November 26, 2013

Knight and day difference for Wartburg

More news about: Wartburg

Brandon Domeyer rolled up 161 yards on the ground in the first-round win at Illinois Wesleyan.
Wartburg athletics file photo by Julie Drewes

By Josh Smith
D3sports.com

Wartburg’s journey to the IIAC title hit a speed bump earlier this month with a loss to conference rival Coe. But since that loss, the Knights have used a strong ground game and a stingy defense to make their way into the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs.

Now, after thumping Illinois Wesleyan 41-7 in the first round Saturday, Wartburg will try to avenge its only non-conference loss of the season when the Knights travel to Bethel for a second-round game.

“What coach was really stressing is what makes a team great is how well they bounce back from a loss,” said sophomore running back Brandon Domeyer, who rushed for 161 yards in Saturday’s playoff win. “I think we’ve really been taking that mentality to practice and (are) working hard every day to try and get better.”

After the loss at home to Coe, Wartburg picked up a 16-14 win over Central and a 59-3 win at Loras to wrap up the conference title and earn an automatic berth into the postseason.

“The biggest thing, I think, is our team has just continued to fight and play hard regardless if things are going well or if they’re not going well,” head coach Rick Willis said. “That’s a trait that teams learn, and we’re fortunate that this team has learned how to do that.”

The Knights carried that momentum into the postseason, where they raced out to a 35-0 lead en route to picking up their first playoff win since 2008.

Domeyer scored three touchdowns in the victory over the Titans and quarterback Logan Schrader added 76 yards two scores on the ground.

“All the credit goes to the offensive line. All I really had to do was take the ball and run it,” Domeyer said after his team racked up 274 yards on the ground. “They played a great game.”

Meanwhile the Wartburg defense held Illinois Wesleyan to minus-5 yards rushing and forced seven turnovers.

“Obviously, turnovers are huge. Our defense has really been gaining a lot confidence in the past month – the past five or six weeks, really,” said Willis, whose team intercepted four passes and recovered three fumbles. “They’ve really kind of hit their stride. They’ve kind of carried us through a few big games down the stretch here.”

With the solid play on both sides of the ball, the Knights’ coach is optimistic about the way his team is playing headed into its second round matchup at sixth-ranked Bethel.

“Throughout the year there’s been times where we’ve played pretty well offensively and other times where we’ve played pretty well defensively,” Willis said. “We really had yet to put together what we felt was our best in all three phases on the same day. And I think we came as close to doing that over at Illinois Wesleyan last Saturday as we have all year.

“So hopefully, we can continue that and that will give us confidence moving forward.”

Wartburg would like to get off to a quick start again Saturday when they travel to Arden Hills to take on the Royals.

“Momentum is such a big part of these games, and getting off to a good start is a big part of that,” Willis said.

When the Royals won their non-conference meeting with Wartburg in September, they got off to the fast start. Bethel scored 30 straight points en route to a 30-17 victory.

“At that point in the season, we were a pretty inexperienced team, I would say,” Domeyer said. “We’ve gained a lot more experience. I think we’ve gotten a lot better as a team.”

Bethel, which is 11-0 and has won its games by an average margin of 29 points, is the favorite to win Saturday following a 70-13 win over St. Scholastica. But Willis said people may have overlooked his team when matched up with Illinois Wesleyan.

“There weren’t a lot of people outside of our locker room that were giving us much of a chance,” Willis said. “I think anytime you’re in the playoffs, you’re always trying to earn respect for your school and for your conference, and that was certainly something that was on our guys’ mind.”

The coach said his team is excited to still be alive and is looking forward to an opportunity to atone for its regular season loss at Bethel.

“We have a chance to try to redeem ourselves,” Willis said. “I think they are fully aware of the tremendous challenge that Bethel will present to us, and are excited about the opportunity to go up and see how much we’ve progressed since the 14th of September.”

“We need to get off to a better start. We need to do a better job of controlling the turnover situation,” he continued. “We’ve certainly got to tackle better. Our tackling was not very good up there early in the season.”

