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A long way to go for Wartburg

Taylor Jacobsmeier, a converted quarterback, is off to a strong start at wide receiver for Wartburg.
Photo by Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com 

Wartburg can add Saturday’s 31-14 win over the visiting Royals to its list of recent accomplishments, but the Knights have their sights on repeating in the IIAC and improving on last year’s playoff success.

“The bottom line is it’s the second week of the season and there’s a ton of football left to be played,” Wartburg head coach Rick Willis said after his then-No. 15 team took down previously seventh ranked Bethel. “Certainly, one of the goals for our team was to be able to beat Bethel — which we haven't done for the last several tries — but that's not the only goal that our team has for the season.

“So one hand, I want our guys to enjoy winning a big game,” he added. “But on the other hand, we want to make sure that we still take a critical look at ourselves.”

Wartburg hadn’t beaten Bethel in its last four tries dating to 2010. Those four losses included a pair of playoff defeats, including a 34-27 decision in the second round of the 2013 postseason. Last year’s season-ending loss served fueled the Knights coming into this Week 2 non-conference matchup.

“They've been a team that we couldn't really beat the last couple years, and they've taken it to us pretty good a couple times. It felt good to finally get them on our home field,” said Wartburg quarterback Logan Schrader, who passed for 388 yards and a touchdown Saturday in addition to rushing for two more scores.

“Last year, at the end of the season, we showed our potential,” he added. “That's kind of been our motivation this offseason.”

Trailing 7-3 at halftime, Schrader engineered four scoring drives in the second half, helping Wartburg pull away. He capped a pair of third quarter drives with touchdown runs and hit Taylor Jacobsmeier for a 55-yard touchdown in the fourth.

“It was just execution,” Schrader said of the offense’s second half success. “We started to put it all together. Everything clicked. We started executing. Everyone was doing their jobs and we were getting it done.”

“I think the biggest thing is we felt like we had opportunities to put points on the board in the first half. And for a variety of reasons we weren’t able to do that. A lot of those were mistakes that we were making,” Willis said. “If you’re going to win big games, you have to have some guys step up and make big plays. And our guys did that in the second half.”

The Knights’ defense turned in an exceptional effort; holding the Royals to just seven points in each half and limiting the visitors to just two successful third down conversions in 15 attempts.

“The defense was very consistent throughout the day while the offense was a little erratic,”...

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Columnist

Josh Smith photo

Josh Smith covers high school and Division III athletics for the Daily Jefferson County Union in Fort Atkinson, Wis. He has won multiple awards for reporting and photography and contributes to multiple publications in addition to his duties at the Daily Union, including D3football.com beginning in 2012. He graduated from UW-Whitewater with a degree in print journalism.

2011-12 columns: Jason Galleske
2010: Tim Walsh
2003-09: Adam Johnson
1999-2000: Don Stoner 

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