For the second time in four years, the Wartburg Knights are going to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III football playoffs. The nation's 17th-ranked team advanced to the Elite Eight by throttling No. 25 Trine of Indiana, 49-7, in a second-round game at Walston-Hoover Stadium in Waverly Saturday afternoon (Nov. 25, 2017).

Wartburg (12-0) set a school record for most points scored in a post-season contest and also tied the mark for most wins in a season. The Knights will next face third-ranked Wisconsin-Oshkosh at Titan Stadium in Oshkosh, Wis., at noon on Saturday (Dec. 2).

Defensively, Wartburg set the tone by forcing six turnovers on the day. Offensively, the Knights took advantage of their opponent's mistakes.

Wartburg's first score of the game occurred just two plays after the Knights recovered a Trine fumble. Matt Sacia added his name to the school's record book when he hooked up with tight end Lee Bonifas on a 25-yard toss at the 7:59 mark of the opening quarter. It was Sacia's 31st touchdown pass of the season, the most in program history.

The Knights expanded their lead just 10 seconds later. Jake Kloft scooped up another Trine fumble and returned it 30 yards to the end zone, putting Wartburg ahead 14-0.

With all the momentum on their side, the Knights increased their first-quarter lead at the 2:56 mark. Connor Schrader scored on a 14-yard run that expanded the margin to 21-0.

Wartburg's advantage ballooned to 35-0 by halftime. In the second quarter, Sacia ran one-yard for a touchdown and also hooked up with Griffin Brennecke on a six-yard TD pass.

Sacia ended the day 15-of-18 for 236 yards and three touchdowns. It marked the 18th-straight game the junior signal-caller has finished with triple-digit passing yards.

Senior Ben Strathman helped push the Knights' lead to 42-0 in the third quarter, when he recorded the first touchdown of his career on a 23-yard reception. The score was set up by an interception, one of four on the day thrown by Trine quarterback Evan Wyse.

Wyse led the Thunder offense with 84 yards on the ground and 95 yards through the air.

Trine's only score of the day came on a seven-yard run by Lamar Carswell at the 7:30 mark of the third quarter. The Thunder (11-1) marched inside Wartburg's 20-yard line on their next possession, but the drive ended with an interception that led to the Knights' final touchdown of the day. Schrader's 58-yard run put Wartburg ahead 49-7 after three quarters and ended the scoring for the day.


Courtesy: Wartburg Knights via YouTube