Tyler Kulka Leads Lawrence Tech in Second Half Comeback Victory, 30-22
Lawrence Tech opted to renew their football program for the first time in 70 years, and the Blue Devils are making the most of it, winning their second game of the season as they downed Wisconsin Lutheran College 30-22 on Saturday. That came courtesy of an outstanding second half led by Lawrence Tech quarterback Tyler Kulka, who threw for 212 yards and three touchdowns in the victory. Patrick Mathieson had a solid game of his own, throwing for 220 yards and three scores to lead the Warriors.
Wisconsin Lutheran would take the opening kickoff and move 73 yards in nine plays to take an 8-0 lead. The drive looked like it would stall early when the Warriors were faced with third and eight from their own 29 yard line, but quarterback Patrick Mathieson found Nick Charles-Crowl for 13 yards and a first down. WLC would move to the 28 where they were faced with third and 6, but a roughing the passer call gave the Warriors new life. On the next play, Mathieson found Charles-Crowl once again, this time for a 14 yard touchdown. The two-point conversion was good and Wisconsin Lutheran led 8-0.
Lawrence Tech would add a field goal later in the quarter. The Blue Devils moved to the WLC three but a penalty set up third and goal at the six where an complete pass would lead to a field goal attempt. Conner Grobbel nailed the 24 yarder to cut the deficit to five.
In the second quarter, the Warriors would extend their lead to 11. Starting from their own 28 yard line, Mathieson would lead the team with a series of completions, including a 17 and a 16 yarder to Todd Lehman. The senior quarterback also added an 18 yard completion to Charles-Crowl and a 19 yard run that put the ball at the Lawrence Tech 1 yard line. Mathieson then found wide receiver Chrystan Woyak for the 1 yard strike and a touchdown. That made it 14-3, which would be the score heading into the half.
Tyler Kulka had struggled in the first half and this freshman laden lineup looked completely out of sync through the first 30 minutes. However, the Blue Devils looked like they created a new formula for winning during halftime and took over in the final 30 minutes.
The Blue Devils looked like they would cut into the Warriors lead on the first possession of the second half. They moved to the WLC 18 where they were faced with fourth and 10 and opted to go for it. However, they would fall 5 yards short of the first, turning the ball over on downs.
Mathieson made the most of it, first completing a 16 yard pass to Javion Morgan on third and 9 for a first down. He then found Morgan once again, this time for 36 yards down to the 18 yard line and a strike to Woyak would complete the drive to give WLC a 22-3 lead.
Lawrence Tech responded right away. Tyler Kulka opened with a 12 yard completion to move the ball to the WLC 45. The Blue Devils would reach the 26 yard line where they faced a fourth and 4. Tech opted to go for it and Kulka delivered, finding Nick Spohn for a 26 yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 12.
On their next possession, the Blue Devils would find the end zone once again. A 21 yard punt return by Kavon Higdon put the the ball at the Warriors 45 yard line. The combination of Kulka passing and Tanner Foley rushing (19 yards on 3 carries in the possession) moved the ball to the WLC 13. There, Kulka found Kendyl Williams for a touchdown and suddenly the Blue Devils were within five.
In the fourth, Lawrence Tech would take the lead. Pinned deep in their own territory, the Warriors were forced to punt from their own five. The 31 yard punt was fielded by Higdon, who returned it to the Wisconsin Lutheran 25. The defense stiffened, creating a fourth and nine at the 24, but Kulka kept the hot hand, finding Spohn for a touchdown to put the Blue Devils on top by one.
They would add another score on their next possession. A 32 yard punt was returned 31 yards by Higdon to the WLC 34. Foley carried the ball four straight times gaining a total of 27 yards. On second and goal at the 12, Kulka kept the ball and raced for the end zone to score, putting Lawrence Tech on top 30-22. That would be the final.
Tyler Kulka led Lawrence Tech, completing 18 of 38 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns. Tanner Foley rushed for 148 yards on 25 carries. Nick Spohn had four catches for 73 yards and two TDs. The Blue Devils were led on defense by Robbie Best who made 6-tackles and had 2-sacks.
Patrick Mathieson was 17-34 passing for 220 yards and 3 touchdowns. Chrystan Woyak had two touchdown receptions.
The Wisconsin Lutheran Warriors look to get in the win column next Saturday when they take on Hope College. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00.
By Robert Pannier