Football wins Luther Cup after late defensive stand
MEQUON, Wis. – Concordia University Wisconsin scored a touchdown with just over three minutes to play before intercepting Wisconsin Lutheran College on the ensuing possession to end its season with a 17-14 victory and put the Luther Cup back in its trophy case.
Austin Damaschke connected with Garrett Wenzelburger on an 18-yard passing play to give the Falcons a 17-14 lead after the extra point. CUW drove 42 yards in three plays until the sophomore gunslinger found his favorite target on a fade route in the left corner of the end zone.
WLC (7-3, 5-2 NAC) completed five plays on the ensuing possession before junior defensive back John Palese (West Bend, Wis.) intercepted Warriors quarterback Zach Shaw and returned the ball 53 yards. The Falcons kneeled the remaining 24 seconds to win the Luther Cup, to go along with a Cheese Bowl victory earlier in the season, for the first time ever in the same season.
The Warriors took a 14-10 lead after an impressive 12-play, 45-yard drive, which included two fourth down conversions. Donavin Tucker ran for three yards on 4th-and-1 and CUW committed a roughing the passer penalty on 4th-and-3. After the mental mistake, Tucker ran for a six-yard score and a WLC 14-10 lead.
CUW (7-3, 6-1 NAC) finished the season in sole possession of second place in the Northern Athletics Conference after converting 7-of-15 third downs.
Damaschke (sophomore, Bristol, Wis.) threw for 204 yards and one touchdown on 24-of-29 passing. Junior James Saunders (Riverview, Fla.) hauled in a season-high-tying seven receptions for 49 yards, while Wenzelburger (sophomore, Hartland, Wis.) caught five passes for 47 yards and one score.
WLC wide receiver Josh Stodola, who the game second in the NAC in receiving, caught a game-high 10 receptions for 134 yards and one touchdown. Zach Shaw had 164 yards on 18-of-36 passing, with a touchdown and interception.
Shaw found Stodola running the down the middle of the field with 9:06 to play in the third quarter for a 64-yard touchdown to give WLC its first points of the game.
Defensively, senior Anthony Hoitink (Sheboygan, Wis.) ended his career with a game-high 11 tackles, four solo, and a tackle for loss. Palese recorded eight tackles, five solo, while senior Matt Upson (New Berlin, Wis.) recorded six tackles, two solo. Sophomore defensive end Uzziel McDermit finished with two sacks, two pass break ups, five tackles – four solo – and three tackles for loss.
Sophomore kicker David Gonzalez (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) scored the game's first points on a season-best 41-yard field goal in the opening quarter. Junior Ben Kempen (Malone, Wis.) pushed CUW in front 10-0 after he returned a fumble, which was forced by Hoitink, 22 yards for touchdown.
CUW ends its season with seven victories, the most in head coach Greg Etter's tenure and a five-win turnaround in the last two years.