October 15, 2011

Simpson stuns No. 19 Wartburg in overtime

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WAVERLY, Iowa - Brenton Minish needed only a fraction of a second to erase 13 years of frustration.

It was the hand of Minish that blocked Marcus Williams' extra point attempt in overtime, giving Simpson a stunning, 38-37 come-from-behind win over No. 19 Wartburg on homecoming Saturday at Walston-Hoover Stadium.

Simpson made up a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit in the win, its first over Wartburg since 1997.

The win is easily the biggest of the season for the Storm (3-4, 3-2 Iowa Conference), who have now won three of their last four games.

"We have just been getting better every week," head coach Jim Glogowski said. "We have started to develop a confidence offensively and defensively we overcame some injuries today. As a team, we never got down."

Taylor Nelson's 10-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Rogers with 11 seconds left in regulation completed the comeback, as Simpson trailed 31-14 to begin the quarter.

Nelson threw five touchdown passes on the day - three to Rogers - and set school records for completions (38) and attempts (59).

Nelson needed only two plays to put the Storm in the endzone in overtime, hitting Ben Coy for a 10-yard gain and finding Rogers in the endzone on the next play, giving the Storm a 38-31 lead.

On the ensuing possession, Reese Thompson scored from four yards out for the Knights (5-2, 3-2), who missed two extra point attempts prior to overtime.

"The credit goes to the kids," Glogowski said. "We got down by 17 but we didn't panic. I felt like when we kicked the ball away with eight minutes to go that we had a shot. And when they punted with a minute left I knew we had a shot."

Trailing 31-21, a 22-yard field goal by James Gale brought Simpson within a touchdown. The Simpson defense forced a three-and-out on the next possesion, putting the ball back into the hot hands of the Simpson offense with 1:07 on the board, one timeout and 43 yards to go.

Nelson targeted Rogers five times in seven plays on the final drive. Rogers drew two pass interference calls, caught an 11-yard pass and hauled in the 10-yard touchdown with only seconds remaining.

Nelson threw for 358 yards on the day and came within a touchdown of tying the school single-game record, continuing his steady improvement in his second year as Simpson's signal-caller. The sophomore has thrown for more yards (1,826) through seven games than he did all of last year(1,301) and has 13 touchdowns against only four interceptions. He eclipsed 300 yards passing for the third time this season Saturday and the second game in a row.

"[Offensive coordinator] Joe Beschorner and our staff have done a very good job of developing him," Glogowski said. "The thing I've noticed the most about Taylor this year is that handles the flow of the game very well. He doesn't get too high and he doesn't get too low and he is able to understand his mistakes after he makes them."

Seven different receivers caught passes, led by Mike Kuhn's 10 for 80 yards. Rogers caught nine for 97 and Michael Chia and Jake McCulley each caught touchdown passes.

Defensively, Mark Cronin led Simpson with 13 tackles and a forced fumble. Braden Everding made 10 tackles and Ty Larsen had two sacks.

In a wild game, neither team turned the ball over but both teams struggled with special teams. Wartburg failed on three extra point attempts while Simpson had two snaps go over the head of punter Cameron Oviatt and another which was blocked for a safety.

Brandon Sims rushed for 106 yards and four touchdowns for Wartburg. His 3-yard scoring scamper early in the third quarter gave the Knights a 28-14 lead. A 25-yard field goal by Williams made the cushion 17 after three quarters.

"This game gives our kids the belief that no matter what the score is, we now have proof that we can come back to win a game," Glogowski said. "But it doesn't mean anything if we don't go out and get better next week. We have to continue to build on this; it's a big game but we still have to go out and play next week."

Simpson will try to make it three wins in a row next weekend when it travels to Decorah to take on Luther. The Norse (2-4, 2-2) beat Buena Vista 14-7 on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.

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