Video Courtesy: Wartburg Knights via YouTube

Wartburg has taken full control of the Iowa Conference (IIAC) football race.

In a battle for first-place in the league standings, the 20th-ranked Knights (7-0 overall, 5-0 IIAC) separated themselves from the rest of field with a 41-16 victory over Luther on the blue turf at Carlson Stadium in Decorah on Saturday (Oct. 21, 2017). Wartburg broke the game open with a 34-point second half, scoring on five of seven possessions. Two of the scores were set up by Luther turnovers.

Each team started the game with touchdown drives on their opening possessions. It would be the only scoring in a first half that was controlled by the Norse (4-3, 3-2).

With the score tied 7-7 at halftime, Wartburg opened the third quarter with a nine-play, 74-yard drive to the endzone. Quarterback Matt Sacia tossed a 28-yard touchdown pass to Lee Bonifus, giving the Knights a 13-7 lead.

Wartburg Knights
Wartburg Knights

Wartburg extended the margin to 14 points less than one-minute later, when Chris McNutt scooped up a Luther fumble and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown. Coen Brown's two-point conversion run put the Knights ahead 21-7.

Connor Schrader's four-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter put Wartburg up 28-7. Later, Schrader capped the scoring with another four-yard run with just over two minutes remaining in the game. The final touchdown was set up by Luther, which fumbled a punt return.

Statistically the game was close. Wartburg tallied 332 yards of total offense to Luther's 299. The Knights ran for 165 yards and threw for 167 in a balanced attack, while the Norse rushed for 284 yards and passed for 44.

Schrader ended the day with 84 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns. Sacia finished 13-24-1 for 167 yards and one TD.

The victory gives Wartburg a two-game lead in the Iowa Conference race with three games remaining in the regular-season. The league winner receives an automatic bid into the NCAA Division-III playoffs.

The loss drops Luther into a three-way tie for second place with Central and Simpson.

UP NEXT: On Saturday (Oct. 28), Wartburg returns home for a 1 p.m. game against Dubuque at Walston-Hoover Stadium in Waverly while Luther travels to Cedar Rapids for a 1 p.m. game at Coe.

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