traded three-and-outs to start the game, but a Nicholas Nunley punt following Loras' first drive was accompanied by a 15-yard facemask penalty that set up Wartburg's offense on the Loras 42-yard line gave Wartburg a short field to work with.
Wartburg quarterback Dan Stiefel completed two passes to receiver Donald Miller for 12 and 25 yards each set up a 2-yard run into the end zone for running back Conn Dahlstrom to give Wartburg the early 7-0 lead.
Loras and Wartburg would both follow up with drives of eight plays that saw Loras quarterback Sean Brennan complete three straight passes and scamper for 11 yards before taking a hit that would force back-up quarterback Andy Didio into the game.
With under three minutes left in the first quarter Loras, Didio led a drive that lasted three plays before a Nicholas Nunley punt got blocked and recovered by Andrew Putz of Wartburg at the Loras 12-yardline and returned to make the score 14-0 in favor of the Knights.
The second quarter provided limited action as both teams had three drives that resulted in punts before the final possession for the Duhawks with just two minutes left before half.
Two runs that netted three yards seemed to show a conservative play call for the final minutes, but a 12-yard run from sophomore Javan Aimable set up the Loras offense on the Wartburg side of the field. Sean Brennan followed the play with a 28-yard completion to first-year receiver Nate Even, who then fumbled and recovered his own error to go another nine yards to put Loras at the 11-yardline.
Two more runs by Aimable that totaled eight yards set up a 3-yard touchdown from Sean Brennan to tight end Andy Brown with two seconds left in the half.
Sean Brennan went 17-24 through the air for 159 yards, along with two touchdowns thrown. Nate Even stood out for the receivers with 8 receptions for 73 yards, senior Gavin Kaiser battled injuries throughout the whole game limiting him only to one catch.
The Duhawk's offense was slowed in the third quarter, with three drives in total. Their last one yielded the best results - lasting nine plays and covering 28 yards - before punting it back to the Knights.
Wartburg added a field goal in the third quarter and added two more field goals in the fourth quarter to make the score 23-7 when Loras got the ball with five minutes to go in the game.
What would be Loras' final drive began at the Duhawks' 36 and started with a pass by Brennan that resulted in a pass interference penalty on Wartburg that moved the ball to the Wartburg 49-yardline. Brennan followed up with another long pass to receiver C.J. Daniels for 31 yards to get into the red zone.
One run and one pass that moved the ball two yards was quickly followed up with a pass from Brennan to senior tight end Andy Brown who rumbled 16 yards into the end zone to make the score 23-14.
With three minutes left in the game Tyler Wilker attempted an on-side kick that got through the first line of Knights return specialists and took a generous bounce but no Duhawk was in the area to recover the bouncing ball.
Wartburg's running game led by Reese Thompson took over for the rest of the game finding holes when they needed it most to hurt the Duhawks' chances of stopping the clock and getting the ball back.
A pair of seniors, Eric Meyer and Zach Myers, led the defensive charge for the Duhawks with a total of 13 and 9 tackles, respectively. Myers also added a fumble recovery while senior linebacker David Zoeckler contributed seven tackles and another one fumble.
The Duhawks will close the 2011 season on the road next week in Storm Lake, Iowa. Kickoff with the Buena Vista University Beavers (1-8, 1-6) is noon.