Warriors Roll on Ground Past Regents, 52-20
Wauwatosa, Wisconsin – The running game had not had much success this season for Wisconsin Lutheran College, but that was not the case on Saturday, as the Warriors rushed for 301 yards on their way to a 52-20 victory over Rockford University. Trevion Green led the way, rushing for 144 yards and two touchdowns, and Bryce Barbian threw for 196 yards and four scores. The victory gave Wisconsin Lutheran College their first victory of the season (1-4).
Wisconsin Lutheran took the opening kickoff and got right to work, scoring a field-goal on their first possession to make it 3-0. This was a long 13 play drive that saw the team start from their own 31, beautifully mixing the run and pass as the team rushed seven times and threw on five plays. Javier Murillo led the ground game, carrying the ball six times on the drive, gaining 30 total yards. On fourth and seven at the Rockford 13, the team opted to go for the field goal and Arnulfo Ortega nailed the 31 yarder.
The defense forced a punt for the Regents on their first possession of the game, putting the ball back in the hands of their offense. This time the Warriors would move 78 yards in just seven place before extending their lead to 10. Murillo set the stage for the drive, carrying the ball for 11 yards and a first down on the first play, then recording 26 yards when the team turned to the wildcat. Two plays later, the team faced third and six at the Rockford 36-yard line. That is when Barbian found Emmitt Hawkins over the middle, who brushed off a tackle, then found an opening and raced the remaining distance for the score.
The Regents were down, but quickly got on the board when they scored on their next possession. A 36-yard kickoff return by William Key put the ball at the WLC 48. Six plays later quarterback Jaelen Ray found Timothy Bearden in the flat for the 13-yard touchdown.
The Warriors were forced to punt on their next possession, and Rockford had an opportunity to tie the game when they moved from their own 40-yard line, reaching the WLC 20. It was a methodical drive that saw the team burn 6:40 off the clock, running 13 places for 40 yards. However, the drive stalled and Kaden Finnestad missed a 37 yard field goal to keep Wisconsin Lutheran on top by three.
Taking advantage of the miscue, the Warriors went back the other way, going 80 yards in nine plays to extend their lead back to 10. WLC stayed on the ground, carrying the ball on each of the first three plays for 17 total yards. On first in five at the WLC 42, Barbian found Hawkins down the middle for 29 yards and another first down. That put the ball at the Rockford 29. It looked like the drive may stall there when the team faced a third and 11 at the Regents 30, but Barbian found Murillo out of the backfield for a 13-yard completion and another first down. Two plays later, the Warriors quarterback connected with Jamil Gordon for 16 yards and another touchdown. That made it 17-7, which would be the score heading into the half.
It had been a fairly methodical first half that saw just 24 points scored and nine total possessions. However, the second half started out like a fire drill, as each team scored on their first two possessions of the half. The Regents began the second half at their own 25 and moved 75 yards in nine plays before cutting the deficit back to three. Ray led the drive, completing three of six passes for 29 yards, but it was a 23-yard touchdown run by Kyle Thompson that capped off the drive.
Gordon took the ensuing kickoff and returned 31 yards to his own 35. There Barbian went to work, finding his running back out of the backfield for 13 yards on third and 11 and then Green followed with a 40-yard run down to the 13. After a 10-yard completion to Hawkins, the team found themselves first and goal of the 3 yard line. The next two passes fell incomplete, setting up third and goal, but Barbian found Gordon to the left side for the touchdown to make it 24-13.
Back the other way Rockford went. Starting from their own 40, Ray began the drive with a short pass to Curtis Hosea, who made the catch, then avoided two tackles before racing 47 yards down to the WLC 13. Four plays later, Ray rushed up the middle for the score to cut the deficit to four.
Not to be denied, the Warriors responded once again, going 68 yards in 10 plays to give themselves an 11-point cushion. Green and Murillo led the drive, as the two combined to carry the ball 6 times for 24 yards. However, it looked like the drive would stall when the team faced fourth in 10 at the Rockford 33. Barbian bailed his team out, however, finding Murillo to the right side. The running back made a nice move, then burst down the sidelines for a 33 yard touchdown.
The defense made Rockford punt on their next drive then Chris Cooper came up with a huge defensive play on the first possession for the Regents of the fourth quarter. Cooper read a Great pass attempt perfectly, intercepting it at the Regents 34, and returning it 17 yards down to the 17. Six plays later Green scored from 1 yard out on fourth and one to extend the lead to 18.
Another big defensive play helped Wisconsin Lutheran extend their lead to 25. Rockford started their next possession on their own 25, and were able to move out to their 46. On second and six, Ray went back to pass but was sacked by Cooper. Cooper forced a fumble, which was recovered by Kyle Kubacki. Kubacki scooped up the ball at the Rockford 22 and raced for the end zone for the score. That made it 45-20.
With a little under three minutes left in the game, Wisconsin Lutheran added one more touchdown. Starting from their own 47, the team kept the ball on the ground as Green carried the ball on each of the first two plays, gaining 11 yards. On first and 10 at the Rockford 42, he burst over the left side and raced the rest of the distance, scoring to make it 52-20.
Green finished with 144 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 carries. Murillo had 130 yards on 24 carries and he also had four catches for 64 yards and a score. The 301 yards rushing was a season-high for the team. Barbian finished 17 of 26 for 196 yards and four scores. Hawkins had five catches for 82 yards.
The Warriors defense had a solid day, recording three sacks, a forced fumble, and an interception. Brandon Antczak and Layson Handwork each had six tackles to lead the team.
Next Saturday, the Wisconsin Lutheran College Warriors (1-4, 1-2) welcome the Lakeland University Muskies (2-2, 1-1). The contest begins at 1:00 p.m.