Sep. 1: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Coast Guard at Anna Maria
7:00 PM
Defiance at Baldwin Wallace
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Johns Hopkins
7:30 PM
Trine at Manchester
8:00 PM
Millsaps at Belhaven
Sep. 2: All times Eastern
TBA
Muhlenberg at Wilkes
6:00 PM
Mass-Dartmouth at Mount Ida
6:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Wesley
7:00 PM
N.C. Wesleyan at Stevenson
7:00 PM
Western New England at Springfield
7:00 PM
Fitchburg State at Becker
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Albright at Salisbury
7:00 PM
WPI at MIT
7:00 PM
Salve Regina at Worcester State
7:00 PM
Bridgewater State at Curry
7:00 PM
Morrisville State at St. Lawrence
10:00 PM
Adrian at Pacific
Sep. 3: All times Eastern
TBA
Endicott at Framingham State
TBA
Kean at Christopher Newport
TBA
King's at Moravian
Live Stats
TBA
Lebanon Valley at Franklin and Marshall
TBA
Marietta at Denison
TBA
McDaniel at Catholic
TBA
Wisconsin Lutheran at Trinity Int'l
TBA
Sewanee at Kenyon
TBA
UW-Platteville at George Fox
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Washington U. at Carnegie Mellon
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Chicago at Case Western Reserve
12:00 PM
Husson at Alfred
12:00 PM
SUNY-Maritime at Maine Maritime
Video
12:00 PM
Cortland at Heidelberg
12:00 PM
Otterbein at Buffalo State
12:00 PM
Ursinus at Bethany
1:00 PM
Plymouth State at Castleton
Live Stats
1:00 PM
RPI at Norwich
1:00 PM
Randolph-Macon at Dickinson
1:00 PM
Oberlin at Kalamazoo
1:00 PM
Emory and Henry at Ferrum
1:00 PM
Wooster at Washington and Jefferson
1:00 PM
Alfred State at William Paterson
1:00 PM
St. Vincent at Alma
1:00 PM
Concordia (Wis.) at Finlandia
1:00 PM
Olivet at St. John Fisher
1:00 PM
Rowan at Widener
1:00 PM
Hobart at Brockport
1:00 PM
Union at Ithaca
1:00 PM
Susquehanna at Lycoming
1:00 PM
Utica at Misericordia
1:00 PM
The Apprentice School at Methodist
1:00 PM
TCNJ at UW-Whitewater
1:30 PM
Wilmington at Bluffton
1:30 PM
Monmouth at Hope
1:30 PM
Bridgewater at Gettysburg
1:30 PM
Muskingum at Waynesburg
1:30 PM
Juniata at Grove City
2:00 PM
Lakeland at Carroll
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-Stevens Point at St. Norbert
2:00 PM
Austin at Hendrix
2:00 PM
Maranatha Baptist at Martin Luther
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Millikin at Greenville
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Eureka at Knox
Live Stats
2:00 PM
MacMurray at Rockford
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Gustavus Adolphus at Westminster (Mo.)
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-La Crosse at Luther
2:00 PM
Beloit at Lake Forest
2:00 PM
Concordia-Moorhead at Jamestown
2:00 PM
Crown at Hamline
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Carleton at Macalester
2:00 PM
Bethel at Dubuque
2:00 PM
St. Scholastica at St. John's
Live Stats
2:00 PM
St. Olaf at Grinnell
2:00 PM
Buena Vista at Mayville St.
2:00 PM
Simpson at UW-Stout
2:00 PM
Aurora at Carthage
2:00 PM
UW-River Falls at Coe
2:00 PM
Ripon at Concordia-Chicago
2:00 PM
Elmhurst at Loras
2:00 PM
Huntingdon at Louisiana College
2:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at Robert Morris-Chicago
2:00 PM
Benedictine at Wheaton (Ill.)
2:00 PM
John Carroll at UW-Oshkosh
2:30 PM
Southern Virginia at Earlham
Live Stats
2:30 PM
Lawrence at Presentation
4:00 PM
La Verne at Puget Sound
Live Stats
4:00 PM
Central at Whitworth
5:00 PM
Hartwick at Western Connecticut
6:00 PM
Wabash at Albion
6:00 PM
Maryville (Tenn.) at Berry
6:00 PM
Augustana at Mount St. Joseph
6:00 PM
Thomas More at Franklin
Live Stats
6:00 PM
Hampden-Sydney at Averett
6:00 PM
Redlands at Trinity (Texas)
7:00 PM
Hiram at Westminster (Pa.)
7:00 PM
Thiel at Allegheny
7:00 PM
Capital at Wittenberg
7:00 PM
Shenandoah at Gallaudet
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Illinois College at Rose-Hulman
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Hanover at Centre
7:00 PM
Geneva at Frostburg State
7:00 PM
Nichols at Westfield State
7:00 PM
Greensboro at Guilford
Live Stats
7:00 PM
LaGrange at Birmingham-Southern
7:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern
7:00 PM
Anderson at North Park
7:00 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Mary Hardin-Baylor
7:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Texas Lutheran
7:10 PM
St. Thomas at UW-Eau Claire
Video Live Stats
8:00 PM
Willamette at Rhodes
8:00 PM
Cornell at Iowa Wesleyan
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Augsburg at Northwestern (Minn.)
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Southwestern Assemblies at Howard Payne
8:00 PM
Sul Ross State at UT-Permian Basin
Dec. 18: All times Eastern
Final
Mount Union 49, at St. Thomas 35
@ Salem, Va.
Box Score Recap Recap Photos