Nov. 29, 2008

From Wartburg Athletics

MONMOUTH, ILL. – Wartburg College senior wide receiver Justin Vetter of Nashua called his own game Saturday, Nov. 29, a “rollercoaster.”

The Knights can be glad he hit a high on the ride with seven seconds remaining.

Vetter, taking a 23-yard pass from junior quarterback Nick Yordi of Solon in between two Monmouth defenders, landed in the end zone with the game-winning points and only seven seconds left on the clock at Monmouth’s April Zorn Memorial Field.

“I knew I had to push out the fumble I lost inside their 10 and then the drop in the open near midfield,” he said. “It was all about getting another chance. It doesn’t get any better than having that happen to win a game.”

“It’s really unbelievable,” head coach Rick Willis said. “We always talk about battling to the full 60 minutes, and it was played out today. The guys did a great job of hanging in there.”

The host Fighting Scots, seeing their season end at 11-1, got out of the gates quickly with their well-publicized offensive attack. Monmouth drove 55 yards on first try and then, taking advantage of a Wartburg fumble deep in Knights’ territory, went 35 more yards for the second score and a 14-0 lead.

The Knights fought back to end the first half. The two sides traded two touchdowns each in the second stanza for a 28-14 halftime score. Wartburg found the end zone behind a pair of short plunges from junior running back Alex Boom of Manchester and Yordi.

Wartburg’s defense came to the forefront in the second half. The Knights held the nation’s top-scoring team scoreless for the final 30 minutes. Monmouth was also the victim of two fumbles, one that led to a 34-yard scoring march which Boom converted his second touchdown on, and the second which ended with a 21-yard field goal from senior place-kicker Spencer Herzberg of Iowa Falls to make the count 28-24.

Monmouth’s defense answered the call of their counterparts. They held Wartburg at the Fighting Scot 40 at the 6:04 mark of the contest. They then appeared headed for the game-winning clock-killing drive, moving the ball all the way to the 11-yard line. However, two penalties and back-to-back incomplete passes gave the ball to the Orange and Black at their own 21 with 1:34 to play.

Enter Yordi. The quarterback fired some key sideline passes, found a big hole running near midfield and pushed his squad down to the Monmouth 22, setting up Vetter’s end zone heroics.

“You always practice that two-minute drill in practice,” he said. “We just kept on playing hard. It was a great finish.”

Wartburg’s offense was guided by Boom’s 96 yards on the ground. Yordi finished with 276 yards passing and his favorite target was Vetter with 11 receptions for 148 yards. Defensively, senior defensive back Jason Lansing of West Union led the way with 15 tackles, while senior linebacker Kyle Goodchild of Van Horne added 11 tackles.

Monmouth was led by the throwing of sophomore quarterback Alex Tanney. Tanney threw for 313 yards and was 41 of 57 through the air. Junior wide receiver Steve Zidow was his favorite target with 11 receptions for 83 yards.