With a 41-20 win on Saturday over the Nebraska Wesleyan Prairie Wolves, the Wartburg football team finished their regular season undefeated for the first time since 2014 and for the fifth time under head coach Rick Willis.
After the game, Willis said this team was different compared to the undefeated teams he has coached in the past.
“I think the thing about this group is the adversity they fought through a year ago and how hard they worked in the offseason. Just how much they’ve stuck together,” Willis said.
Nebraska Wesleyan struck first with an opening drive touchdown, but on the kickoff return, Jake Kloft took the kick back 95 yards for a touchdown to even things up.
After a quiet rest of the first half, other than another Prairie Wolves touchdown, Wartburg trailed heading into the halftime break 13-7.
Senior Riley Brockway said the team was beating themselves in the first half, but talking at halftime really helped them prepare for the second half.
“We talked about playing our game,” Brockway said. “In the second half we did our job, stayed on schedule on first down and it worked out.”
Brockway was a major factor in the offensive explosion that the Knights put on in the second half. He caught a school record tying four touchdown passes, broke the record for most career pass receptions and recorded 245 yards for the game, finishing just 14 yards shy of another record.
Willis said he was very happy for Brockway.
“He’s been awesome this year, he does everything right. It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy,” Willis said.
Other players that had big games for the Knights include quarterback Matt Sacia who also tied a school record for most touchdown passes in a game, five, one of which came on a triple-reverse play that resulted in Sacia finding Griffin Brennecke in the endzone.
Defensively the Knights front seven won at the battle at the line of scrimmage consistently. They held the Prairie Wolves’ starting running back, Shaka Taylor, to just 54 yards on the ground and also sacked quarterback Jonathan Curti eight times.
Sam Ambrose said the biggest key for their dominance was just the continued effort they showed.
“He’s a tough guy to get down, but we were persistent, we were getting after him and we did what we needed to,” Ambrose said.
The Knights will now turn their attention to the NCAA Tournament next week. They do not currently know where or who they will be playing, but will find out after the selection show on Sunday.