Down 17 in the fourth quarter. Wartburg’s homecoming. The Storm hadn’t beaten the Knights since 1997. All the odds were against the Storm, but a storm can brew anywhere at any time, especially in October.
In the biggest upset of the season in the Iowa Conference, the Storm (3-4, 3-2 Iowa Conference) defeated Wartburg in a 38-37 win in overtime. Wartburg (5-2, 3-2 IIAC) had scored a touchdown in the first overtime to counter Simpson’s, but the Knights needed seven points, not six, to tie it up.
Brenton Minish, a junior linebacker for the Storm, found a hole in the line, threw his body into the air, and found the football with his facemask. The block meant Simpson had upset the Knights.
“I was shocked to see the way it ended,” head coach Jim Glogowski said. “It was a great game to be part of.”
The game is also a confidence booster for the Storm.
“It’s pretty crazy to think that we beat them,” Glogowski said. “The guys seemed to have a different mentality during the game which was nice to see.”
Prior to the extra point attempt in overtime, Glogowski called his one and only timeout to set up a play to attempt the block.
“Our initial thinking was to send Taylor (Rogers) in there since he’s our tallest player,” Glogowski said. “I didn’t call the timeout to ‘ice the kicker,’ I just wanted to set up the block.”
Prior to the missed PAT, Wartburg kicker Marcus Williams missed a PAT in the second quarter.
“Looking back, that was a huge miss,” Glogowski said. “Those were some very huge points that we capitalized on throughout the game.”
Going into the fourth quarter, the Storm trailed 31-14 due to Wartburg running back Brandon Sims’ 106 yards and four touchdowns.
“We kept shooting ourselves in the foot,” Glogowski said. “Things kept falling into place for us which kept us in it.”
The fourth quarter comeback started with a six-yard pass made by sophomore Taylor Nelson to sophomore Michael Chia, which made it Nelson’s third scoring pass on the day. Chia also made his first appearance since injuring his knee earlier in the season.
As time was winding down, Simpson scored 10 points within the final two minutes to tie the game and send it into overtime. Simpson kicker James Gale made a 22-yard field goal at the 1:40 mark.
The game-tying score came with 11 seconds remaining with a 10-yard pass from Nelson to junior wide receiver Taylor Rogers.
Rogers led Simpson receivers with 97 receiving yards and three touchdowns in the game. Nelson threw for 358 yards with 38 completions of 53 attempts, which are both school records, with five touchdowns.
In the first overtime it was the same story. Nelson hooked up once again with Rogers for 10 yards, which made the score 38-31 Simpson.
Wartburg drove down the allotted 25 yards in the extra period in four plays before Minish’s block.
The special teams and offense may have been important factors, but it was the defense that kept things in check while holding the Knights scoreless in the fourth quarter.
“We started to give them fits late which frustrated them,” Glogowski said. “Our guys just played solid Simpson defense.”
Leading the Storm defense in tackles was linebacker Mark Cronin with 13 tackles, 10 being for a loss. Senior Braden Everding followed with 10 total tackles on the game.
“Will this win make or break our season? No,” Glogowski said. “What does matter is whether we can build off of this next week.”
Next week, the Storm travel to Decorah on Saturday to take on the Luther Norse (2-4, 2-2 IIAC) at 1 p.m.