Buccaneers buckle under Vikings’ defensive pressure

The Lawrence Football team took on Beloit this weekend in their homecoming game. The Vikings were looking to get off to a hot start in conference as it was their first conference game. The team was greeted by a large crowd that included students, alumni, the pep band and President Burstein.

Beloit took an early 3-0 lead in the first quarter but the Vikings responded on the very next possession with a 12 play, 75-yard drive that was capped off by a touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Chance Byrd to fellow freshman Cole Erickson. The Vikings struck again early in the second quarter completing an eight play, 80-yard drive with a 24-yard pass from Byrd to sophomore receiver Trevor Spina.

Lawrence took halftime to honor six newly inducted members into the hall of fame, including current softball coach Kim Tatro. After the break, the Vikings got right back to work.

LU extended its lead early in the fourth quarter with a 55-yard touchdown pass from Byrd to senior receiver Taylor Mandich to make the score 21-6. The Buccaneers drove down the field on the ensuing possession and cut the lead with a touchdown making it a 21-13 game. Beloit got the ball back with 5:30 left in the game and were looking to tie the game up and send it to overtime.

The Lawrence defense had other ideas, though, and came up with a key stop on fourth down after senior linebacker Brandon Taylor broke up a pass. The offense took over from there and ran out the clock after getting a few first downs. Lawrence won by a final score of 21-13.

The Vikings defense dominated Beloit’s offense all day and held them to only 266 yards of total offense. The defense was anchored by Taylor who led the team with 14 tackles and two pass breakups. His performance earned him Midwest Conference (MWC) honorable mention defensive performer of the week.

“It was a great all-around team performance. Our offense played a great game, and it was awesome to be able to make a defensive stand late to win the game,” Taylor said. “While it’s great to have your individual play recognized by the conference, it’s a team award. It’s really a reflection of how hard our entire team has worked.”

Quarterback Chance Byrd went 23-36 for 274 yards and three touchdowns and also earned MWC honorable mention offensive performer of the week in his first career start. Receiver Taylor Mandich had a monster game hauling in eight catches for 130 yards and a touchdown.

“The atmosphere was electrifying. Having the support of the pep band and fans definitely motivated us to play as a team and for each other,” sophomore lineman Jackson Straughan said.

The Vikings go on the road this week to take on Carroll at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 18.