DECORAH—Running back Kyle Wood is already an all-American sprinter for the Central College track and field squad. In a few key plays Saturday, he looked like one on the football field as well, fueling a 45-26 win at Luther College.
Wood burst free for a 56-yard third-quarter touchdown run and rushed for a career-high 127 yards on just 12 carries. A converted defensive back, Wood came off the bench to give the Dutch offense a boost.
"Kyle's got great speed," coach Jeff McMartin said. "We tried to run some plays that really featured his speed and let him use his skills. I thought he took his opportunity and did a good job with it."
Central (6-1 overall, 4-1 Iowa Conference) outgained Luther (3-3 overall, 2-2 conference) 402-353 yards in the lengthy game which was delayed 20 minutes due to an injury to Luther freshman Chris Norton on a kickoff return. There was no immediate word on his condition.
Luther was able to match Central's firepower in the early going. Norse wide receiver Dalen Dirth set a new school record with 16 pass receptions for 138 yards. But Central's Ryan Schmidt scored on a blocked punt return early in the second quarter. Quarterback Nate Snead, who scored Central's first TD on a 3-yard run, gave the Dutch the lead for good with an 18-yard TD sprint with 7:05 left in the half. A fumble recovery gave Central a late first-half chance and Snead tossed a 1-yard pass to Jarred Lackey with 9 seconds left in the half to make it 28-14 Central at the break. Luther never got closer than 11 points the rest of the way.
Jake Viggers added a 31-yard field goal on Central's opening possession of the second half. Following Wood's TD, running back Erik Grunder completed the Dutch scoring with a 1-yard fourth-quarter run.
Snead rushed for a career-high 101 yards on 21 carries while completing 8 of 17 passes for 97 yards. It was the second time this year that Snead reached the 100-yard mark and it was the first time since Sept. 5, 2009 that Central had two players rush for more than 100 yards.
Defensive lineman Austin Hill had nine tackles for Central while linebacker Greg Best had eight stops. Hill was also credited with a blocked field goal.
"We got out in front early, which is what we wanted to do," McMartin said. "The blocked punt was a big, big play. Probably the only downside to it was that it put our defense back out there again. But overall it was a great effort by everybody. There are some things we've got to clean up, it wasn't a perfect football game. But I thought the guys battled hard and never quit. They kept a great attitude, even when things weren't going well."
Central is home for two of its final three regular-season games. Loras College visits next Saturday for a 1 p.m. game at Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium. The Duhawks, who were off this week, are 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the league .