Football captures hearts with dramatic victory over Carroll

Philip Roy

On Saturday, Lawrence University played host to Carroll College for the Vikings’ first home game of the season. The Vikes were hoping to bounce back from a tough loss to Ripon while Carroll was looking to continue its unbeaten run within the Midwest Conference. Lawrence fans turned out in high numbers for what would prove to be one the most exciting contests in recent Lawrence history.
Carroll’s offense, which scored 52 points in their last outing, started out strong taking their first drive all the way into the end zone. Lawrence quarterback Eric Aspenson showed mobility and composure in executing the spread option offense in the first quarter and eventually put the Vikes on the scoreboard with a 66-yard scramble to start the second quarter. A blocked extra point, however, resulting in a defensive PAT, let Carroll keep a slim 3-point lead which they soon extended after a 19-yard touchdown pass. On their next drive, the Vikings made full use of three receptions by senior captain Nick Korn and a 34-yard rush by freshman RB Craig Ebert to pull them back into contention. As the half wound down, Carroll’s offense was shut down by an impressive Viking defense and the LU offense drew the crowd into the game, scoring twice to take a 25-16 score into the locker room.
Carroll pounced back in the second half to pull within 3. Towards the end of the third quarter, the Vikings completed an impressive 86-yard drive to extend their lead. The drive included a dramatic fourth-down fake punt, converted successfully by Aspenson. Carroll, however, took control of the fourth quarter and regained the lead with three minutes on the game clock. The score stood at 36-32 as Lawrence prepared for what would surely be their last drive of the game. Junior Adrell Bullock set the Vikings up on Carroll’s own 44 with a crucial 36-yard return. The Lawrence offense stayed true, regaining the lead, but an unsuccessful 2-point conversion gave Carroll the possibility of winning the game with a field goal. And that’s exactly what it came down to. Two rushes and two LU penalties later, the Carroll kicker was brought out to attempt a decisive 33-yard field goal. LU fans came to their feet as backup quarterback P.J. Hilbert extended an arm to block the attempt and secure the thrilling victory.
The win was the first for new head coach Chris Howard and the Vikings’ first of the season. The team was aided by impressive performances from all around. Aspenson put up tremendous stats, completing 20 of 32 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown and carrying the ball for 115 yards and 2 touchdowns. Korn had a career high day with 14 receptions for 164 yards and a touchdown. Junior safety Joe Austin led the team with 9 tackles and was named the Midwest Conference’s Defensive Player of the Week. P.J. Hilbert’s heroics saw him being chosen as the MWC’s Special Teams Player of the Week and also earned him a spot on’s national Team of the Week. Ebert also stood out, rushing for 140 yards and his first 2 touchdowns as a Viking.