Down by 17 points with less than six minutes to play, the Wartburg football team scored two touchdowns and recovered an onside kick to nearly defeat host Central.
Logan Schrader threw what appeared to be a go-ahead 12-yard touchdown pass to Reese Thompson on 4th and 2 but the score was called back due to a holding penalty.
On 4th and 12, Schrader’s pass fell well short of his intended receiver in the endzone and the Dutch hung on for a 31-28 victory.
Central scored three touchdowns on its first three possessions and led 21-7 after the first quarter.
The Knights responded as Cywettnie Brown made a diving catch in the endzone on a 21-yard pass from Schrader to cut the lead to seven.
But less than two minutes later, De’Andre Currie broke free for a 33-yard touchdown run and Central led 28-14 at halftime.
Neither team could get anything going offensively in the second half with turnovers being a major reason why.
The Knights turned the ball over six times, including three Schrader interceptions, while the Dutch turned it over four times.
Brandon Steggal fumbled with 8:25 to play but less than three minutes later, Central quarterback Aaron Eiseler fumbled it back to the Knights.
On the second play of the ensuing drive, Schrader hit DJ Looft for an 85-yard score to climb within ten points.
The Knights held Central to a three-and-out on the next possession and took over at the Dutch 48.
Schrader led the team to the goal line where Thompson rushed in from one yard to cut the lead to three points, the slimmest margin of the game.
Frank Loconti’s onside kick was recovered by Wartburg at midfield, sending the sideline into celebration.
Wartburg had one minute and 53 seconds to try to tie or take the lead.
The Knights worked the ball down to the 12-yard line, where an incomplete pass brought up 4th and 2.
Loconti missed a 27-yard field goal attempt earlier in the game and Wartburg elected to go for it on fourth down instead of attempting a 29-yard field goal.
Thompson slipped out of the backfield and scampered into the endzone but a late flag brought the Knights back to the 22-yard line and brought up 4th and 12.
Looft faced one-on-one coverage in the endzone but Schrader’s pass fell short, leaving Wartburg with a heartbreaking 31-28 loss.
Despite turning the ball over four times, Schrader set a school record with 405 passing yards, going 28-of-49 with two touchdowns.
The Knights gained 103 yards on the ground with Thompson, Schrader and Brandon Domeyer sharing the load.
DJ Looft caught three passes for 148 yards and a touchdown while Steggal had eight catches for 88 yards.
Wartburg returns home Saturday to host Loras on Senior Day.