The #15/18 ranked Wartburg Knights football team saw their record setting season come to an end on Saturday with a 41-27 loss to the #3/#3 UW-Oshkosh Titans.
This was the first appearance in the Elite Eight for Wartburg since the 2014 season and head coach Rick Willis was very happy with how his team performed, even with the loss.
“Couldn’t be prouder of our team. Our team had the mindset that we were coming up here to win, they gave us a shot,” Willis said.
It was a tough day for the Knights’ run game as they were held to just 73 yards after factoring in yards lost on sacks. They did get a touchdown run from quarterback Matt Sacia, a score that set a new school record for total touchdowns in a single season.
Sacia also threw for 263 yards and a pair of scores to tight end Matt Mulford and wide receiver Riley Brockway. The ball was distributed well by Sacia as he found eight different receivers, led by Brockway with 82 yards on eight catches and Griffin Brennecke’s 82 yards on six receptions.
After the game Brockway expressed his pride in the team and all they accomplished this season.
“I think us getting here, you know, this is where we should be,” Brockway said. “Felt like we had a good team, felt like we could make a deep run in the playoffs, so getting back here felt like this is where we should be.”
On the defensive side, Wartburg allowed a season high 41 points and the Titan offense gained over 500 yards against a team that had only allowed more than 30 points in a game once all season.
The Knights only trailed by three going into the halftime break, but were outscored 21-10 in the second half.
Tony Anstoetter recovered a fumble and led the team with 14 total tackles in his final game and was very emotional after the loss.
“In a couple days we’ll be able to look at this and we’ll be a little bit happy about it, but right now it just kind of hurts,” Anstoetter said.
The loss ends one of the best seasons in program history in which they tied the school record for wins and won their first IIAC title in three years. Willis said the senior class will be missed at Wartburg.
“They leave a big legacy, you know. Tied the school record for number of wins. This group leaves with two championships, but more importantly, you know I think it’s the way their represented our program and our conference,” Willis said. “A great group of guys that made a commitment, followed through on their commitment and did something special.”