Football Preview: Luther

Brendan Holmes
Brendan Holmes

The Simpson football team looks to stay in the hunt for an American Rivers Conference championship when it travels to Decorah, Iowa on Saturday, Oct. 27 to face the Luther Norse. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Carlson Stadium.

After suffering their first conference loss of the season two weeks ago at Central, the Storm (5-2, 4-1) bounced back with an impressive 38-33 win over Loras on Oct. 20. The Norse (1-6, 1-4) are coming off a 23-15 loss at Nebraska Wesleyan.

Luther will be celebrating homecoming this weekend.

GAME INFO
Simpson (5-2, 4-1) at Luther (1-6, 1-4)
Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
Legacy Field at Carlson Stadium | Decorah, Iowa
Live Audio | Live Video/Live Stats

WATCH THE STORM IN HD: Storm football fans can enjoy all five Simpson home games in high definition, all free of charge! Logon to SimpsonAthletics.com to access Simpson's video streaming portal through Stretch Internet.

LISTEN TO THE STORM: For the fourth straight season, KNIA is the radio home of Storm football. The team of Andrew Swadner and Rick Wilson will have the call on 95.3 FM and 1320 AM or online at kniakrls.com. Fans can also download the KNIA app, available on iTunes and Google Play. Pregame coverage begins at 12:35 p.m.

FIRST AND 10: Simpson is off to its best record through seven games since going 6-2 to start the 2013 season … the Storm are one of four, one-loss teams in the American Rivers Conference with just three weeks left in the regular season … the Storm put together a monster performance on the ground against Loras, rushing 64 times for 351 yards … in all, Simpson compiled 597 yards of total offense on 101 offensive plays, a school record and the third-most in Division III this season … Cam Bunting for a career-high 222 yards on 44 carries, the most attempts by a Simpson rusher since 1998 … he earned American Rivers co-Offensive Player of the Week honors for his efforts.

LUTHER SERIES NOTES: Simpson and Luther are meeting for the 80th time in a series that began in 1924 … the Norse lead the all-time series 45-33-1 … the teams have split the last four meetings, with Luther winning in 2014 (42-35) and 2016 (24-17) and Simpson winning in 2015 (42-28) and 2017 (38-17) … the Storm are making their first trip to Luther since the 2015 meeting, making this Simpson's first time playing on the blue turf at Carlson Stadium.

ABOUT THE NORSE: Luther and first-year head coach Caleb Padilla earned their first win of the season two weeks ago, 41-26 at home against Buena Vista … the Norse employ a triple-option attack that boasts the league's No. 1 rushing offense at 236.9 yards per game … quarterback Ian Kuykendall pilots the offense to the tune of 267.9 yards of total offense per game, the third-highest mark in the league … though the Norse defense ranks eighth in the league, defensive lineman Michael Noll is a force to be reckoned with … he is tied for the conference lead with 5.0 sacks on the year.

LEADING THE A-R-C: Entering Saturday's game, Simpson leads the American Rivers Conference in five team and individual categories:

Fewest Penalties — 26
Turnover Martin — +5
Individual Field Goals — Joey Gale, 5
Individual Tackles — Michael Connor, 78
Individual Fumbles Recovered — Prince Krah, 3

BUNTING SUPERLATIVES: Since taking over as the Storm's starting running back at the beginning of the 2017 season, senior running back Cam Bunting has been one of the most reliable players for the Simpson offense. Throughout his career he has 1,953 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns, good for 11th in school history in yards and tied for 10th in touchdowns. He also has a host of other noteworthy accomplishments, including:

  • Running for 100-plus yards in 10 of the last 14 games, including four in 2018
  • Scoring a rushing TD in 11 of 12 games dating back to the 2017 season
  • Carrying 432 straight times without losing a fumble. His last lost fumble came on his sixth carry in the 2017 season-opener against Wis.-Stout.

WR CENTURY CLUB: A trio of wide receivers have reached 100 yards receiving in a game for the Storm in 2018. Senior Sam Bartlett is the most recent inductee into the club with his six catches for 109 yards in the week five win over Coe. Austin Hronich had 114 yards receiving in the opener against Bethel and Joe McNally had 111 yards at Chicago and 137 at Wartburg. Ricky Reeve narrowly missed before the fourth, 100-yard receiver when he caught nine passes for 97 yards last week.

BIG PLAY JOE: Sophomore wide receiver Joe McNally has developed into the Storm's big-play threat in the passing game thanks to his 6-foot-4 frame, strong hands and great leaping ability. His 20 yards per reception lead the team and are the second-most in the A-R-C. Of his 25 receptions on the year, 21 have gone for first downs and/or touchdowns while nine have gone for 20-plus yards. He leads the team with 501 receiving yards and his four receiving TDs are second on the team.

MICHAEL CONNOR, MASTER OF DISRUPTION: Senior linebacker Michael Connor has a knack for disrupting opposing offenses. In every game this season, the conference's leading tackler has either recorded a sack, a tackle for loss, forced a fumble, intercepted a pass or broken up a pass. In Saturday's win over Loras he finished with 14 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and one sack. He ranks in the top five in the league in tackles (1st, 78), sacks (t-4th, 4.5) and tackles for loss (4th, 10.5)

SAFETY TANDEM PICKS OPPONENTS: Junior strong safety Ryan Lehr and junior free safety Brendan Holmes make up arguably the best pass defending duo in the conference. The pair has combined for 20 career interceptions and both rank among the best in Simpson history. Holmes' pick to seal the win against Loras gave him 10 for his career, tying Lehr for sixth in school history.

PLAYING BY THE RULES: Simpson is among the nation's best when it comes to playing clean football. The Storm rank fourth in the country in fewest penalties committed, getting flagged just 26 times in seven games. That number is tops in the American Rivers.

VALUING THE FOOTBALL: Simpson is the best in the American Rivers Conference when it comes to turnover margin, sporting a plus-five figure on the year. That ranks 44th in Division III.

TURNOVERS TELL THE TALE: Winning the turnover battle is an emphasis for any football team, and Simpson is no different. In 17 games with Matt Jeter as head coach, Simpson has won the turnover battle 10 times, going 8-2 in those games. Simpson has tied its opponents in turnovers 10 times, going 5-5. And in the seven times Simpson has lost the turnover battle, the Storm are 0-7.

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