No. 25 Wartburg overpowers Central football team

Central Dutch Athletics

Central Dutch Athletics

PELLA—Fueled by a powerful ground game, No. 25-ranked Wartburg College outmuscled the Central College football team Saturday, 44-20.

Wartburg (5-0 overall, 3-0 Iowa Conference) rolled up 519 yards offense, including 323 rushing yards, and controlled the ball for 34:41 of the game’s 60 minutes. Central drops to 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the league.

“Wartburg did a good job of running the football and controlling things,” said Dutch coach Jeff McMartin. “We weren’t able to get stops and get off the field. They possessed the ball for a long time.”

The Knights converted 8-of-15 third-down opportunities and were 3-of-4 on fourth down. On their opening drive, they raced 73 yards in five plays for a 7-0 lead. The Dutch had a quick answer as freshman quarterback Blaine Hawkins (Ankeny) scrambled for a 12-yard score, but Wartburg needed just 2:25 to regain the advantage and the bulge grew to 28-7 with 1:02 left in the half.

Central did show some late first-half life with a 37-yard Nathan Fitzgerald (junior, Elkader, Central HS) kickoff return, then streaking 46 yards in three plays to score in just 32 seconds. Hawkins hit S-back Kyle Gritsch (senior, Brooklyn, BGM HS) for a 16-yard TD that pulled the Dutch within 28-14 at the break.

But the second half was all Wartburg. Central’s only score followed a fumble that was forced and recovered by outside linebacker Tate O’Tool (sophomore, Fort Dodge, St. Edmond HS) at the 18-yard line. Hawkins then found tight end P.J. Norem (senior, Iowa Falls) on a 10-yard TD with 12:45 left in the game.

“We were able to generate some scores and we did move the ball at times effectively,” McMartin said. “But we had some costly penalties that hurt our offense and some mental mistakes that we’ve got to eliminate to be better.”

The Dutch were flagged 16 times for 62 yards.

Linebacker Sam Norgaard (senior, Naperville, Ill., Neuqua Valley HS) had his usual productive afternoon with a season-high 16 tackles, two off his career best.

“They ran the ball a lot and when they do that, hopefully your linebackers are making tackles,” McMartin said. “It was a great game for Sam.”

Strong safety Tate Jensen (senior, DeSoto, ADM HS) and linebacker Josh Scheible (senior, Kansas City, Mo., Liberty HS) each had 12 stops while lienbacker Tyler Olson (senior, Mapleton, Minn., Maple River HS) mad 11.

The Dutch managed 284 yards offense with 143 rushing. Running back Donny Groezinger (junior, Sulphur Springs, Texas; Eastland, Ill. HS) gained 53 on 11 carries. Hawkins completed 17 of 29 throws for 141 yards with an interception and two TDs while also rushing for 40 yards on 14 carries and a score. Wide receiver Sam Markham (senior, Atlantic) had six catches for 47 yards. However, after not yielding a sack in five games, the Dutch surrendered four.

“There are some things we’ve got to shore up that we’re doing up front,” McMartin said. “We gave up some sacks today. We’ve got to give our quarterback time to throw. I think we’ve got good wide receivers that we can get it to. We just didn’t execute in those phases of the game today and that really hurt us.”

Wartburg running backs Dylan Binion and Parker Hammel rushed for 142 and 123 yards, respectively while quarterback Matt Sacia was an efficient 16-of-22 for 196 yards.

The Dutch travel to Cedar Rapids next Saturday for a 1 p.m. game with defending conference champion Coe College. The Kohawks were off this weekend and are 3-2 overall with a 1-2 league mark. They outscored Central 33-30 at Cedar Rapids a year ago.

“For us, it’s about improving,” McMartin said. “We need to improve off of this and learn from it. We’ve got to come back and get better.”

With four games remaining in the season, McMartin wants to see a strong closing kick.

“Obviously, you want to take it one game at a time and one day at a time,” he said. “But we want to make sure our seniors and this program finish strong, and it starts on Monday. We want to have a great day of practice. We can be disappointed with this loss but we’ve got to keep our heads up, we’ve got to continue to battle, we’ve got to stay together as a team and get ready to play Coe.”

Posted by on Oct 8 2017. Filed under College Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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