NEW ULM - Saturday's Upper Midwest Athletic Conference football game between Martin Luther College and Westminster College was an all too familiar sight for the Knights as they turned the ball over eight times en route to a 26-7 loss.
Nobody thought the Knights could turn the ball over more than they did last week against Minnesota-Morris, when they turned it over six times, but they proved everyone wrong.
MLC head coach Doug Lange only had one word to say about his offense, and that one word was, "Turnovers."
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Martin Luther College’s Matthew Olson intercepts a pass intended for Tony Mitchell (1) of Westminster Saturday at MLC in New Ulm.
The Knights did not wait long to fumble the ball. On the Knights' first play from scrimmage, freshman quarterback Matt Olson fumbled the ball after a 10-yard gain to give Westminster spectacular field position.
MLC's defense was on the field for the majority of the game, and they really did an excellent job shutting down a Westminster offense that almost always started with the ball in MLC territory.
"They are a great defense," Lange said. "We just can't have them on the field the whole game."
The Knights' defense was able to keep Westminster's offense from scoring four different times when Westminster started with the ball in Knights' territory.
However, MLC's defense could not keep Westminster out of the end zone every time. Westminster scored on a 13-yard touchdown pass five and a half minutes into the game after recovering a fumble in MLC territory.
Westminster scored again five minutes later when Olson's pitch to running back Luke Rothe went sailing past Rothe, after which a Westminster defender scooped the ball up and ran it back 70 yards for another touchdown to make the score 13-0.
Sophomore quarterback Josh Rathje took over for the Knights late in the fourth quarter.
Every time the Knights' offense looked ready to put together a nice drive, they seemed to find a way to turn the ball over and lose all of their momentum.
The Knight's offense put together a good drive with five minutes remaining in the second half.
Rathje found sophomore wide receiver Dan Rodewald on a 30-yard pass to start the drive. Rathje then found Rothe on consecutive long pass plays, with the latter being a 35-yard touchdown pass in the back corner of the end zone. Kicker Shawn Scherer tacked on the extra point to make it a 13-7 game going into half time.
The Knights' momentum did not carry into the second half, however, as they continued to struggle protecting the football.
Westminster was able to score twice more in the second half, while the Knights didn't find the end zone again, and the final score of the game was 26-7.
Galen Holzhueter led the Knights' defense with 10 tackles, while Ben Olson added nine. Matt Olson intercepted two passes on the day as Conrad Dewey recorded an interception of his own.
On offense, MLC was led by Mark Voss, who rushed for 59 yards, while Rothe ran for 57 yards. Rathje threw for 120 yards and a touchdown, while the top receivers were Rodewald with four catches for 64 yards and Rothe with two catches for 63 yards. Rothe led the team in all-purpose yards with 176.
The Knights (1-2, 0-2) play again at home on Saturday when they take on St. Scholastica.