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Slow second half haunts Storm in loss to Wartburg

Michael Connor
Michael Connor

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Dylan Binion led a potent rushing attack with 110 yards and Wartburg scored 24 unanswered points to beat the Simpson football team 40-31 on Saturday in the Iowa Conference opener.

Simpson led by 10 points in the first half and held a 24-21 advantage at halftime before a 90-minute lightning delay over the break. Wartburg committed to the run following the delay, racking up 193 of its 277 yards rushing in the second half alone.

A late touchdown drive gave Simpson a chance down 38-31, but a holding call in the endzone resulted in a safety and allowed the Knights (2-0, 1-0) to kneel out the clock.

Sam Sasso threw for 362 yards and four touchdowns for the Storm (1-2, 0-1), who moved the ball with ease in the first half before slowing down in the final 30 minutes. Jackson Redmond caught nine passes for 100 yards and two scores and Ricky Reeve made seven grabs for 89 and two scores, both in the first half.

Reeve's second touchdown catch — a picturesque catch-and-run in which Reeve spun out of a tackle to score — gave Simpson a 24-14 lead with 3:42 left in the first half. Wartburg answered with a 1-yard scoring plunge by Binion, sparking the 24-0 run.

Simpson had a chance to extend its lead before the half but opted to go for it on 4th-and-goal from the 6-yard line with 29 seconds left. Sasso's pass was intercepted in the endzone, keeping it a three-point game.

Coach Speak
"We were hitting on all cylinders in the first half. We kind of hit a lull on both sides of the ball in the third quarter and never really got back in the game." — head coach Matt Jeter

Key Moments
Chumbley flips field position with tipped lateral: Simpson led 17-14 in the second quarter when quarterback Matt Sacia attempted to throw a lateral pass. Defensive end Trey Chumbley got a hand on the ball, and although Wartburg recovered, it ended up a 22-yard loss for the Knights. After a sack and a penalty, Wartburg punted on 4th-and-39. Two plays later Sasso hit Reeve for a 33-yard score as Simpson built its largest lead at 24-14.

Binion's long run changes game: With the game tied 24-24 in the third quarter, Simpson was forced to punt deep in its own territory, giving Wartburg the ball near midfield. Binion broke free for a 43-yard run to the Storm 6-yard line and Sacia gave the Knights the lead for good on a keeper.

Storm can't capitalize after onside recovery: Tailing 38-24 in the fourth quarter, Sasso mounted a scoring drive to pull within a touchdown. With all of his timeouts remaining, Matt Jeter opted for an onside kick with just under 5 minutes left. The move paid off when Redmond recovered the kick, giving Simpson the ball at its own 47. But the momentum came to a halt when Sasso was sacked on 2nd down and a pair of incompletions gave the ball back to Wartburg.

Numbers & Notes
Drew Jensen made a 43-yard field goal in the second quarter to tie Simpson's school record with 26 career field goals. He tied the mark set by Brett Majors (1999-2002).

Brendan Holmes intercepted a pass and Ryan Lehr forced a fumble that was recovered by Prince Krah, giving Simpson a turnover in 12 of 13 games during the Matt Jeter era. Holmes' interception gives Simpson five for the season, tying last year's total through just three games.

• Sasso threw four touchdown passes for the second straight game, becoming the first player to throw for four touchdowns in back-to-back weeks since Mike Donnenwerth in 2003. Donnenwerth threw five against Buena Vista on Oct. 25 and four at Loras on Nov. 1.

Up Next
Simpson hits the road for the first time in 2017 when it goes to Cedar Rapids to take on Coe next Saturday, Sept. 23. The Kohawks (3-0, 1-0) beat Nebraska Wesleyan 35-25 on Saturday.

Holmes named all-region
December 15, 2017 Holmes named all-region