INDIANOLA, Iowa – On a day when the temperature reached well into the 90s, the hot Simpson offense matched Mother Nature every step of the way.
Taylor Nelson threw for 210 yards and four touchdowns, eight runners combined for 352 yards and the offense accounted for more than 600 total yards as the Simpson football team overwhelmed Iowa Wesleyan, 55-21 to open the 2013 season.
Nelson completed 16 of 18 passes in one half of work, connecting with Brad Vogel on a pair of touchdown strikes. Vogel – a preseason All-American receiver and kick returner – hauled in eight passes for 139 yards, including a picturesque 79-yarder in the final minutes of the first half.
"Those guys have been working extremely hard since last season ended," head coach Jim Glogowski said of his quarterback and receiver. "Their hard work is paying off. They were very accurate. They did a great job of reading each other's movements. They executed at a very high level, which is great to see us pick up where we left off last year."
As impressive as the passing offense was, the ground game stood out the most.
Despite failing to produce a 100-yard rusher on the day, two players reached 90 yards as Simpson enjoyed its highest rushing output since 1999. Ethan Calvert had 91 yards and a touchdown, freshman Jordan Beem had an outstanding debut with 90 and two touchdowns and Nelson scrambled for 74 yards.
It was a tough first day of Division III football for the Tigers, who were a member of the NAIA's Mid-States League a year ago. The former Iowa Wesleyan president who sparked the change was Jay Simmons, who now presides over Simpson College. The quirk resulted in the game being unofficially dubbed "The Simmons Bowl."
Zandro Diaz threw for 310 yards and Ridge Hobbs caught seven passes for 159 yards and a touchdown to lead Iowa Wesleyan.
The Storm scored on seven straight touchdowns before their first punt in the third quarter and led 41-7 at the half, allowing 66 players to see time.
Simpson seemed unaffected by the heat, a testament to its depth.
"[The heat] was a tremendous factor – maybe more for them than us," Glogowski said. "I think our numbers and ability to play many guys really helped us. I give all the credit in the world to our training staff and our coaches and our players, because they were prepared. We talked all week about the heat not being an excuse and playing above and beyond it."
Nelson completed passes to nine different receivers and threw for four or more touchdowns for the fourth time in his career. His 88.9 completion percentage is the second-highest single-game performance on record at Simpson and the most since Mike Donnenwerth in 2003.
The Storm's 609 yards of total offense and 58 points were also the most since 2003.
Glogowski was pleased with the performance, but knows there is still work to be done before next week's meeting with Gustavus Adolphus.
"We didn't play perfect," he said. "We have some things to work on, and they say you make your biggest improvements from week one to week two and hopefully that's the case coming up."
Simpson travels to St. Peter, Minn. for a 1 p.m. kickoff against the Gusties on Saturday, Sept. 14.