Waterloo senior wide receiver Kyle Knefelkamp returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown and had a 78-yard touchdown reception on Saturday against the Triad Knights.
But in the mind of Waterloo coach Dan Rose, Knefelkamp’s biggest play came in the final two minutes of the Mississippi Valley Conference opener for both teams.
Knefelkamp hauled in an 18-yard reception from quarterback Ross Schrader for a first down to clinch the upset 21-14 win over the state-ranked Knights.
“He had the two big plays for touchdowns but the catch he made for the first down there late in the third quarter may have been the biggest play of all,” Rose said. “Triad is a great football program and one of our goals this year was for us to come in here (Troy) and win. We had never been able to do that since I have been the coach at Waterloo. Tonight we got it done.”
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Filling in for leading rusher Scott Nanney, sophomore Dalton Viglasky ran for 65 yards in the first half — including a 5-yard touchdown run in the second quarter — for Waterloo (3-1, 1-0), which built a 21-7 lead after three quarters.
Triad, ranked seventh in the Class 5A state poll, cut the Bulldogs lead to 21-14 on a 1-yard scoring run by quarterback Tommy Bauer with 3:14 left. But Waterloo was able to clinch the win with on Knefelkamp’s third down catch.
Triad coach Paul Bassler, although disappointed by the loss, wasn’t totally surprised by the outcome
The game, matching two of the top programs in the MVC, was postponed by lightning on Friday and from the start of the game, the Knights seemed a step slow and unable to get their offense in gear.
“We played like we practiced this week, which wasn’t good,” Bassler said. “Early in the season as a coach you are trying to get a read on your kids and what kind of football team you will have. We’ve kind of let the kids do their own thing, sort to speak, here early in the season.
“I’m not making any excuses because Waterloo outplayed us tonight. But with the weather and the delays ... well, we would like to get back into a normal routine.”
Waterloo led 14-7 when on a third-and-long situation, Knefelkamp turned a screen pass over the middle into a 14-point lead. Schrader, threading the needle perfectly, hit Knefelkamp in stride. The Bulldogs fleet senior, who showed sprinters speed when he returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a score, outran the Knights secondary to the end zone for a second time in three quarters.
Triad, getting solid play from quarterback Tommy Bauer and running back Tom Kraudel, moved the ball to near their own 40-yard line,. Sophomore running back Devin Towns broke through the middle of the line and into the clear. But Towns was stripped of the football with Waterloo recovering around its own 35-yards line.
“Triad can run the football and they had some success against us tonight. But I thought we contained them pretty well,” Rose said. “The kids stepped up, forced some turnovers and in all did a real good job.”
Towns fumble turned out to be the first of three on three straight possessions for Triad late in the third and early in the fourth quarters.
Triad falls to 3-1 on the season and 0-1 in the MVC.