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WAVERLY — A six-point loss at Monmouth College lit a fire under the Wartburg College football team.

The Knights’ response was a strong week of practice, culminating in an emphatic, bounce-back win during Saturday afternoon’s American Rivers Conference opener at Walston-Hoover Stadium. Wartburg scored four first-quarter touchdowns and controlled play throughout a 63-0 thrashing of Buena Vista.

“We just came hungrier than before,” Wartburg’s sophomore playmaking defensive back and punt returner JoJo McNair said. “We practiced really hard this week and needed to make a statement.”

Running back Bennett Goettsch led Wartburg with four touchdowns — three rushing and one receiving — while McNair returned a punt 55 yards and an interception 38 yards to set up scores.

“He’s dynamic,” Wartburg coach Rick Willis said of McNair. “When you can get explosive like that in the kicking game, it really makes a huge difference. Whether it’s plays that score or just setting you up with field position, it really dictates the game.”

Adding to the special teams woes for Buena Vista (1-2, 0-1) were two punts snapped over the punter’s head for major fourth-down losses. The Knights blocked two additional punts with Dane Steidler returning one 15 yards for a touchdown.

Wartburg’s defense held the Beavers to one first down in the opening half — seven for the game — and 100 yards of total offense with negative eight rushing on 39 carries. Willis saw improved tackling from the group compared to last week’s loss.

“We had more physicality to us,” Willis acknowledged. “We were hitting guys and not letting them fall forward, which was a trouble last week a little bit. We got a little more pressure on the quarterback, so I think there was some positive things that way.”

Often capitalizing on short fields, Wartburg (2-1, 1-0) received 199 passing yards from starting quarterback Matt Sacia through one half of action. He completed passes to six different receivers on 13 of 23 throws.

Goettsch rushed for 69 yards on eight carries, with a long of 31 on the Knights’ opening scoring drive, as developing the run game has been a point of emphasis early this season.

Reserves played throughout a second half in which Wartburg tacked on three more touchdowns while preserving the shutout.

“They played to the standard we expect,” Willis said. “It doesn’t matter who is in there, there’s the same expectation and I think the guys did a good job of going out there today and maintaining that. It’s good to get a lot of guys involved and be able to evaluate them.”

Wartburg 63, Buena Vista 0

Buena Vista 0 0 0 0 — 0

Wartburg 28 14 14 7— 63

First quarter

Wart — Bennett Goettsch 31 run (Kain Eagle kick), 11:20.

Wart — Goettsch 2 run (Eagle kick), 9:00.

Wart — Dane Steidler 17 blocked punt return (Eagle kick), 6:40.

Wart — Goettsch 4 pass from Matt Sacia (Eagle kick), 2:04.

Second quarter

Wart — Goettsch 17 run (Eagle kick), 8:48.

Wart — Denison Harrington 13 pass from Sacia (Eagle kick), 3:38.

Third quarter

Wart — Connor Bailey 14 run (Eagle kick), 11:30.

Wart — Max Goodhue 33 pass from Noah Dodd (Matt Milewski kick), 6:51.

Fourth quarter

Wart — Isaac Lursen 1 run (Milewski kick), 5:34.


BV Wart

First downs 7 21

Rushes-yards 39-(-8) 37-144

Passing yards 108 259

Comp-att-int. 17-37-2 17-28-1

Return yards 0 207

Fumbles-lost 1-0 0-0

Penalties-yards 8-42 3-35

Punts-avg. 13-27.5 5-37.2

Time of possession 33:30 26:30



BUENA VISTA — Josh Werge 11-23, Kobi Martin13-13, Cole Miller 6-4, Dylan Laughlin 1-3, Bryland Menicucci 3-3, Taylor Youngblood 3-minus 12, Caleb Hall 2-minus 42.

WARTBURG — Bennett Goettsch 8-69, Connor Bailey 10-50, Isaac Lursen 6-31, Jace Moore 1-8, Mason Carter 7-8, Matthew Huff 2-minus 7, Matt Sacia 2-minus 15.


BUENA VISTA — Cole Miller 13-30-1, 60 yards, Youngblood 3-5-0, 33 yards, Laughlin 1-2-1, 15 yards.

WARTBURG — Sacia 13-23-1, 199 yards, Jace Moore 2-3-0, 12 yards, Noah Dodd 2-2-0, 48 yards.


BUENA VISTA — Eric Pacheco 4-27, Kobi Martin 4-6, Chris Ramirez 3-8, Menicucci 2-14, Ashante Appleby 1-32, Caleb Herrick 1-15, Ross Adamson 1-7, Josh Lange 1-minus 1.

WARTBURG — Will Hasken 3-49, Denison Harrington 3-48, Goettsch 3-19, Jax Bryngelson 2-49, Brendan Childs 2-25, Max Goodhue 1-33, Kolin Schulte 1-24, Jacob Leisinger 1-12, Davion Houston 1-0.

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Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for The Courier

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