Defense shines in Luther Cup, NACC title victory
MILWAUKEE – In a season when the highlights have consistently been about the offense, Concordia University Wisconsin's defense rose to the occasion in a 58-31 victory over Wisconsin Lutheran College. The win gave the Falcons the outright Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference title and the Luther Cup for the second-consecutive season.
Over the last few games, the defense has continued to improve and Saturday they made numerous spectacular plays. CUW intercepted three passes, had two sack fumbles and forced WLC into three turnovers on downs. It was the first game of the season the Falcons had three or more turnovers.
During the opening half the Falcons shutdown the Warriors and held them to just seven points. They forced drives to end with four punts, three by fumble, two on downs and one with an interception.
Sophomore Robert Picken (Chicago, Ill.) and junior Uzziel McDermit (Kansasville, Wis.) each made impressive sack-fumble plays which were recovered by CUW. Picken fell on his own forced fumble, while sophomore Austin Kaatz (Pewaukee, Wis.) scooped up a loose ball and returned it 18-yards to the end zone. The defensive touchdown was the fourth of the season for the Falcons.
Freshman QuRon Hall (Jacksonville, Fla.) picked off a deep pass for his third interception of season and career in the second quarter. Junior Brett Waldorf (Hartford, Wis.) later grabbed his second interception of his career in the final period after playing in front of the Warriors receiver in the end zone. The final interception for CUW was by junior Jack Kugler (Kenosha, Wis.), the first of his career, which was returned 30 yards.
The Falcons also had four pass breakups, five tackles for loss and a blocked punt.
On the other side of the ball, the offense piled on 37 first half points to give CUW control. The 58 points scored was the second highest total of the season and the sixth-consecutive game with at least 45 points on the scoreboard. The Falcons finished 6-for-7 in red zone opportunities.
CUW rushed for 229 yards and surpassed the 200-yard rushing mark for the second-straight game and third time this season. Sophomore LaCurt Evans (Bloomingdale, Ill.) ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns, while junior Austin Damaschke (Bristol, Wis.) had 95 rushing yards and a touchdown. Junior Shay Klitzke (Annandale, Minn.) also added a six-yard scoring rush.
Damaschke ended the contest with 231 passing yards and three touchdowns, but was sacked three times. He connected with senior Cody Johnson (Brookfield, Wis.) five times for a career-high 145 yards and two touchdowns. Junior Garrett Wenzelburger (Hartland, Wis.) also caught six passes for 28 yards and a score.
It was a complete effort all the way around, as the special teams unit converted a surprise fake punt in the fourth quarter. Facing a 4th-and-10, senior Joe Paul (West Bend, Wis.) took an inside snap and ran up the middle for a 17-yard gain. Sophomore Luke Scheuerlein (Thiensville, Wis.) blocked a punt on WLC's (4-6, 3-3 NACC) third possession, which was converted for a score by the offense one play later.
CUW's (8-2, 6-0 NACC) undefeated conference season is the first under the direction of head coach Greg Etter. During his tenure, the Falcons have compiled a 28-13 NACC record.
Throughout the game the Falcons, Damaschke and Gonzalez set multiple records. Team single season records set include: points (431), touchdowns (58), total yards (4,768) and pass completions (234).
Damaschke now holds the NACC career record for pass completions (559), as well as program single season records for pass completions (226) and passing yards (2,846). Junior kicker David Gonzalez (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) also owns the NACC career record for scoring by kickers (174).
CUW awaits its opponent in the NCAA Division III Championship with the selection show at 5 p.m. on Sunday. The opponent, location, date and time will be announced on CUWFalcons.com.