Vikings fall a point short, lose to IC

Phil Roy

The Vikings made the long trip down to Illinois College last weekend looking to come home with a winning record. The Blueboys came into the competition with a 2-1 conference record, with their one loss being against Ripon the prior Saturday.
The first quarter was nowhere close to the one witnessed by Viking fans at the Banta Bowl a week earlier, as both teams failed to put any points on the board.
Illinois College threatened on their first drive where they had a first and goal situation on the Lawrence six. A fumble recovered by senior captain Tyler Krzewina on the second-down play, however, thwarted that threat.
The Blueboys marched down the field to start the second quarter and were this time able to convert in the red zone, scoring on a short pass play to take the 7-0 lead.
A seemingly arrogant play call by the Illinois College coaches almost backfired as an attempted onside kick was recovered by Viking freshman linebacker Kevin Penza and returned for a touchdown.
An inadvertent whistle blown by one of the officials, however, forced the touchdown to be disallowed and the Vikings were given the ball at the IC 15.
The episode did end favorably for Lawrence, nevertheless, as Maxam hit Dominique Lark for six that did stay on the scoreboard.
Both teams were unable to move the chains on their next drives and Viking freshman Brian Janssen picked off a pass on IC’s final second quarter drive to keep the teams locked at seven apiece at the half.
The Blueboys took the lead early in the third quarter, making use of a long kickoff return and a 30-yard pass play to reach the Lawrence end zone.
Later in the quarter, Illinois College picked off one of Maxam’s passes before running back Jon Howard rushed 34 yards to extend the home team’s lead to 14.
The persistent Vikings put themselves right back in it to start the fourth quarter with Maxam hitting senior receiver Jake Tewalt for a 54-yard touchdown.
A couple of three-and-outs and an IC missed field goal later, the Vikings found themselves in possession with the game clock winding down.
Lawrence drove 75 yards down the field with big plays by Maxam, Wren, Lark and Tewalt before Aljay Wren put the score at 20-19 with a five-yard run.
With less than two minutes on the clock, the coaches, hoping to play off of the momentum, went for the win with a two-point conversion attempt. The gamble didn’t pay off, as Wren’s rush attempt and the Vikings came up short.
The heartbreaker leaves the Vikings at the 2-3 mark halfway through their season. The goal of having a winning season for the first time since 1987 – as the players’ shirts remind them – is still very much in reach, and the Vikings will look to pull back to .500 when they face Lake Forest (1-4) at the Banta Bowl this Saturday.
Lake Forest’s defense is ranked as one of the best in the conference and will surely test the Vikings’ passing game.
The game kicks off at 6 p.m., and the lit up Banta Bowl will surely provide an electrifying atmosphere. This will be the first Viking night game in 6 years! Be there!
Kickoff at 6 p.m.; I’ll be grilling at 5.