Struggling to score when the offense took the field, head coach Dave Brown used his defense to stem the tide against the Pioneers of Carroll College at the Banta Bowl last Saturday. Defensive back Nate Semenak’s touchdown from an interception with 1:51 left in the fourth quarter energized the team and crowd and put the Vikings in the lead for good, 28-20.
Semenak’s touchdown was preceded by another defensive score by linebacker Scott Caroen. It’s beem a long time coming for the underachieving Vikings, but now their struggles are easing.
Excellent work from the special teams kept the Vikings within striking distance at the end of the first half. Good field position and a commanding defensive presence held the
Pioneers of Carroll to just 14 first-half points.
The 14-6 halftime score inspired the Vikings to come out with a strong second half and claim victory in front of the spirited home crowd.
In the third quarter, still trailing by eight and on fourth and long, quarterback Eric Aspenson rocketed a ball to captain Zach Michael, who snatched it out of the air to come through in the clutch for the first down.
Moments later in the same drive, Aspenson passed to tight end Adam Tegelman in the back of the end zone to bring them within two points. The banged-up junior managed to fight off a Carroll linebacker before hauling in the catch for a touchdown.
The ensuing two-point conversion run by Aspenson tied the game at 14 as the freshman successfully dove for the nearside pylon.
The defense, with four interceptions and one fumble recovery, proved to be the undoing of Carroll, though it was a disallowed pass that preserved the victory for the Vikes.
After scoring a touchdown with 44 seconds left, the Pioneers pulled within two, 28-26.
Needing a two-point conversion to tie, Carroll’s quarterback completed a pass that appeared good, but the officials judged that the receiver was not in the end zone.
The loss issued by Lawrence drops Carroll to the bottom of the conference.
The Vikings’ next challenge is Beloit College, a team to whom they have dropped their last five contests.
With solid quarterback play from Aspenson and more scintillating defensive stops, the Vikes have no place to go but up.