This wasn’t the complete, dominant performance sixth-ranked Wartburg wanted to display in a battle of Iowa Conference first-place teams Saturday.
A quarter of it was, though, and that will certainly do.
The Knights (8-0, 5-0) scored 24 second-quarter points with a 20 mph wind at their back en route to a 31-3 halftime lead and 43-24 victory over Buena Vista (5-3, 4-1) that broke a tie with the Beavers, winners of eight straight league games, atop the Iowa Conference.
“Obviously coming over here and winning this game is big, but we can do better and that’s definitely what we’re gonna try to do,” Wartburg cornerback Spencer Capitani said.
“For the most part, we did alright.”
Wide receiver Taylor Jacobsmeier started a wind-aided scoring barrage two minutes into the second quarter with his third touchdown pass of the season, an 11-yard toss to Robbie Anstoetter on a reverse.
Linebacker Will Janssen picked off Bobby Brown eight plays later, and Michael Bohlke hit a 31-yard field goal to put the Knights up 17-3.
Wartburg’s defense followed with three straight three-and-outs against the offense that was ranked first in the IIAC coming into Saturday at 483 yards per game. The Beavers were held to 371 Saturday.
“I think it always starts for us with being able to stop the run,” Wartburg head coach Rick Willis said. “We had to be able to stop and contain their talented back and I thought, for the most part, we did a really good job on him.” Dylan Barrett ran for 84 yards, 61 shy of his average.
Two plays after that first three-and-out, Logan Schrader, who was 13-of-26 for 213 yards and an interception, hit a wide-open Jacobsmeier on a post pattern for a 44-yard touchdown with 4:10 to go that made it 24-3 Knights.
After Wartburg couldn’t take advantage of starting field position in BV territory on the next drive, the punt block team took matters into its own hands after the following defensive stop.
Skylar Dierikx broke through to block the punt and Taylor Hotek scooped the ball and scored from seven yards out with 38 seconds remaining. It’s the second straight week Hotek has scored on a blocked punt recovery.
Wartburg’s start was critical, too. An opening five-minute drive into the wind capped by Brandon Domeyer’s three-yard run gave the Knights an early lead.
“We ate a lot of clock and shortened the amount of time that they were able to have the ball with the wind at their back,” Willis said. “We took good advantage of the wind situation in the second quarter and were able to stretch the lead out.”
Wartburg was unable to capitalize when Rob Rottler recovered a muffed kickoff at the 28 that got caught in the wind, but killed almost half of the quarter before the Beaver offense was able to get on the field with the wind. BV settled for a 31-yard Tyler Stolen field goal on its only first-quarter drive.
But, the Knights couldn’t quite keep that going in the second half as Bobby Brown threw two touchdown passes and ran for another to make the score respectable. He finished 18-of-34 for 270 yards through the air.
“Second half, I don’t know necessarily that we didn’t come out with the same energy, we just didn’t have the same edge to us that we normally do,” Capitani said. “They were getting some plays in there. They had a couple nice calls for what we were doing. Hats off to them. They didn’t quit.”
The offense, which had a balanced 493 total yards (269 rushing, 224 passing) wasn’t as sharp in the second half either. With the wind at its back in the third quarter, Wartburg settled for Bohlke field goals of 21 and 34 yards on both of its drives.
The game was never in jeopardy — it was 37-10 after three quarters — but it wasn’t the way the Knights most wanted to win either.
“There were a few things that happened today on both sides of the ball that probably we haven’t been doing,” Willis said. “We probably had five or so drops in the game by receivers. I would agree that I don’t think our defense was quite as sharp as they have been on some other days. At the same time, this was a big ballgame and we came over here and took control of it. You can’t complain about a win like that.”
Brandon Richardson added a spark by bouncing off tacklers before sprinting into the open field for a school record 96-yard touchdown just over two minutes into the fourth. That run came two plays after Joe Stearns stripped Barrett of the ball at the Wartburg 4.
The Knights can clinch the IIAC’s automatic playoff bid with a win at last-place Simpson next week and its second straight outright league title with a Week 11 win over seventh-place Loras.
No. 6 Wartburg (8-0, 5-0) 7 24 6 6 — 43
Buena Vista (5-3, 4-1) 3 0 7 14 — 24
W — Domeyer 3 run (Bohlke kick) (9:31 1st, 7-0)
BV — FG Stolen 31 (2:37 1st, 7-3)
W — Anstoetter 11 pass from Jacobsmeier (Bohlke kick) (13:01 2nd, 14-3)
W — FG Bohlke 31 (6:21 2nd, 17-3)
W — Jacobsmeier 44 pass from Schrader (Bohlke kick) (4:10 2nd, 24-3)
W — Hotek 7 blocked punt return (Bohlke kick) (0:38 2nd, 31-3)
BV — Brown 1 run (Stolen kick) (11:17 3rd, 31-10)
W — FG Bohlke 21 (7:38 3rd, 34-10)
W — FG Bohlke 34 (3:13 3rd, 37-10)
W — Richardson 96 run (Bohlke kick failed) (12:41 4th, 43-10)
BV — Seitz 8 pass from Brown (Stolen kick) (8:26 4th, 43-17)
BV — Gilland 39 pass from Brown (Stolen kick) (5:08 4th, 43-24)
Rushing — Wartburg: Richardson 9-146-1, Domeyer 18-95-1; Buena Vista: Barrett 22-84, Brown 6-18-1
Passing — Wartburg: Schrader 13-26-213-1, Jacobsmeier 1-2-11-1; Buena Vista: Brown 18-34-270-2
Receiving — Wartburg: Anstoetter 5-78-1, Miller 4-64; Buena Vista: Gilland 5-115-1, Cave 7-99
Tackles — Wartburg: Janssen 11, Tranel 8; Buena Vista: Arnold 8, Schwartz 8 (1 TFL)
Attendance — 3,100