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Defense comes up big, secures win over Luther

The 2019 Simpson seniors with head coach Matt Jeter.
The 2019 Simpson seniors with head coach Matt Jeter.

INDIANOLA, Iowa -- The Simpson football defense recovered two fumbles inside the red zone to prevent Luther from scoring during a 16-10 victory to close out the season on Saturday inside Buxton Stadium on senior day.

The Norse (1-9, 1-7 A-R-C) were knocking on the door at the start of the second quarter with a 4th-and-goal from the 2-yard line, but a bobbled handoff was dropped to allow Trey Chumbley to recover the ball and prevent a score. Near the end of the game, Luther was cruising to the end zone but dropped the ball once more as Simpson (5-5, 4-4 A-R-C) recovered the fumble on its own 8-yard line to keep the game intact at 16-10.

The Storm offense orchestrated an 11-play, 63-yard drive to open the season finale with a touchdown after Noah Bruckner ran it in from 2-yards out to make it a 7-0 game. Sam Bartlett had catches of 24 and 15 yards during the drive to move the chains.

On the following possession, Luther would cut the deficit down to 7-3 after nailing a 31-yard field goal. Simpson's Zach Kreider would extend the lead in the second quarter with a field goal of his own, this time from 24 yards. Bruckner had a carry of 25 yards to highlight the 75-yard drive.

After the halftime break, the Norse scored a TD on three plays at the 7:26 mark in the third to tie the game at 10-10 before the Tanner Krueger-Bartlett connection went to work on the following series. The duo teamed up for a 26-yard gain to move the chains. After two run plays, Bartlett was open down the sideline to haul in a 36-yard score to give the team a 16-10 advantage.

As the defense forced the Norse to punt, the Storm were looking to cap off a 14-play drive with score to extend the lead, but had the field goal blocked to allow the visitors to stay in reach, but 11 plays later Luther would fumble near the goal line to end its hopes of a comeback.

On the last drive for Simpson, Bruckner escaped up the right hash for a 63-yard run to put the ball on the 10-yard line, where the offense ran out the clock to win.

Krueger ended with 280 yards passing and one score, while Bartlett added to his impressive season with 177 yards on eight receptions. Bruckner had a career day with 164 yards rushing with 25 carries. Michael Connor had a game-high 15 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. Brendan Holmes chipped in 10 tackles from his safety spot.

Before the game, the Storm recognized their seniors for their hardwork and dedication to the program over the course of the last four seasons. Michael Connor, Gunnar Davis, Tyler Dredge, Zach Kreider, Bo Kuyper, Jaxon Lee, Payton Miller, Parker Schenk, Quinn Slaven, Caleb Striegel, Sam Bartlett, Tanner Krueger, Joe Weppler, Trey Chumbley, Brendan Holmes and Jonathan Weaver were all honored.

Notes
• Bartlett ended the year with 1,301 yards receiving for second all-time in a season for the Storm. He is the first receiver to go over 1,000 yards since 2012 and tallied seven games this year with at least 100 yards.
• Connor went over the 100-tackle plateau for the second-straight season and becomes the third player in team history to have 300 career takedowns to join his teammate, Holmes.

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