Defense, special teams power Storm to 31-21 win at Loras

Ryan Lehr
Ryan Lehr

DUBUQUE, Iowa — Ryan Lehr returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown, Jackson Redmond turned a botched snap into a touchdown and the Simpson football team held Loras' high-flying offense in-check in a 31-21 win Saturday.

Simpson turned two interceptions into 14 points, scoring 17 points in the fourth quarter to spoil homecoming at the Rock Bowl. The Storm (3-3, 2-2 Iowa Conference) held Loras 21 points below its league-leading 42.6 average.

Sam Sasso completed 11 of 14 passes for 145 yards before leaving due to injury in the second quarter. Cam Bunting ran for 74 yards and a touchdown and Ricky Reeve caught six passes for 47 yards as Simpson posted its second-straight win in the series.

Bob Kelly threw for 304 yards and two touchdowns and Josh Schulte caught 13 passes for 113 yards, but the Duhawks (3-3, 2-3) were held to just 47 rushing yards after coming in averaging 170.

Key Moments
Redmond scores after botched snap: With starting quarterback and regular holder Sasso out of the game, the duties fell to the senior wide receiver. Simpson led 17-13 and was lining up for a 23-yard FG with 7:26 left in the fourth quarter, set up by linebacker Austin Gilbert's interception. Redmond mishandled the snap, but alertly picked up the loose ball and ran for the pylon. He broke the plane, giving the Storm a momentum-swinging 24-13 lead following Drew Jensen's extra point. Redmond had another key play on special teams when he fell on Mason Quigley's onside kick with 3:08 left and Simpson leading 31-21.

Lehr pick-six seals win: Trailing 24-13 following Redmond's TD run, Loras answered by driving to the Simpson 6 with 5:18 left in the game. Facing second-and-goal, Kelly tried to find a receiver in the flat but Lehr stepped in front of the pass, going 98 yards for the score. After initially going down as a 100-yard return — that would have been a school record — it was ruled that Lehr gained possession at the 2.

Storm start fast again: After being forced to punt on the first two possessions, Simpson scored on the next two to take a 14-3 lead. Sasso completed a 43-yard pass to Bunting to set up Bunting's 2-yard run with 5:28 left in the first. After a three-and-out and some help from a pass interference call, Simpson drove 70 yards to score on a 1-yard sneak by Sasso on the first play of the second quarter.

Coach Speak
"The guys played with grit and determination today. The seniors led the team and made sure we left Dubuque with a win. It was a great road win for the Storm!" — head coach Matt Jeter

Notes and Numbers
• Simpson improved to 29-10 all-time against Loras, including a 13-7 mark at the Rock Bowl.
• The Storm improved to 2-0 on the road this season.
• The game went into a weather delay for approximately 30 minutes in the third quarter.
• Three different players took snaps at quarterback for the Storm after injuries to Sam Sasso and Tanner Krueger. Krueger went 7-for-17 for 83 yards through the air and Tanner Jansen rushed for 15 yards without a pass attempt.
• Lehr's 98-yard pick-six is the second-longest in school history to Joe Beschorner's 99-yarder in 1997. It is tied for the fourth-longest INT return in Division III this season.
• The interceptions by Gilbert and Lehr give Simpson 10 through six games. Simpson had just five in all of 2016 as the Storm now have a takeaway in 15 of 16 games under head coach Matt Jeter.
• Simpson outscored Loras 7-3 in the first quarter Saturday and is outscoring opponents 49-27 in the first quarter of games this season.

Up Next
Simpson hosts Luther next Saturday, Oct. 14 in the annual homecoming game. The league-leading Norse (4-1, 3-0) beat Nebraska Wesleyan 41-38 in overtime on Saturday.