Vikings pull off 8-6 win over Knox

Phil Roy

The Viking football team made the long trip down to Galesburg, Ill. for what would prove to be a tense, low-scoring affair with Knox. Lawrence headed into the game with a 2-3 conference record, looking to pull to even .500.
The game started slowly with the Prairie Fire putting together the only threatening drive of the first quarter, moving the chains three time to take them to the Lawrence 29.
The Viking defense stayed true, however, as Knox went on to turn the ball over on a long fourth-down pass attempt.
In the second quarter, the Viking offense continued to struggle, this time giving up the ball on a fumble by quarterback Nick Maxam. The costly turnover left Knox with just 11 yards to cover and despite a gutsy defensive effort, the Prairie Fire managed to put up the first points of the game four plays later.
The Vikings special teams then came up with what would be the game’s decisive play as freshman Matt Frelich blocked the extra point attempt which was swooped up by the “dangerous Derek Micke” and returned for a two-point defensive PAT.
The Vikings forced a fumble later in the quarter but the offense was unable to convert it for points, leaving the score at 6-2 at the half.
The third quarter was quite a dreary affair with the punt unit getting the call at the end of every drive.
Viking hopes began to fade at the start of the final quarter after backup QB Tyler Ankney turned the ball over on a fumble in the red zone at the end of Lawrence’s most promising drive of the three-quarter-old game.
Lawrence’s defense then created another opportunity, however, forcing the three-and-out and bring the offense back on to the field on Knox’s 37.
Ankney converted on a fourth-down pass attempt a few plays later, putting the Vikings on the 10-yard line with a full set of downs.
The quarterback from Lindenhurst, Ill. connected with Dominique Lark in the end zone three plays later to give the Vikings the two-point lead, which was followed by a failed two-point conversion attempt, which has come to be a Lawrence trademark.
Three quick Knox first downs later, the Vikings found themselves fending off the Prairie Fire on their own 35-yard line. The Lawrence defense forced a fourth-down situation that resulted in an incomplete pass and handed Lawrence their fourth conference win of the season.
Billy Bodle led the defense with 13 tackles and Derek Micke’s defensive PAT won him Conference Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
Lawrence’s pass defense restricted Knox to 17 passing yards. Freshman linebacker Matt Frelich, who made the crucial block on the extra point and forced a fumble in the second quarter, was named to D3 Football’s Team of the Week for his performance.
The not-so-attractive win saw star running back Aljay Wren limp off the field in the second quarter with what turned out to be a season-ending knee injury.
Wren ends his short but stellar season with 587 rushing yards and an average of 5.6 yards per carry. Wren won’t be the only starter missing action this Saturday, however.
Coach Chris Howard handed out 11 suspensions on Sunday to players for violating off-field team rules. That decision cuts the Lawrence playing roster down considerably for this Saturday’s homecoming game against Beloit.
The Buccaneers are 0-6 in the conference but will not be an easy opponent, especially considering the circumstances. The game kicks off at 1:30 at the Banta Bowl. It is Fall Festival, Lawrence’s interpretation of Homecoming, so do come out in support of the Vikings who have their first winning record at this stage of the season in 19 years.