St. Norbert Holds Strong To Down No. 17 Wartburg, 42-35
Sept. 5, 2009
DE PERE -- St. Norbert College received record-setting performances from Rob Berger and Jeremy Gezella and used a goal-line stand to end the game and deliver a pulsating 42-35 overtime win over No. 17 Wartburg College at Minahan Stadium.
Gezella hauled in an 8-yard touchdown pass from Berger on the last play of regulation to force overtime, and St. Norbert turned away Wartburg on a first-and-goal series starting at the St. Norbert 6 to end the game.
Berger's 443 yards of total offense and Gezella's 12 receptions were both school records, as the Green Knights improved to 3-0 in overtime games under Jim Purtill. It was St. Norbert's first win over an Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference foe since 1981.
St. Norbert appeared poised to tie the game inside 3 minutes remaining but a Green Knight fumble at the Wartburg 20 gave the Knights the ball back with 2:38 left. Wartburg was unable to get a first down, and Logan Krueger's 32-yard punt return gave St. Norbert the ball at the Wartburg 34.
Berger hit Gezella on a 14-yard pass to convert and third-and-6 to the Wartburg 16. Todd Sheedy then ran down to the Wartburg 3. A Berger rush was stopped at the Wartburg 3 with the clock melting to 3.5 seconds before St. Norbert clocked the ball. The Green Knights were then slapped with a delay-of-game penalty to set up Berger's fade to Gezella, who hauled in the pass falling out of bounds as time expired. Roger Nault's point-after attempt was true to force overtime.
St. Norbert needed two plays to score in overtime, with Berger finding John Weninger twice for 18 and 7 yards to score. Wartburg then had first-and-goal at the St. Norbert 6 but four straight Lamar Harvey runs netted just four yards.
St. Norbert and Wartburg traded scores, with the Knights leading 21-14 at halftime. Berger hit Gezella for a 40-yard touchdown on the Green Knights' first second-half possession. Wartburg immediately answered when Nick Yordi connected with Matt Gustafson with a 35-yard touchdown pass and a 28-21 lead with 9:50 left in the third quarter.
Berger scored on a nifty 29-yard run with 9:44 left in the game tie the game at 28-28. Wartburg marched 72 yards on 10 plays and scored on Levi Helbling's 22-yard reverse with 6:51 left to give the Knights a 35-28 lead and set up the game's final dramatic moments.
Both teams piled up over 500 yards of total offense, with St. Norbert netting 527 yards and Wartburg 506. Wartburg rushed for 287 yards and St. Norbert had 210. Neither team led by more than a touchdown.
Berger completed 28 of 37 passes for 317 yards and four touchdowns, and also rushed 16 times for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Gezella hauled in 12 catches for 179 yards and two touchdowns.
Yordi completed 14 of 26 passes for 200 yards and had two touchdown passes for Wartburg. Harvey led Wartburg on the ground with 151 yards on 28 attempts. The Knights were whistled for 11 penalties for 100 yards.