DECORAH—Forced to scrap its initial game plan, the Central College football team used diverse looks and multiple contributors to rack up 547 yards in a soggy 45-14 football victory at Luther College Saturday.
It was the third time in four games that the Dutch have topped the 500-yard mark. They’re averaging 526.3 yards for the season.
Wide receiver Erik Knaack had three touchdowns and 135 yards from scrimmage for the Dutch (4-0 overall, 2-0 American Rivers).
“Erik had a really good game,” coach Jeff McMartin said. “He ran the ball well after the catch and he made some great catches. Those two touchdown passes were awesome. They were well-thrown passes and great catches. It was nice to see.”
Quarterback Blaine Hawkins was credited with 257 yards passing on 19 of 27 throws with one interception and three TDs. Joey McIntyre rushed for 70 yards on 16 carries, including a 2-yard scamper for Central’s only first-quarter score.
Receivers Knaack, Robinson and Tanner Schminke picked up numerous yards on running plays off shuttle passes.
“Luther gave us a certain look defensively pretty consistently that kind of pushed the ball in those directions, so we ran it a little differently,” McMartin said.
It wasn’t the look McMartin anticipated and the results didn’t come as easily as they appeared.
“They really changed up the coverages from what we’d seen them run,” he said. “Blaine (Hawkins) had to really think on his feet and make adjustments pretty quickly.”
Meanwhile Luther (0-5 overall, 0-3 conference) pulled some surprises on offense as well as sophomore Michael Lorento made his first start at quarterback. The Norse entered the game as the league’s leading rushing team but threw for more yards Saturday. Lorento completed 12 of 26 throws for 188 yards while Luther rushed for 136.
“At times it was a struggle,” McMartin said. “But we battled well and fought through some things. We had to adjust. It was a game where it would have been easy to get frustrated, but the guys stayed focused.”
Central used 17 second-quarter points to take a 24-0 lead and it was 24-7 at intermission. The Dutch broke it open in the third quarter at 38-7.
Free safety Brayden Egli had a team-high 11 tackles, including eight solos. Defensive lineman Blade Durbala had nine stops, including three tackles for loss, while linebacker Reid Taylor had eight stops and linebacker Connor Lewin and strong safety Jordy Borman each had seven.
“I thought our defense played really well,” McMartin said. “We had long stretches where we kept getting off the field quickly and we got some big stops in the red zone.”
Dutch cornerback Tre Wilridge III ended one third-quarter Luther threat with an interception in the end zone. Later, Luther had second down on the Central 1-yard line early in the fourth quarter but was turned away.
Central kicker Jon Alberts continued to bolster his all-America candidacy with a season-long 48-yard field goal in the second quarter.
“It had room to spare,” McMartin said. “He just continues to do good things.”
And freshman punter Que Baker-McCaulay got his first collegiate carry, picking up 23 yards on a fake punt that led to a score.
Central returns home to tackle the University of Dubuque in a league game Saturday. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. at Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium.