Westminster Christian falls to Luther North
Head coach John Davis and the rest of the Westminster Christian coaching staff know that their team can put points on the board with the best of them.
It's the defense that will have to tighten up if the Warriors want to reach their goal of making the playoffs in just their second year of varsity football.
Unfortunately the defense could not hold an explosive running attack by Luther North, as the Warriors fell to the Wildcats 54-30 Saturday afternoon in a Northeastern Athletic Conference game in Elgin.
The scoring started late in the first quarter after Westminster (0-1) opened up the game by chewing up over 8 minutes of clock, getting the ball into the Wildcats' red zone. A sack of quarterback Max Tucker on fourth down would end the drive and give the Wildcats the ball.
Luther North (1-0) took over at its 29 and proceeded to march down the field 71 yards and score on a 4-yard quarterback sneak by Marcus Wenzel. Peter Anton (103 yards, 2 TD) picked up the 2-point conversion on the ground.
Four different backs, including Wenzel and Anton, touched the ball and that will be something that head coach Ricky Ludwig said will be there all year for the Wildcats.
"We've got 3 or 4 good backs and we kind of want to get them all going and it's hard to split the carries," Ludwig said. "We're going to have to run more than we like usually. We want to throw more than we did today (just 3 attempts with 1 completion) but the run game was working."
Felix Loja, a senior who Ludwig said will get a bulk of the touches, led all rushers with 223 yards on the day along with a pair of touchdowns while Dane Carter added 3 TDs and 217 yards.
In all, the Wildcats rushed for a total of 567 yards but the game was not put away for good until the fourth quarter thanks to a tenacious Warriors' offense.
Coming out of the half, with Westminster trailing 16-0 and the ball in the hands of Luther North, Davis knew his team needed a stop to give it a chance.
The defense did not disappoint, forcing a 3-and out resulting in a punt that traveled just 2 yards, giving the Warriors prime field position.
"We made Luther North punt, and they don't punt to anybody. That was a victory," Davis said. "At the beginning of the game we tried to throw them off a little bit by adding a bit of the run game. But we are a passing team with the option to run, so we went back to our strengths and started putting up yards."
Despite getting sacked on the first play, Tucker took over with a short field and quickly went to work. He completed 5 straight passes with the last one going 7 yards to Markus Grasemann for their first score.
Another pass to Grasemann for the conversion left the Warriors down by 8.
Westminster would squib the ensuing kickoff and recover, giving it another short field and a chance to tie which was not wasted as the offense hit repeat.
A sack to begin the drive was followed by 5 more passes from Tucker (28 of 38, 300 yards 4 TDs), ending with an 11-yard strike to Grasemann to score and a short pass to Conner Albrecht for the conversion to tie the game.
That would be as close as the Warriors would get however, with the Wildcats answering on their next drive to go ahead on a 40-yard Carter run to go up for good as Luther North would score 4 more times unanswered to go up 46-16.
A pair of touchdown passes to Xavier Brown (96 yards, 2 TDs) would get the Warriors closer but not close enough.
"We have the skill players and we have the offensive line to win, it's just a matter of execution," said Tucker.
"It's hard to stop our offense," Davis said. "If we can have our defense hold a team to 21 points, and we can stop the run, we can win."