Vikings let game slip away

Andy York

The Lawrence University football team let a 27-10 lead slip away in the fourth quarter, as Grinnell scored three straight touchdowns, including two in the final 1:52, to win 30-27. The loss drops LU to 1-7 on the season.The Vikings got off to a slow start, punting on their first five drives. However, their defense was equally impressive, holding Grinnell to only a 28-yard field goal in the first quarter. Late in the second quarter, LU finally broke free. Eric Aspenson found Nick Korn in the end zone for a 33-yard scoring strike to put the Vikings up on top 7-3. Grinnell had one last chance to score at the end of the half, but LU cornerback Nate Semenak intercepted a pass on the LU four-yard line to preserve the halftime lead.

The second half showed the Vikings coming out fast. Tyler Krzewina intercepted a Sean Pfalzer pass and retuned it 50 yards for an LU touchdown. Krzewina also led the team in tackles with 17, garnering him MWC Defensive Player of the week honors. After trading punts, the LU offense struck again. Adrell Bullock ran for 37 yards on the drive, and Aspenson capped it off with a 12-yard strike to Dominique Lark to put LU up 21-3.

After trading punts again, Grinnell struck next. A huge personal foul penalty on LU would aid the Pioneers in their drive, and Nate Wineinger made them pay, taking a 21-yard run to the house and cutting the lead to 21-10 at the end of the third quarter.

In the first drive of the fourth quarter, the Vikings used a little trickery to get on the board again. Dominique Lark, who caught a touchdown earlier, took the handoff from Aspenson and threw downfield to Korn for his second touchdown of the game. It was a 52-yarder, and after missing the extra point attempt, LU had a seemingly insurmountable 27-10 lead with 14 minutes left in the game.

The Pioneers were on the ropes, but LU could not put them away. After a Pfalzer fumble on the Grinnell 25 was recovered by Chris Guay, the Vikings tried adding three more – a Vince Iacopelli 38-yard field goal was up and good, but the play was brought back on a false start penalty on LU. The Vikings then went for it on the fourth down and failed to convert, giving Grinnell all the momentum they would need.

Pfalzer would lead the Pioneers downfield, hitting Trey Rainey for a touchdown with just less than 10 minutes left in the game. After two stops on LU, Grinnell got the ball back again and went downfield; it was Matt Teeters on the receiving end of a Pfalzer strike this time, but the extra point was missed, putting the score at 27-23. With 1:52 to go in the ballgame, Grinnell kicked it deep to LU.

After a muff of the kick, LU took over on its own 13-yard line. The Vikings ran the ball three times, had a fourth down with inches to go on their own 20-yard line, and decided to punt the ball away. Grinnell took over on its 40, with 1:16 to go in the game. Pfalzer took the lead for Grinnell, going 6-6 for 60 yards on the final drive and capping it off with a four yard strike to Raney that gave Grinnell the lead, 30-27 – with 24 seconds left to go. Two desperation passes were off the mark, and Grinnell stole a victory away 30-27.

The Vikings were led on offense by Lark, who had one catch for 12 yards and a touchdown, and one pass for 52 yards and a touchdown. Korn finished with four catches, for 87 yards on the day. Aspenson went 8-26 for 86 yards and two touchdowns. Bullock led the Viking rushing attack with 72 yards on 21 carries.

The Vikings are next in action off-campus, against a tough Lake Forest team. Kickoff is 1 p.m. Saturday.