Trent Jackson, Sports Information Director
HOLLAND, Mich. – The No. 17 Wartburg football team opened NCAA postseason competition with a first-round victory at Hope College Saturday afternoon, defeating the Flying Dutchmen, 41-3.
The win stood as the 11th NCAA playoff win as the Knights earned an at-large bid to make their 14th postseason appearance in program history.
Hope opened the contest forced back-to-back Wartburg punts while converting a 28-yard field goal on its first drive. However, it was the only score from the home team, while the Orange & Black responded with 14 unanswered points.
“I don’t know if a whole lot changed, it might have been a feeling out process when you haven’t played a team before,” head coach Rick Willis commented on the start of the game. “Guys had a next-play mentality, kept pushing, and things started to flow.”
Down 3-0 after the Hope field goal, the Knights stormed down the field in four plays, capped off by a Kolin Schulte21-yard reception from Noah Dodd, which ended up being the game-winning score in the first quarter.
Wartburg scored 20 points in the second quarter to take a 27-3 into the locker room at the half. Dodd connected twice with Brandan Childs and rushed one in from a couple yards out.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Knights added a pair of scores in the final frame. Dodd and Childs connected again while the scoring was capped off by a blocked punt return from Sam Joerger.
Dodd finished 11-of-18 passing for 185 yards with four touchdowns. Childs, a senior from Solon, Iowa, totaled three catches for a career-high three TD receptions.
“Brandan [Childs] did a really nice job getting open when he needed to and kind of made my job easy,” said Dodd.
Wartburg totaled 244 yards on the ground, led by running back Bennett Goettsch with 124 yards on just 10 carries, which included a 62-yard run.
“I think that’s where it starts,” Willis said about the Knights’ offensive line. “We’ve been fortunate to have the same group playing together the whole year. They trust each other and did a great job today.”
Defensively, Wartburg limited the Flying Dutchmen to 243 yards of total offense and 12 first downs. The Knights tallied eight tackles for loss and five sacks. Owen Grover led the defense with nine tackles (eight solo).
“We had great pressure on the quarterback did a really good job tackling, which is really critical in these types of games,” Willis mentioned.
Wartburg, now 10-1 overall, moves on to the NCAA First Round to face the winner of Monmouth College and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.