The mid-September weather was fabulous, but Carthage College's home football opener didn't turn out so well, as the Red Men (1-1, 0-0 College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin) were dismantled by Wartburg College (1-1), 27-3, on Saturday, Sept. 15 at Art Keller Field in Kenosha, Wis.
Wartburg struck early and often. The Knights got on the scoreboard on their initial drive, going 75 yards on eight plays, with Reese Thompson scoring from the 10-yard line at 11:25. A 14-play, 52-yard drive on their second series resulted in a 20-yard Knights field goal from Frank Loncoti at 2:09. That drive also ate up six minutes and 24 seconds.
Carthage collected its only points on the first drive of the second quarter that ended with a 29-yard field goal by Brett Bukari (Jr., Bloomfield Hills, Mich./Beverly Hills-Detroit Country Day) at 14:56 second period. Wartburg went up, 17-3, on the drive late in the half that went 80 yards in 18 plays and chewed up another six minutes and forty seconds. That scoring drive ended with a one-yard touchdown pass from Logan Schrader to Curt Hruska with 10 seconds remaining.
The Knights made it s 24-3 game with 10:36 to play in the third quarter on a 10-play, 56-yard scoring drive that ended with Reese Thompson scoring from the one-yard line. Frank Loncoti's 22-yard field goal with 8:08 remaining in the game closed out the scoring at 27-3.
Wartburg dominated the time-of-possession, 43:27 to 16:33. The Knights rolled up 458 total offensive yards, 249 yards passing and 209 rushing, while Carthage had 208 total yards, just 18 of that on the ground and 190 in the air. Wartburg's Reese Thompson ran for 119 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. Logan Schrader completed 21-of-30 passes for 209 yards, with Donald Miller catching six of those for 76 yards. Carthage quarterback A.J. Simoncelli (Fr., Downers Grove, Ill./South) completed just eight-of-22 passes for 142 yards, and running back Reggie Miller (Jr., Downers Grove, Ill./South) ran for 28 yards on seven carries. Red Men cornerback Mickey Johnson (So., Chicago, Ill./St. Rita) collected a game-high 13 tackles (12 solo, 1 assisted), including a tackle-for-loss.
"It wasn't much of game," admitted Carthage coach Tim Rucks. "We got handled in every phase of the game. Wartburg did what we thought they would do, but they came more ready to play than we did. Their offensive line set the tone for the game. They had a lot of long drives and just ate up the clock. The two offensive lines were the story, how good theirs was and how little protection we offered our quarterback. If there was a bright spot, our special teams play was very good. If you invest in something like Carthage football, you need to be embarrassed by a game like this. Our job between now and Lakeland next Saturday night is to get this right."
Carthage plays host to Lakeland College (0-2) on Saturday, Sept. 22 in a 7 p.m. game, also at Art Keller Field.