Critical errors hinder Vikings in loss to St. Norbert

Phil Roy

The Banta Bowl opened its gates to Vikings fans for the first time this year as Lawrence squared off against St. Norbert in the season’s first home game. Things looked promising as the game got underway with newcomer quarterback Nick Maxam connecting with former St. Norbert star Aljay Wren for a 36-yard gain on the offence’s first play from scrimmage.
The home crowd was silenced soon after, however, as Maxam saw his pass intercepted just two plays later. The Green Knights struggled to drive against a stubborn Lawrence defense but converted on two third down attempts, including a third and 19, on their way into the Viking end zone.
Both teams were unable to put any more points on the board as the first quarter drew to a close. A blocked punt at the end of a Viking drive in the second quarter, however, left the defense defending a first down on their own 4-yard line.
The expected followed and the Vikings found themselves with a 14-point deficit. The Green Knights went on to extend their lead with just 12 seconds left on the clock, leaving a 21-0 scoreline on the board at the half.
The Lawrence defense started the second half with similar grit to the first, forcing a three and out on St. Norbert’s first possession. Wren then held on to his second long pass of the game for a 60-yard touchdown to put the Vikings on the board.
Soon after another stop by Lawrence’s defense, Maxam gave up his second turnover of the game as his pass was intercepted and returned to Vikings’ 13-yard line. Standout Lawrence cornerback Derek Micke managed to return the favor five plays later, picking off Green Knights’ Cody Craig in the end zone for a touchback.
The woes continued for the home team, however, as kicker Kenny Alvord saw another punt blocked, this time putting St. Norbert on the Vikings’ seven. Norbert’s scored again to end the scoring for the third quarter.
The Viking’s drove down the field to start the fourth and topped off the drive with another Wren touchdown, this time on a short-run play. Any hopes of a comeback were soon shattered as the Green Knights scored on their next two possessions to claim the 42-14 victory.
Despite the imposing final scoreline, the Vikings matched up well against the conference powerhouse Green Kights, putting up 371 offensive yards against Norbert’s 407. The Vikings also had three more first downs in the encounter. Billy Bodle had nine tackles to lead the gritty defensive effort.
Maxam went 12 of 27 for 242 yards and a touchdown in his first Banta Bowl appearance. The transfer from UW-Platteville has jumped into the starting role in his first season with the Vikings, taking the place of Eric Aspenson who did not return this year.
Despite the loss, Lawrence fans were treated to two Viking touchdowns, both coming from junior transfer Wren. The running back, who stood out at St. Norbert in his freshmen year, has already stamped his name on Lawrence football in just three games.
Wren scored on the Vikings’ longest touchdown from scrimmage as he held on to a pass for a 99-yard touchdown in Lawrence’s loss to Monmouth two weeks ago.
Wren currently leads the offense in rushing and receiving yardage and has 500 all-purpose yards in just three weeks. Asked about the stellar start he has had this season and the Vikings’ performance so far, Wren replied, “I’m just glad to be contributing and hope to be a part of one of the best seasons Lawrence football has had in the recent past. We’ve had a rough start, playing against the top two teams in the conference, and I feel like we haven’t shown our full potential yet. The young guys are starting to make plays, the older ones are leading better, and we’ll hopefully show our true capability as the season progresses.”
The Vikings take on Grinnell College Saturday at the Banta Bowl and will look to secure their first home win of the season. The game kicks of at 1 p.m. Come fill up the stands in support of your Vikings. The Pep Band will be there.Note: Attending home football games is a Freshman Studies requirement.