Lawrence’s football woes continued this week, as Lake Forest beat them in the Banta Bowl 42-14. This marks the seventh loss of the year for the Vikings, and the seventh loss in a consecutive string since week 1. The team’s biggest issues this week mirrored the problems they had seen in earlier games: a lack of follow-through and too many turnovers.
As the game began, Lawrence put up a solid fight. Freshman Billy Wallisch threw for an early touchdown, hitting freshman Nick Pastrone in the end zone in just four minutes. After a quick stop by Lawrence’s formidable defense, the Vikings came out strong again as a short punt placed them in Forester territory, but sophomore running back Wasonu Allen was stripped on one of his carries, and Lake Forest used the turnover to score in four short plays. The momentum began to mount against Lawrence even stronger when a Lake Forest punt was fumbled, resulting in the Foresters having great field position once again at the Lawrence 10-yard line. They scored off the fumble again and were able to strike once more through the air, putting themselves up to 21-7 by halftime.
The inconsistency that seemed to plague Lawrence all year struck again hard in the second half, as the Vikings’ defense had trouble shutting down Lake Forest’s offense. A punt return in the early third put Lake Forest up another score, and a well-balanced offensive attack found every opening; Lake Forest sophomore running back Stone Matthews had 20 carries for 154 yards, and freshman receiver A.J. Jackson corralled four catches for 125 yards, with a long of 54 that ended in another touchdown as well as the third quarter punt return. In contrast, Lawrence had trouble keeping its offense as potent as it appeared to be on its first two drives. Freshman Ethan Simmons led the running back group with eight carries for 36 yards, and wide receiver Pastrone’s 46 receiving yards were the highest of the team.
On the bright side, sophomore quarterback Timothy Owens threw a beautiful 23-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Cameron Wicks in the fourth quarter, but the game was already far too out of hand, ending 42-14. This pattern has appeared too often this year, and there is no reason why a team capable of producing such hot starts in several games should be unable to continue this play in the second half. Unless every player on the roster calls it a game at halftime, these results are indicative of poor adjustment abilities, especially at halftime; Lawrence’s opponents simply learn how to defend them after two quarters and the team does not become unpredictable enough. Perhaps the playbook needs a change or two.