Last Saturday, the Vikings got the payoff they’d been looking for since Week 1.
Not to say men’s football hasn’t been making strides since the start of the season, though. A lot more of the opposite – the 2021 football leaderboards have been led by Vikings all season long. As of the writing of this article, outside linebacker Eder Bellegarde is at the top of the solo tackling class with 52 to his name – for reference, the second highest solo tackle total is 35. Cameron Wicks is third in receiving yards, and quarterback Deandre Weaver is #1 in the passing category with 1911 yards, not to mention Terrell Myers’ second-place standing for interceptions on the year with four. As successful as the Vikings have been in individual stats, they were just 1-5 on the year. Coming into the contest vs. Beloit College on the 23rd, the Vikings football team had just suffered a loss during the grueling comeback game from Illinois College, marred by penalties and questionable calls throughout the day. It’s more than safe to say this Saturday’s Homecoming win was refreshing, but that doesn’t begin to delve into the strengths the Vikings showed:
The Vikings excelled through the air on Saturday, which was imperative for setting the game’s tempo. Deandre Weaver totaled 353 yards by the contest’s finish, which would be a career best for the fifth-year quarterback – he also added 4 passing touchdowns against Beloit’s secondary, as well as 17 yards and a score rushing himself. Weaver’s only real blunder during the day was a fumble while there was still a whole half to play, but his stellar passing game and effective receivers guaranteed a win. Aforementioned Cameron Wicks lit BC’s secondary up all day, leaving nearly 150 yards worth of dust on the squad with two touchdowns to go with it – one of his scores came from a 45-yard run past multiple defenders. Wicks’s scores weren’t an isolated incident, as wideouts Tanner Morris and Jaidon Bond both scored on Beloit, adding 135 combined receiving yards. Lawrence’s ground game was punishing as well, as Prince Mukuna and Malachi Gatison’s punishing downfield charges softened up BC’s defensive line.
No Room to Breathe
If the Vikings’ offensive performance wasn’t as effective as it was against Beloit’s group, their defense ensured passage into the red zone wasn’t an option regardless. They made a statement in only allowing BC’s offense to travel 172 yards the entire game, and less than 50 yards throughout the entire second half. For context. Lawrence’s offense outplayed their total yardage by 300. The final rushing stats are similar, too, where Beloit’s paltry 24 yards pale in comparison to Lawrence’s 114. The Buccaneers couldn’t find an answer for the Viking’s smothering defensive unit, giving up 12 tackles alone to Eder Bellegarde, rounding his performance out with a QB sack. Terrell Myers did plenty to disrupt Beloit early, logging an interception at their 8 yard line and getting Lawrence up to an early lead. As an entire unit, the Viking defense shone in the second quarter with a big stop against Beloit; despite the Buccaneers entering the very near red zone, Lawrence’s seasoned defense was able to force a fumble, which culminated in a touchback that gave them yet another offensive possession. Between forcing turnovers and solid clock management, the Vikings were able to score big and play keep-away at the same time.
The Vikings travel to Galesburg, IL next week to play Knox College’s Prairie Fire on the 30th. The Knox offense is an interesting one, looking through the box scores. Quarterback Kaile Williams is capable of multiple touchdowns in a game, but usually only as a rusher. Factoring out his rushing ability, Williams has one more interception than he does touchdowns at a 2:3 ratio, and against Chicago, he was held to 1 for 6 passes complete, with three yard and an interception to his name. Turning off Knox’s run game may be the move that adds another win to the Vikings’ win streak.