Storm dominate second half, pull away from Illinois College

Carter Henken (70) and Cam Bunting (25)
Carter Henken (70) and Cam Bunting (25)

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Sam Sasso threw four touchdown passes, the defense held Illinois College to 110 yards in the second half and the Simpson football team rolled to a 45-13 win Saturday at Buxton Stadium.

One week after being held scoreless, the Storm (1-1) put on a show in the second half, scoring 38 unanswered points to pull away for the convincing win.

Simpson led 7-6 at halftime but wore down the Blueboys (0-2) in the third and fourth quarters, scoring on six of seven drives. The only thing that kept Simpson off the scoreboard in the second half was the final buzzer.

Sasso finished with 248 yards through the air, hitting Jackson Redmond on a pair of scoring strikes. Cam Bunting added a pair of touchdown runs to lead a balanced rushing attack, finishing with 57 yards. Simpson ran for 127 yards as a team after being held to 62 the previous week.

The defense suffocated Illinois College in the second half, allowing just 31 yards before a scoring drive with the game already in hand.

The Storm created three turnovers for a second straight week, getting interceptions from Ryan Lehr and Prince Krah and a forced fumble by Trey Chumbley. Chumbley led a determined pass rush with three sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss as the Storm finished with seven sacks on the day.

Coach Speak
"We came out and made the plays we needed to on offense, we made the plays we needed to on defense, and we really took it to those guys [in the second half]." — head coach Matt Jeter

Key Moments
Lehr's pick leads to first score: After Simpson was stuffed on a 4th-and-1 the previous drive, Lehr made his second interception in as many games to swing momentum in Simpson's favor. The sophomore snagged a tipped ball out of the air and took it 44 yards to the Blueboy 1-yard line. Bunting ran in for his first TD two plays later as the Storm took a 7-0 lead.

Chumbley's strip-sack triggers the rally: Trailing 7-6 and kicking off to start the second half, Illinois College surprised Simpson with a pooch kick, recovering on Simpson's 31. Three plays later, Chumbley strip-sacked Drew Chance and Nic Tusha recovered. Simpson answered with an eight play, 61-yard drive that ended in a 34-yard TD pass from Sasso to Ricky Reeve down the home sideline. The score gave Simpson a 14-6 lead and triggered a 38-0 run by the Storm.

McNally's first TD provides some breathing room: Looking to go up by two scores in the third quarter, Simpson mounted a commanding 12-play, 63-yard drive that culminated in a 3-yard TD catch by freshman Joe McNally. Simpson took a 21-6 lead, forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession and tacked on a 40-yard field goal by Drew Jensen.

Jackson or Odell?: Redmond didn't make his first TD catch until the 13:58 mark of the fourth quarter, but he made it a memorable one. Running a go-route down the left sideline, Redmond had to adjust to a slightly underthrown pass before leaping over an Illinois College defender to make highlight-reel, one-handed catch. The senior hauled it in with his right hand.

Notes and Numbers
• The 45 points scored by the Storm are the most in a winning effort since 2013 when they beat Dubuque in a 50-45 barnburner. Simpson scored 45 points in a losing effort at Wartburg on Nov. 7, 2015.

• Simpson's seven sacks are the most in a game since getting nine against Buena Vista on Nov. 5, 2011.

• Simpson intercepted two passes for the second straight game, giving the Storm four on the season. Simpson had five all of last season.

Up Next
Simpson opens Iowa Conference play at home next Saturday, Sept. 16 against Wartburg. The Knights (1-0) beat Monmouth (Ill.) 36-13 in their season opener Saturday. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.