Football beats Illinois College

Dylan Fogel

The Lawrence University football team pulled out an ugly, turnover-filled win on Saturday defeating the Blue Boys of Illinois College 22-18. The game featured nine turnovers: six by the Blue Boys (2-3, 2-2 in the MWC) and three safeties, including two by the Vikes. The defense, however, did hold the Boys to just 15 yards rushing on 24 attempts. The Lawrence secondary, and defensive tackle Jeremy Reider, picked the Blue Boys off five times, starting with starting quarterback Pete Jennings (no relation to the late broadcaster) whom they picked off twice and then proceeded to knock out of the game. The Illinois College backup Mitch Niekamp didn’t fair much better as he was picked off three more times and hurried countless more culminating in a monstrous block on an interception return that left him looking like he got hit by a bus.
Offensively, the Vikes (1-3,1-3) struggled through the air, but were able to rush the ball very effectively. The Vikings ran for 158 total yards and got a nice Vince Young-like performance from quarterback Eric Aspenson who rushed for 132 yards and one touchdown on 26 carries. Aspenson also threw for 135 yards. Freshman wide out and Appleton East grad Alex Maxam caught two passes for 60 yards; while the versatile Craig Ebert rushed 14 times, caught three passes, and returned kicks.
While the Vikes were grinding it out on offense, 46 rushing attempts and 41 minutes of possession, they got all the scoring they needed from their defensive front line. While holding a slim 10-7 lead with seven minutes left in the first half, Lawrence junior defensive tackle Jeremy Reider jumped in front of a Blue Boys screen pass and rumbled twenty-one yards for a momentum swinging touchdown which gave the Vikes a 17-7 lead heading into the break.
The second half was very unconventional as the Vikes scored first on an Illinois safety and again on Bryan Althouse’s second field goal of the game with 34 seconds left in the third making the score 22-7 heading into the fourth. With the way the Lawrence defense had been playing all afternoon the Vikes were looking at their first victory of the year. However, things got goofy in the fourth after the Blue Boys blocked a punt out of the end zone for a safety and then a few minutes later with 3:30 left in the game Blue Boys QB Mitch Niekamp found wide out Michael Jenning for a four-yard touchdown pass to bring the Blue Boys within 22-16 of the Vikings. After a three-and-out for the Vikes the Blue Boys got the ball back at mid-field with just under two minutes left in the game and a chance to take the lead. Viking Sophomore Andy Frelich had other plans, intercepting the Blue Boys a second time and effectively sealing the victory and helping snap the Viking’s five-game losing streak.