The Lawrence Viking football team lost its home opener to the Knox Prairie Fire 19-0 last Saturday in the Banta Bowl. The loss drops the Vikings to 0-3 on the season.The Vikings came into Saturday’s game against the Prairie Fire with a four game losing streak against Knox, one they hoped to break. However, the superb play by the Viking defense was not enough, as Knox shut down Lawrence’s offense. The Vikings could only muster 153 yards of total offense, and could not seem to break the stifling Prairie Fire defense, which recorded twelve tackles for a loss of yards.
Knox took the opening kickoff, and controlled the tempo early. The Prairie Fire returned the opening kickoff 39 yards into Viking territory. The Prairie Fire got down to the Viking eight-yard line, but LU’s defense came up strong, stuffing the run and sacking Knox quarterback and MWC leading passer Mike Erwin. The Prairie Fire was held to an Adam Jordan thirty-yard field goal, and Knox led 3-0.
The Vikings could not convert on their first two drives, and after LU running back and the MWC’s second leading rusher Justin Berrens was stopped on fourth down, Knox took over. Their drive lasted six minutes and went sixty-nine yards before senior Vince Singleton crashed through the pile from two yards out to put Knox up 10-0.
The Vikings and Prairie Fire traded punts until a botched snap on a fourth down try by Lawrence led to great field position for Knox. Erwin was sharp on this drive for the Prairie Fire. He threw a 44-yard strike to Seth Mattin, and then a seven-yard touchdown pass to Tom Neagle to put the Prairie Fire up 17-0.
The score remained the same for most of the remainder of the game. The Lawrence defense came up numerous times, shutting Erwin down.
Viking linebackers B.J. Berlowski and Andy Kazik had great games. Kazik led the Vikings with fifteen tackles. And Berlowski was all over the field. He finished with six tackles: two of them for a loss of yards, one sack and two pass breakups. Berlowski also recovered two Prairie Fire fumbles for the Vikings.
The score remained 17-0 until 5:22 remained in the game. Jeremy Tabor hit Berrens in the Lawrence end zone for a Knox safety. That made the score 19-0, and wrapped up the scoring for the game. Knox improved to 3-0 with the win, and Lawrence dropped to 0-3. Lawrence freshman linebacker Bobby Flobeck left the game with a stinger in the third quarter and did not return.
Lawrence coach Dave Brown was quick to praise Berlowski after the game: “B.J. was great out there today, in fact we changed some things defensively to fit his level of play.”
Brown also commented on his offense. “We didn’t execute out there; Knox’s defense is good, but not that good.”
Tomorrow the Vikings will face Carroll College, who, like Lawrence, is winless this season. The Pioneers are last in the conference in both total offense and total defense, so Lawrence will have a very good chance to gain its first victory of the year.
Brown said, “We need a good week of practice to build on the game against Knox, and we need to get back to basics.” The Vikings and Pioneers face off at 1:30 in Waukesha.