After a week one bye, the Wartburg Knights finally kicked off their football season over the weekend. They set a school record in their opener, but fell at Monmouth (Ill.), 29-22, on Saturday (Sept. 10, 2016).

The Knights re-wrote the team record book on their second score of the day. Sophomore quarterback Matt Sacia (Eldridge), making the first start of his career, hooked up with junior Griffin Brennecke (Marion) for a 93-yard touchdown pass, the longest in school history. This lengthy play broke the old mark of 91 yards set by Taylor Jacobsmeier and Brandon Steggal against at Luther in 2013.

Wartburg (0-1) took a 6-0 lead when junior Connor Schrader (Lake Zurich, Ill.) scored his first career touchdown on a two-yard run with five-minutes, 55-seconds left in the first quarter. The record-setting pass came 1:12 later, and put the Knights up 13-0. The advantage immediately increased to 15-0 when Wartburg scored two points on a safety on the ensuing kick-off.

The Fighting Scots (1-0) rallied to tie the game on back-to-back scoring possessions in the second quarter. Tanner Matlick hit Yansay Williams with a 38-yard scoring strike early in the frame, then hit Ben Moore for an 83-yard catch-and-run. Alec Dutko raced in with the two-point conversion, tying the score at 15-15.

Matlick ended the game with 394 passing yards and four touchdowns.

Dutko put Monmouth ahead when he caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Matlick with 4:49 left in the third quarter. Matlick's fourth TD toss came on an 18-yard toss to Trent Rains early in the fourth. quarter.

Wartburg got a late touchdown to set the final the score at 29-22. Junior Riley Brockway (Postville) caught a three-yard TD pass from Sacia with 0:22 left.

The Fighting Scots seal the victory when they recovered an onside kick. The win was Monmouth's first in program history over Wartburg following losses to the Knights in five previous meetings.

Schrader led Wartburg's ground attack with his 35 yards on 11 carries. Sacia was 26-51-2 and threw for 296 yards and two touchdowns. Brennecke led the receivers with four receptions for 120 yards. Brockway nearly missed the century mark with his 99 yards on nine catches.

Senior Dalton Ciaverelli (Clarksville) led the Knights' defense with 12 total tackles, which included 10 assists. Junior Tony Anstoetter (Farley) had a team-best two tackles for a loss of four yards.

The loss was Wartburg's first in a season-opener since 2009, when the Knights' dropped a 42-35 decision to St. Norbert in overtime.

UP NEXT: Wartburg opens Iowa Conference play against the league's newest member on Saturday (Sept. 17), when they face Nebraska Wesleyan in Lincoln, Neb.


Video By ILLIOWAFCA via YouTube