WAVERLY, Iowa – Taylor Jacobsmeier threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Donald Miller to give Wartburg a 27-17 lead in the third quarter and the Simpson football team couldn't come back in a 34-24 loss on Saturday.
Jacobsmeier threw for 170 yards, ran for 109 and tossed two touchdown passes to Miller for the Knights (3-1, 1-0 Iowa Conference), who outscored Simpson 21-7 in the third quarter to snap a two-game losing streak in the series.
Mike Kuhn caught six passes for 124 yards and Taylor Nelson threw for 360 for the Storm (2-2, 0-1), who beat Wartburg by a point in each of the last two seasons. Nelson completed 30 of 43 passes and threw a touchdown for the 22nd straight game but was sacked six times by the Wartburg defense.
"We played okay in the first half and were where we wanted to be, only down 13-10," head coach Jim Glogowski said. "But there was some sloppy play in the second half and mistakes were made in the third quarter."
Simpson pulled within 20-17 after a 40-yard touchdown run by Jordan Beem with 6:28 left in the third, but Wartburg answered with a quick, two-play drive that ended with the big pass to play Miller. After a three-and-out by the Simpson offense, Brandon Domeyer ran in from 10 yards out to give Wartburg a 34-17 lead going into the fourth quarter.
"We were right in the game [at 20-17], then they come back with a two-play drive," Glogowski said. "Too many big plays like that hurt us."
Despite the deficit, the Storm weren't in unfamiliar territory. They came back from 17 down in the fourth quarter of a 38-37 overtime win in Waverly in 2011 and trailed by 13 in the first half of last year's 20-19 win in Indianola.
It looked as though Simpson could claw its way back into the game this time around as well.
Early in the fourth quarter, Nelson drove the team down to the Wartburg 5 yard line with just under 13 minutes left in the game. This time, though, he was intercepted by Logan Pitz in the end zone, effectively taking the wind out of the Storm's sails.
"We were right there again at the end of the game but threw an interception in the end zone," Glogowski said.
Simpson outgained Wartburg 468-427 and held the ball a minute longer but found itself facing a long field for most of the day. With no big mistakes on either side – each team threw one interception – the only glaring difference was field position. Wartburg had an average starting position of its own 36, while Simpson's was the 27.
"Field position and special teams cost us the game," Glogowski said. "There was a lot of hidden yardage in the kicking game."
Wartburg opened the scoring on the very first play from scrimmage when backup quarterback Logan Schrader threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Steggal. Simpson came back to take a 10-6 lead early in the second quarter on a 9-yard touchdown run by Nelson. Brian Schaaf provided the first three points on a 35-yard field goal in the first quarter, the longest by a Simpson placekicker since 2011.
Wartburg took its first lead when Jacobsmeier hit Miller on a 13-yard touchdown pass with 4:52 left in the second quarter. The lead extended to 20-10 when Schrader scored from a foot out on 4th-and-goal with 8:49 left in the third.
Cornerback Reid Ryan had a big day for the defense, making eight tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss and an interception. Linebacker Ted Haag also had eight stops and added 1 1/2 tackles for loss.
Simpson hosts Central for homecoming next Saturday, Oct. 12. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.