WAVERLY – Danny Stiefel won't soon forget his first Homecoming game at Wartburg College.
The junior from Sterling Heights, Mich., threw for a single-game school record 389 yards and tied a single-game touchdown pass mark with five during a 55-17 win over the University of Dubuque. A crowd of better than 3,000 witnessed the Orange and Black's rise to a 7-0 overall and 5-0 IIAC record.
"It feels great to play like this in a game like this," Stiefel said after he resumed the program's current streak of 100-yard-plus passing games to 39 in a row.
"Danny keeps getting better each week," Coach Rick Willis said. "A game like today is a huge confidence booster for him."
Stiefel and the Knights' offense churned out 646 yards, 411 coming through the air and 235 coming by way of the ground. Wartburg didn't wait long to get themselves on the scoreboard, either, with sophomore running back Brandon Sims (South Holland, IL), carrying in a pair of scores on their first two drives.
Dubuque (3-5 overall, 2-4 IIAC) used a little air flair of its own to stay close with the home side throughout the remainder of the half. Freshman quarterback Matt Levin threw a pair of scoring strikes in the opening half, as the visitors were trailing only 20-17 in the latter stages of the second stanza. However, a quick fire response in the waning moments of the second quarter proved key, as Wartburg moved 68 yards in 55 seconds to make the count 27-17 at the break.
"The score before the half was big," Willis said. "It got our offense going into what was a tremendous third quarter."
The home team, behind the arm of Steifel, scored four touchdowns in the third stanza. He hit Sims and junior wide receiver Levi Helbling (Malvern) twice each for the point total. Helbling ended the game with a sparkling 191 yards receiving and three touchdowns, while Sims proved tough on the ground and through the air. He rushed the ball nine times for 122 yards and the two early scores and had four catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns.
On the defensive end, the Knights' crew made itself a factor. Four sacks, two coming from junior defensive lineman Logan Hansen (Glenville, MN), and two interceptions each from sophomore defensive back Garrett McGrane (Fairbanks) and junior defensive back Josh VanDenHul (N. Sioux City, SD), helped lead the attack. Senior linebacker Blake Suckow (West Union) topped the tackle chart with 11.
Wartburg resumes Iowa Conference play Saturday, Oct. 30, when Luther visits Walston-Hoover Stadium for its gridiron clash. Kickoff is 1 p.m.
Notes – The 55 points scored the Knights were the most since a 56-7 win over Cornell in September of 2003. … Wartburg remains off to its best start in a season since the 2003 team ran the table in the regular season.