The Lawrence University Football team lost a hard-fought 58-35 game to Ripon College last Saturday to finish their season. The Vikings finished 0-10, and it will be the first time in Lawrence University football history that the team failed to win at least one game.The Vikings and Redhawks piled up the offense. Both teams combined for over 1200 yards, an astounding number.
The Redhawks were powered by their running back Luke Hagel. Hagel ran for 277 yards and four touchdowns for Ripon. The Vikings countered with their star running back Justin Berrens. Berrens ran for 200 yards and a touchdown for the Vikings.
The Redhawks and Vikings played a tight first quarter. After Nick Vraney caught a touchdown pass for the Redhawks, Berrens struck for Lawrence. He had several amazing runs, and he capped it off with a 13-yard touchdown run to tie the game at seven. Hagel put in the first of his four late in the quarter to put Ripon ahead for good, 14-7.
Hagel scored again early in the second quarter, but again was answered by an LU touchdown. Just over a minute later Zach Michael scored the first of his three on the day. With his three touchdowns Michael tied the all time record for receiving touchdowns with 30. He will have a full season next year to break and set the record.
After the Michael touchdown, Ripon took control. They scored on four successive possessions while holding the Vikings scoreless over the same period. By halftime, Ripon had suddenly jumped to a 45-14 lead over the Vikings.
The Vikings did not give up, however. They began to claw their way back against the powerful Ripon defense. The Vikings offense came alive under the running of Berrens. Late in the third, Chris McGinley, playing in his last game for the Vikings, hit Adam Tegelman in the end zone for a 10-yard TD. The score was now 45-21.
Ripon added another score as Hagel took it in again, capping off his record-setting day. Hagel scored his fourth touchdown of the game tying the Ripon single game record. Previously in the game he set single season rushing records for both yards and touchdowns for the Redhawks.
The Vikings did not let up the pressure as the fourth quarter wound down. McGinley and Michael connected two more times for the Vikings to make the score 52-35. Finally Ripon scored a cheap touchdown as time ran out, when their third string quarterback threw a meaningless touchdown with one second left. The season ran out for the Vikings and they walked off with a 58-35 loss.
The Vikings did not win a game this season, but they did not give up. Justin Berrens and Zach Michael had amazing seasons once again for Lawrence. They were both named to the first team all MWC as voted by the league’s coaches. On the second team was offensive lineman Tony Bouressa. Bouressa was the anchor of an offensive line hampered by injuries this season.
Honorable mentions went to defensive lineman Steve Heindel, linebacker B.J. Berlowski, and tight end/quarterback Chris McGinley. Both Heindel and Berlowski played above expectations this season for LU.
McGinley was everything for the Vikings. He was a star tight end in the beginning of the season, catching 19 passes and a touchdown. Then he became the Vikings’ quarterback in the second half of the season. McGinley did better than many expected, completing 45 passes and six touchdowns.
On paper, the Vikings did have the worst season in the history of Lawrence football. This was the first time ever the Lawrence football team ever failed to win a game. However, the individual accomplishments and the team’s persistence are major accomplishments. These guys had heart, and while at times it looked like they were giving up, in the long run they kept fighting until the last whistle sounded.
Next season will be one to watch for football fans. Michael will break the all time receiving touchdowns records with his first TD next fall, and he should go on to set the record to an almost unreachable height. Berrens will be back in the backfield waiting to run over opposing defenses again. Most of the injury-depleted secondary will be back for the Vikings, giving them a big defensive boost. This team will be an interesting one to watch next fall.