Parbs, Griffeth Lead Warriors in Shootout with Rockford
It was an exciting offensive display on Saturday, as the Wisconsin Lutheran College Warriors and the Rockford Regents combined for 1048 yards in a 52-35 victory for the Warriors. Justin Parbs led WLC on the ground, rushing for 187 yards and two touchdowns and Nate Griffeth led the team through the air, throwing for 326 yards and four TDs. Ray Jaelen threw for 375 yards and five scores for Rockford.
This game started off disastrous for the Warriors, as they turned the ball over on the opening kickoff. Rockford took over at the Wisconsin Lutheran 42 and scored five plays later. Ray found Maurice Williams for a 16-yard touchdown to cap off the drive, but Savon Goodwin blocked the extra point to make it 6-0.
On their next possession, another fumble turned the ball over deep in Warriors territory. Two plays later, Ray found Titus Cannon for a 24-yard touchdown and, after a successful two-point conversion, it was 14-0 Regents.
Wisconsin Lutheran was unfazed by the tough start, scoring touchdowns on each of their next five drives to take a 35-20 lead into the half. On their third possession of the game, WLC began at their 30. Moving methodically down the field, the team went 70 yards in 13 plays, taking 4:56 off the clock before Parbs scored from 1 yard out. Three times the team had converted third-downs to keep the drive alive.
The Warriors tied the game on their next possession. After the defense forced a punt after just four plays for Rockford, Wisconsin Lutheran began at midfield. Griffeth completed a 15-yard pass to Trevion Green to begin the drive, then Parbs took over, caring the ball three straight times for 25 total yards. On second and seven at the 10, Griffeth found Cole Schneider for a touchdown to tie the score at 14.
The WLC defense forced the Regents to punt on their next possession, and it took just one play for Wisconsin Lutheran to take the lead. Starting at the own 15, Griffeth handed the ball to Parbs, who burst through the line, racing 85 yards to make it 21-14.
Rockford looked to respond, moving to the WLC 28, but turned the ball over on downs. The Warriors made them pay, going the opposite direction in eight plays before Griffeth found Green for a 32-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 14.
Once again, the Regents mounted to drive, moving to the WLC 17. There, Ray found Emani Johnson with a 16-yard pass to the one. Ray then connected with Jack Carey on the next play to make it 28-20. Kyle Kubacki blocked the extra point to keep it an eight-point lead.
The Warriors responded. Rockford’s onside kick attempt failed, giving the Warriors the ball at their own 44. It looked like the Regents defense would make another big play when Mykal Brown intercepted a Griffeth pass on the third play of the possession, but a pass interference call negated the interception. On the next play, Parbs scored from 8 yards out to make it 35-20. That would be the score heading to halftime.
The Regents scored on their second possession of the first half to cut their deficit to seven. The team put together a methodical drive, going 54 yards in a little over six minutes. Ray found Carey for their second touchdown connection of the day to make it 35-28.
Not to be outdone, the Warriors scored on their next possession. Griffeth got the drive going with a 13-yard pass to Green for a first down, the team was in a little trouble when they faced third and eight at the Rockford 40. That is when the WLC quarterback found Parbs out of the backfield for a 40 yard catch and run to extend the lead back to 14.
The Regents were not going away in this contest, however. They put together another methodical drive on their next possession, moving 75 yards in 5:29 before Ray connected for his fifth touchdown pass of the day.
The story for Wisconsin Lutheran all day was how well the team responded when Rockford scored, and this was the case on this drive as well. The Warriors went 58 yards and 10 plays before Arnulfo Ortega drilled a 23-yard field goal to extend the lead to 10.
Rockford looked like they would pull back within three when they moved quickly down to the Wisconsin Lutheran 25, but Jake Antczak stripped Johnson of the ball. Connor Martin recovered, giving his offense a chance to seal the victory. That is exactly what they did, as Jalen Harris carried the ball on four of the first five plays. That included scoring from 2 yards out to make it 52-35, which would be the final.
It was a huge day for Parbs, who had 187 yards and two touchdowns rushing and 120 yards and two touchdowns receiving. Green had 91 yards and a TD off seven catches and Schneider had five receptions for 71 yards and a score. Griffeth was impressive in his first start, going 19-26 for 326 yards and four TDs. Despite giving up 35 points, the defense made a number of big plays in the game. Ty Castillo was tied for the team lead in tackles with 10, had a sack, and a fumble recovery. Kubacki had two sacks and a forced fumble.
The Wisconsin Lutheran College Warriors (2-4) travel to take on Eureka (2-5) next Saturday. Kickoff is at 6:00.
by Robert Pannier