Vikings go 1-1, face rivals Ripon in finale

Phil Roy

Two weeks ago the Vikings hosted a winless Beloit team in the season’s homecoming game. Beloit managed to take a 7-3 lead into the locker room at the half, scoring just seconds before the interval.
At the halfway point, Lawrence inducted its 1981 football team into the Hall of Fame as recognition for their success in a year that saw the Vikings make it all the way to the semifinals of the national tournament.
Action on the field resumed to a scoreless third quarter in which the Vikings found themselves agonizingly close to taking the lead. In the fourth quarter, the Vikings managed cut the lead to 1 on a 30-yard Bryan Althouse field goal to set up the gripping finale.
On Beloit’s very next possession, Viking defensive lineman Jeremy Reider came up with a momentum-shifting fumble recovery on a badly communicated Beloit snap to give Lawrence a shot at the lead.
Two plays later, quarterback Nick Maxam threw a ball into the end zone that was tipped by receiver Dan Behnke and then caught a foot off the ground by the same receiver for the Viking touchdown.
Beloit had a slim chance of taking home its first win when they were given possession with under a minute left.
Viking cornerback Derek Micke picked off a pass on the first play of that drive, however, to help Lawrence extend their game-winning streak to three.
A mediocre performance by Lawrence’s offense which had two unsuccessful red zone trips — a full set of downs on both the Beloit 11 and 9 — was more than made up for by a stellar defensive effort.
The Viking defense, led by linebacker Andrew Schneider (8 tackles), limited Beloit to just 86 total offensive yards, the lowest by any team in the league this season.
Reider, who was named to D3football.com’s national team of the week for his efforts, had seven tackles, including three for a loss, to complement his crucial fumble recovery. That win guaranteed the Vikings would not have a losing season for the first time since 1987!
The high-riding Vikings saw their winning streak end the following weekend, however, in a disappointing loss to the Carroll College Pioneers.
The Vikings’ option offense was stifled by a feisty Carroll defense which put up nine points of its own in the first half. Both teams tried to milk their running games on a gusty afternoon in Waukesha, but the home team had far more success with it than did the visiting Vikings. Carroll running back Daniel Del Monte ran for 143 yards and one TD on 22 carries, almost four times the total rushing yardage for the Vikings who managed an astoundingly low 36 total yards on 35 carries.
The Vikings’ only score of the game came on a long pass from backup QB Tyler Ankney to receiver Dominique Lark towards the end of the first half.
Lawrence seemed capable of a comeback at that point, but the optimism was short-lived, as Carroll scored with seconds left in the half to extend their lead to 17 points and followed that with a touchdown on the first drive of the third quarter to leave the Vikings in their tracks.
Carroll left the dagger for the final quarter, sending the Vikings home with the 37-6 loss.
The Vikings now sit at 4-4 in conference action (5-4 overall) with just one weekend left to play. Although Lawrence has guaranteed itself a non-losing season, they now play to end above .500 and replace the 1987 on their backs with the year of its next winning season: 2006?
With one game to play, the energy couldn’t be more tangible . except it is. The Vikings are joined in this season finale by the Red Hawks from Ripon College, as the two teams extend the longest football rivalry in the history of Wisconsin.
The rivals compete for the Doehling-Heselton Memorial Trophy, which Ripon has won the last six years. The Red Hawks have put together a fine season so far this year and are currently in a three-way tie for second place in the conference.
Lawrence, which finds itself fifth in the standings, could fall down to seventh with a loss this weekend. This will be the final game for some of the Viking’s very capable leaders, and they will undoubtedly look to end their careers leaving a winning stamp on Lawrence’s football history.
So come out in support of the Vikings for what will surely be a high-energy season finale. All you freshman who have never been to a Lawrence football game, and all you seniors who might never see another one after this: Bring the blue and white to the Banta Bowl this Saturday.
Kick off is set for 1 p.m.

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