Parbs Powers Warriors to Victory over Rockford, 49-41
It took six games, but the Wisconsin Lutheran College Warriors earned their first victory of the season, rolling past Rockford University, 49-41. Justin Parbs led the way, setting a career-high with 184 yards rushing and added four touchdowns to lead a bruising ground attack that produced 238 yards on the ground, helping the Warriors hang on the ball for 33:48.
Rockford took the opening kickoff and moved 52 yards to the Wisconsin Lutheran 37-yard line where they faced a fourth and 1. The coaching staff opted to go for it, and quarterback Jaelen Ray was able to complete a pass to Emani Johnson, but he was rocked for a 1 yard loss by the combination of Gabe Morgan and Errick Brooks, turning the ball over on downs.
The Warriors were unable to take advantage of the opportunity, but scored on their second possession of the contest. As the Regents had done earlier in the contest, the WLC coaching staff opted to go for it when faced with a fourth and 1 at the Rockford 44. Parbs rewarded the coaching staff, earning the tough one yard to give his team a fresh set of downs. Three plays later, the team was faced with another fourth down, but this time quarterback Nick Yockey kept the ball, racing for 9 yards for another first out. Two plays later, Jalen Harris found some daylight and rushed for 20 yards for a touchdown to put his team on top, 7-0.
Rockford responded right away, moving 68 yards in seven plays. Ray kept the drive alive with a huge 14-yard carry on third and 4 at his own 38 yard line. On second and nine at the Wisconsin Lutheran 47, he connected with Curtis Hosea for 34 yards down to the WLC 13. Two plays later, running back LaVar Johnson carried the ball in the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown to make it a 7-6 game.
The Warriors did a little responding of their own on their next possession, thanks to a spectacular effort by Parbs. After Yockey moved the ball into the Regents territory with a 16-yard completion to Trevion Green, Parbs took the handoff and burst outside, streaking down the sidelines for a 47-yard touchdown to give his team a 14-6 lead.
Back the other way Rockford went, this time needing eight plays to move 68 yards before scoring. Ray had the big play of the drive, completing a 21-yard pass to Joey Owens that moved the ball to the WLC 28. Two plays later, he connected with Jamon Carter-Grady for 17 yards, setting up first and 10 at the 11-yard line. Three plays later, Johnson found the end zone once again, scoring from 5 yards out to pull his team within two points. The two-point conversion was good, tying the score at 14.
Neither team could score on their next possession, but Wisconsin Lutheran College retook the lead with a little over two minutes left in the half. Starting from their own 34, the team began the drive with three straight running plays, giving them a first down. Yockey then completed two straight passes, including a 29-yard strike to Cole Schneider to move the ball to the Rockford 18. After Parbs carried the ball for an 11-yard gain, the WLC quarterback found his running back coming out of the backfield for a 47 yard completion, giving Parbs his second touchdown of the day.
That gave the Regents the ball with 2:16 left before the break, and they made the most of it, moving 77 yards in 10 plays to tie the score with just four seconds left in the half. Ray completed eight of nine pass attempts on the drive, including a 6-yard touchdown pass to Carter-Grady to tie the score at 21 heading into the break.
To start the half, WLC got the ball and needed just four plays to move 65 yards to retake the lead. On the third play of the drive, with the team needing 9 yards for a first down, Yockey connected with Parbs for a 60-yard completion down to the Rockford 4-yard line. On the next play, Harris burst off tackle, scoring his second touchdown of the day to make it a 28-21 WLC lead.
On their next drive, the Warriors found the end zone once again. The team moved from their own 29 into Rockford territory, reaching the 36 where they faced a fourth and 1. Yockey created a little time, then found Mike DuPree for a 41-yard touchdown completion put his team on top by 14.
Rockford was not to be deterred, heading the other way with an impressive nine play, 87-yard drive that pulled the team back within eight. The Ray-Owens connection helped keep the drive alive, connecting for a 27-yard completion that moved the ball to midfield. The Regents stayed on the ground for five of the next six plays. The last play of the drive was a 6-yard touchdown by Johnson, his third TD of the day.
The Warriors did a little responding of their own, moving 75 yards in 10 plays to extend their lead to 15. Yockey got the drive started with a 20-yard completion to Green, then Harris led the way, carrying the ball on three of the next five plays. Faced with a third and six at the Rockford 36, Yockey connected with Parbs for an 11-yard completion and another first down. Three plays later, the team had the ball at the 11, handing it off to Parbs. He burst off tackle to the left, shaking off two Rockford tacklers, then started heading toward the end zone. Two other Regents players had their opportunity to drag the WLC running back down, but he would not be denied, finding the end zone for his second rushing touchdown of the day.
Rockford was forced to punt on their next possession, and it took the Warriors just five plays to extend their lead to 22. On third and three from the Rockford 19, Parbs once again shook off a number of the Regents players attempting to drag him down, scoring his third touchdown on the ground of the day and fourth overall.
It looked like this game was going to be a blowout for the Warriors, as Rockford fumbled the ensuing kickoff, but the Rockford defense pulled out a huge goal line stand at their own 4-yard line to force a turnover on downs.
That sent them back the other way, where Johnson would score from 3 yards out on the ninth play of the drive, his fourth rushing touchdown of the day. The Regents recovered the onside kick and found the end zone once again when Ray found his running back coming out of the backfield for a 40-yard completion, the fifth touchdown of the day for Johnson.
The Regents trailed by just eight with 2:28 left in the contest. They went for the onside kick once again, but the ball was recovered by the Warriors. They were able to run out the clock, earning the 49-41 victory.
Parbs set a number of individual single-game records, starting with his 26 carries for 184 yards and three touchdowns. The running back also made six receptions for 96 yards and another score. Yockey completed 16 of 30 passes for 253 yards and two TDs. Ty Castillo led the team with 12 tackles. Johnny Knight had seven tackles and an interception.
Johnson had a huge day for Rockford, carrying the ball 13 times for 67 yards and four touchdowns. He also made three receptions for 69 yards and another score. Ray completed 33 of 48 passes for 413 yards and two touchdowns.
Wisconsin Lutheran College (1-5) welcomes Eureka (2-4) for homecoming next weekend. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00.
by Robert Pannier