WAVERLY – Wartburg College continued its early-season defensive strength, holding Loras College to 130 yards of total offense during a 34-0 Iowa Conference win.
The Orange and Black sacked Loras quarterbacks Vaughn Gesing and Elliott Davison a combined six times with freshman linebacker Ryan Billings (Sterling, IL), accounting for two and two-and-a-half tackles for losses. Defensive coordinator Joel Dettwiler's crew was also opportunistic with a fumble recovery by sophomore defensive lineman Chad Crawford (Galena, IL), and interceptions by junior defensive back Josh VanDenHul (N. Sioux City, SD), and senior linebacker Josh Mugge (Cherokee).
Playing inside Walston-Hoover Stadium, the Knights (4-0 oevrall, 2-0 IIAC) received a firm battle from the Duhawks (1-3 overall, 0-2 IIAC) early. A pair of turnovers kept the visitors in the contest and, afer a fumble in Wartburg's end, Loras drove inside the Knights' 20 but could get no closer.
From the second quarter on, the home side took control. A pair of 75-yard-plus drives in the period gave coach Rick Willis' squad a 13-0 halftime edge. Sophomore running back Reese Thompson (Van Horne), upping his season touchdown total to five, bulled in from three and two yards out. It was more of the same in the second half with several individuals contributing.
Junior quarterback Dan Stiefel (Sterling Heights, MI), increasing the program's run of 100-yard passing games to 37 straight, turned in the big play in the third period. He hit senior wide receiver Jason Roskam (Sioux Center) in stride for a 62-yard scoring strike with 3:40 to play. The final stanza saw sophomore running back Brandon Sims (South Holland, IL), break away from the line and take the ball 34 yards for a score, and Mugge pick off Gesing and ramble 22 yards for the final touchdown.
Individually, the offense was led by Thompson with 25 carries for 94 yards, while Stiefel finished 11 of 23 for 168 yards. Roskam (84) and junior Levi Helbling (Malvern) (51) were each over 50 yards in receptions. The defensive tackle chart was topped by senior back Andrew Creary (Knoxville) with 10.
Willis' team takes its bye week next weekend and prepares for a pivotal two-game conference road trip. Wartburg goes to Buena Vista Oct. 9 and Coe Oct. 16 before coming back to Waverly for Homecoming 2010 and a date with the University of Dubuque Saturday, Oct. 23.
Notes – The defensive shutout was the first at home for the Orange and Black since a 14-0 win over Luther in November of 2008. … The six sacks were the most in a game since the 2008 team took down St. Norbert's quarterback nine times in a season-opening 44-20 win. … Willis stands one win shy of triple digits with a career record of 99-24. … The 4-0 record matches the 2007 squad's 4-0 start.