BLOOMINGTON - A powerful ground game and stingy defense led visiting Wartburg College to a 41-7 victory over No. 13-ranked Illinois Wesleyan's football squad in the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs at Tucci Stadium in Bloomington, Ill on Saturday, Nov. 23.
Sophomore running back Brandon Domeyer ran for three touchdowns and rushed for 161 yards as the champion of the Iowa Conference improved to 9-2, advancing to the second round against No. 6-ranked Bethel University (Minn). Bethel was a 70-13 winner over St. Scholastica on Saturday.
The Titans conclude their season at 9-2, having earned their third post-season bid in five seasons.
eading into the contest, IWU was ranked No. 13 in the most recent American Football Coaches Association Poll and No. 14 in the weekly D3football.com poll.
"We played like the weather," IWU head coach Norm Eash said. "We were pretty cold out there...we just didn't play up to our capabilities today. Everytime we got something going, we made a mistake ... momentum just killed us."
The Knights, from Waverly, Ia., dominated from the start. Sophomore quarterback Logan Schrader's 10-yard touchdown run in the first quarter capped an eight-play, 49-yard drive. Wartburg led 21-0 at halftime, and Schader would rush for another touchdown in the third quarter.
he Titans only score came with 1:06 left in the third quarter when senior quarterback Rob Gallik threw an 18-yard pass to senior wide receiver Tate Musselman. Sophomore Michael Kelley added the extra point to narrow Wartburg's lead to 35-7. The Knights responded on their very next drive, capped by Domeyer's third rushing touchdown, for the final tally.
Domeyer carried the ball 34 times for 161 rushing yards, while Schrader rushed for 77 yards on 10 carries.
"We executed very well and we are excited to move on," Wartburg head coach Rick Willis said. "We were able to play full throttle and keep the pressure on the whole game."
In his final game as a Titan, Gallik completed 16 of 34 passes for 200 yards. He finished with 6,622 career passing yards to become the all-time leader at IWU. His 204 completions is a new single-season record, topping his old mark of 188 in 2011. He also finished as the all-time leader in completions (544) and was second with 59 passing touchdowns.
Senior running back Devonte Jones carried nine times for 39 yards and finished his career with 1,035 yards, second in an IWU season only to Kurt Swearingen, who has the school record of 1,079 yards on 223 carries in 1977. Only three Titans have ever rushed for more than 1,000 yards in a season.
Defensively, senior linebacker Chris Simms led the way for IWU with seven solo tackles, and he assisted on seven more. Senior defensive backs Paul Panno and Tim Hollowed each had five solo tackles, while junior linebacker Connor Klein and sophomore cornerback Ben Bouie each tallied four solo tackles.