DECORAH, Iowa -- Cam Bunting ran for 153 yards and three touchdowns, Michael Connor led a stout defensive effort that held the league's best rushing attack in-check, and the Simpson football team beat Luther 27-17, spoiling homecoming at Carlson Stadium on Saturday.
Connor made 13 tackles and forced the fumble that ended Luther's final drive as the Storm (6-2, 5-1 American Rivers) limited Luther's triple-option attack to just 175 yards on the ground, 62 below its season average.
Simpson's win combined with Coe's 27-24 overtime win over Central allowed the Storm to move into a three-way tie for first in the league standings with two games remaining. Simpson hosts one of the teams in the tie—Dubuque—next weekend.
Tanner Krueger passed for 263 yards, throwing a 50-yard touchdown to Austin Hronich in the second quarter. Ricky Reeve caught six passes for 90 yards to lead the receiving corps, safety Ryan Lehr made eight tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss and cornerback Prince Krah broke up three passes.
Bunting reached two major milestones on the day, going over 1,000 yards rushing for the second-straight season and surpassing 2,000 yards rushing for his career.
Quarterback Ian Kuykendall threw for 146 yards and ran for 143 to lead the Norse (1-7, 1-5).
HOW IT HAPPENED
Simpson led the entire game but saw its lead shrink to three when Kuykendall's 1-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter made it 20-17. The Storm responded with a five-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a 5-yard touchdown run by Bunting, his third of the day. The drive got a boost from a 15-yard facemask penalty Krueger's 39-yard strike to Ricky Reeve.
A pair of second-quarter touchdowns helped the Storm build a 17-point lead. Bunting ran in from 2-yards out early in the quarter, and Krueger hit Austin Hronich on a 50-yard strike with 9:12 left for a 20-3 lead.
The offense sputtered after the long touchdown to Hronich, punting on 6 of the next 7 possessions. The other drive ended in an interception by Jeremy Whalen, which Luther turned into seven points. A 3-yard scoring run by Kuykendall made it 20-10.
Simpson's defense forced a three-and-out after going ahead 27-17, then the offense iced the game with a 14-play, 68-yard drive that chewed up 4 minutes, 26 seconds. The drive ended at the Luther 4-yard line, but Connor stripped Kuykendall three plays later to seal the win.
- The Simpson defense held Luther to just 175 yards rushing, the lowest total for the Norse in more than three years. Wartburg held Luther to 110 yards rushing on Oct. 24, 2015, a span of 32 games.
- Bunting reached two major milestones on the day. He surpassed 2,000 career rushing yards on a 30-yard run in the second quarter and went over 1,000 yards rushing for the second straight season when he rattled off a 26-yard run midway through the third quarter.
- Nathan Hawkins punted eight times for 308 yards, pinning Luther inside its own 20 on four occasions and contributing to a starting field position of the Luther 26.
- Ricky Reeve reached 90 yards receiving for the second straight game. He caught nine passes for 97 yards last week against Loras.
- Quarterback Tanner Krueger became just the fifth player in school history to pass for more than 2,000 yards in a season. He currently has 2,050 on the year.
Simpson hosts Dubuque next Saturday, Nov. 3 for Senior Day at Buxton Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.