The Beloit College fell to Lawrence University in a close road game Saturday afternoon in Appleton, Wisconsin.
After a Buccaneer three-and-out, the Vikings capitalized on their first drive of the game. Lawrence marched 82 yards in 11 plays to take an early 6-0 lead.
A second Buc drive stalled but Beloit’s defense provided a spark and got their offense back onto the field after just one Vikings snap. On first and ten at the Viking 39, LU back Jordan Jenkins lost the handle and Marco Perez jumped on the loose ball to give the Buc offense great field position at their opponent’s 41.
Erick Mitchell dropped back on the first play of the drive and hit Abe Quijas for a 33-yard strike down to the Lawrence eight-yard line. Juan Reyes got the handoff for a short gain of two yards before Mitchell went to his legs for the six-yard scoring burst. Andy Berlin’s point after sailed through the uprights and Beloit captured the lead 7-6.
Nearing the end of the first quarter, the Buc defense forced a three-and-out and Beloit’s offense took over after the Vikings’ punt went out of bounds at the Buccaneer 44. On second down, Joey Werner was tapped for the carry scampering ten yards for a new set of downs. Mitchell found Kentreyal Carraway for a seven-yard pickup taking the Bucs down to the Viking 38.
On third and three, Mitchell found another Buc receiver, this time hitting Reyes for a 17-yard strike. There was a sense of déjà vu as two plays later Mitchell dropped back and looked Reyes’ way again. He reeled it in for another 17-yard gain taking Beloit into the redzone at the Lawrence six. The Viking defense stiffened but a holding penalty on third and goal gave the Bucs a brand new set of downs on the two-yard line. Mitchell’s pass fell incomplete on first down but Werner plunged through the line on the next play for the touchdown. The extra point attempt was no good but the Bucs widened their lead to 13-6.
Once again, the Buc defense cut the Viking drive short as Pat Nicolas picked off Billy Wallisch at the Bucs’ 45 and an 11-yard return had Beloit over midfield. Werner carried for nine yards on second and third down but faced with fourth and one, the Bucs called timeout with 9:42 left in the half.
Trusting their workhorse, Beloit went to Werner who surged forward for line to gain picking up first down and moving the chains. On third and eight, Mitchell went back to the air finding Reyes, this time for 26-yards, taking Beloit down to the Lawrence six. On second and six, Mitchell connected with Carraway for the touchdown strike. A fumble caused the extra point to fail and Beloit’s advantage swelled to 19-6.
The Vikings put together the next scoring drive, or rather, in an odd turn of events, a drive where both teams scored. Lawrence moved the ball quickly driving 68 yards in six plays taking less than two minutes off the clock for a touchdown. However, Nicolas blocked the extra point attempt and returned it for the defensive PAT added two points to the Bucs’ total.
At the half, the scoreboard read 21-12 in favor of the Buccaneers.
Lawrence received the kickoff to start the second half and marched 65 yards in 11 plays to cut the lead to 21-19.
Beloit’s first drive of the half was cut short by a fumble on the second play of the drive. The loose ball was recovered at midfield by a Viking defender who took the return 43 yards, down to the Beloit seven-yard line. Two plays later, Lawrence found the endzone and regained the lead 25-21 after another missed extra point.
The Vikings widened the margin courtesy of special teams play returning a punt for 70 yards two drives later. This time the point after was good and Lawrence took a 32-21 lead.
With 2:18 left in the third quarter, Caleb Wachal returned the kickoff 23 yards to set the Buc offense up at their own 36. Mitchell continued to spread the ball around finding yet another Beloit receiving, this time Travis Price hauled in the pass for a 34-yard gain taking the Buccaneers across midfield and to the Lawrence 30. The Bucs would move into the redzone in the final three plays of the third quarter.
Mitchell found Reyes to start the fourth for a two-yard gain on second down. Faced with third and six, Mitchell again went to the air, this time targeting Carraway who secured the catch and the touchdown to narrow the gap to 32-27. The Bucs went for two but Mitchell’s pass was intercepted.
The Buccaneer defense held the Vikings the rest of the way but the Lawrence defense countered. Beloit’s best opportunity in the final minutes of the fourth quarter came on a drive that started with just over five minutes left in the game.
The Buc defense had forced a three and out and the Viking punter booted the ball just seven yards giving Beloit the ball near midfield. Mitchell opened the drive with a 13-yard completion to Reyes followed by a seven-yard strike to Ethan Conley. Werner took over on third and short to move the chains and give Beloit a new set of downs at the Lawrence 28.
Werner surged ahead for a gain of three but two incompletions made it fourth and seven at the Viking 25. Lawrence came up with the interception on fourth down to take over at their own 12-yard line.
Beloit still had a chance with their dynamic defense on the field. On the Vikings’ second play of the drive, the ball popped out and once again the Bucs recovered, this time Michael Lafayette came up with the big turnover.
The Buccaneer offense took the field at the Lawrence 24 with just over two minutes to go. A Lawrence penalty made it first and five at the Lawrence 19 but a holding penalty on the next play pushed the Bucs back to the 29. An incomplete pass followed by a short gain forced third and 14 at the Viking 28, and a Beloit timeout.
Mitchell looked for Quijas out of the timeout but the pass fell incomplete. He was forced to go to his legs on fourth and long but was unable to pick up the first down, turning it over to the Vikings on downs with 1:16 left. Lawrence was able to run out the clock from there.
Mitchell was 16-of-31 through the air for 206 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions on the day. Reyes was his favorite target with seven receptions for 81 yards. Carraway added four catches for 29 yards and two TDs. On the ground, Werner carried the ball 29 times for 112 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, Nicolas led the Buccaneers with 18 tackles and an interception. Wachal added 12 tackles and Lafayette registered 10 including a tackle for a loss of eight yards and a fumble recovery.
The Bucs will host St. Norbert College Saturday, November 3 at Strong Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.