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Wartburg Opens Season With Dominating Win

Wartburg Football Helmet
Photo By: Elwin Huffman – Townsquare Media

Since Walston-Hoover Stadium opened on the Wartburg College campus for the 2001 season, the Knights have been perfect in their home debuts at the facility. That unblemished streak reached 17 games on Saturday evening (Sept. 9, 2017).

Wartburg (1-0) opened its football season with a dominating 36-13 victory over Monmouth (Ill.) under the lights. The Knights rolled up 526 yards of total offense with a balanced attack. They finished with 219 yards on the ground and 307 through the air.

Matt Sacia (Eldridge) began his second season as Wartburg’s starting quarterback with a near-perfect night, completing 31 of 36 passes. He was responsible for all of the Knights’ aerial yards and ended the game with four touchdown tosses, one short of a team record.

Late in the first quarter, sophomore Lee Bonifas (Asbury) scored his first collegiate touchdown on a 12-yard pass from Sacia that put Wartburg ahead 6-0. In the second quarter, senior Hunter Baldus (Cedar Rapids) scooped up a Monmouth fumble near the Fighting Scots’ end zone and ran it across the goal line. Then, midway through the period, senior Griffin Brennecke (Marion) made a highlight-reel, one-handed catch in the back corner of the end zone for the Knights’ third score.

Senior Riley Brockway (Postville) tied his career-high with two touchdown catches and had a new career mark with 171 yards. The first of his scoring receptions near the end of the first half put Wartburg ahead 27-7 at intermission.

Monmouth’s offense produced two touchdowns and 324 yards through the air, while being held in check on the ground. Quarterback Hayden Nelson completed 20 of 36 passes for a pair of scores, but was intercepted three times. The Fighting Scots (0-3) mustered only five yards on 21 rushing attempts.

Tony Anstoetter (Farley) led the Knights’ defense with 12 tackles.

With the win, Wartburg avenged a 29-22 loss in its 2016 season debut and improved its record to 10-0 in night game openers at Walston-Hoover Stadium.

UP NEXT: Wartburg opens Iowa Conference play on Saturday (Sept. 16). The Knights travel to Indianola for a 1 p.m. game at Simpson.

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