Last Second Touchdown Spoils Warriors Comeback
DePere, Wisconsin – The Wisconsin Lutheran College Warriors scored what looked like the winning touchdown with 52 seconds left in Saturday afternoon’s game against the St. Norbert Green Knights. However, St. Norbert scored 13 seconds later to earn a 37-32 victory over WLC. That spoiled an outstanding performance by Bryce Barbian, who threw for 380 yards and four touchdowns.
This was a strong defensive battle through the first three quarters, as the Green Knights held an 18-13 lead through 45 minutes. Neither team was able to move the ball much through the first five possessions, as there were four punts and a turnover on downs to start the game. However, three straight touchdowns closed out the first quarter.
The first came on the third possession of the day for St. Norbert. Starting from their own 25, the team moved down the field, needing 10 plays before Peyton Lyon found Paul Bageanis for a 7-yard touchdown reception. Delton Zulegar was the star on the drive, carrying the ball five times for 32 yards.
The Warriors responded right away, moving 65 yards in five plays, needing just 1:58 off the clock. Barbian got the drive going with a 5-yard run, then completed a pass to Trevion Green for 8 yards and a first down. Mike Dupree had a 12-yard carry on the drive that set up third and three. That is when Barbian went back to pass, finding Landon Neeley for a 45-yard strike down the middle, giving WLC a 7-6 lead.
St. Norbert began their next drive at the end of the first quarter, continuing it into the second. The team moved 70 yards in nine plays before retaking the lead. This time it was Zuelger finding the end zone, racing 14 yards to make it 12-7.
Neither team was able to generate much offense over the remainder of the second quarter. However, with 1:55 left in the half, Wisconsin Lutheran gained possession of the ball at the St. Norbert 39 when Lyon fumbled the ball and Kyle Kubacki was able to recover.
The Warriors got 14 yards right away when Dupree rushed to the Green Knights 25. It looked like the drive would stall on fourth and eighth at the St. Norbert 23, but Barbian found Neeley for an 11-yard completion down to the 12 yard line. After a 9-yard pass completion to Javier Murillo put the ball at the three, Barbian’s next two passes fell incomplete, setting up fourth and one with three seconds left in the half. The Warriors opted to go for the field goal, but Arnulfo Ortego’s 20-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Brock Bookmeier, sending the Green Knights into the locker room on top by five.
Each team got on the board in the third quarter. The Green Knights scored on their second possession of the second half, as the team needed just four plays to move 75 yards. A huge 54-yard carry by Owen Kudick put the ball at the Wisconsin Lutheran 14. Two plays later, Zulegar scored from 9 yards out to make it 18-7.
The Warriors responded right away, moving 75 yards in nine plays to cut the deficit to five. Barbian had three huge pass completions in the drive, including a 31-yard strike to Green down to the 8 yard line. On the next play, Dupree found his way through the line, reaching the end zone to make it 18-13. The two-point conversion failed.
This had been a defensive struggle for much of the contest, but things turned quickly in the fourth quarter. The Green Knights extended their lead to 12 on a 56-yard touchdown pass from Lyon to Kudick.
Back the other way the Warriors went, moving 62 yards to make it a 25-20 game. Barbian was huge on the drive, connecting on two fourth-down conversions to keep the drive going. That included a 12-yard touchdown pass to Emmitt Hawkins.
St. Norbert responded right away, staying on the ground for seven of the eight plays of the drive. Zulegar got things going with three straight carries for 16 yards, and Kudick finished the drive off, carrying the ball the final 31 yards, including for a 1 yard touchdown burst.
Wisconsin Lutheran cut the deficit to five with 52 seconds left in the game. Barbian led a 50-yard drive, completing seven of his eighth pass attempts, including a 7 yard pass to Green for their second touchdown connection of the day. The two-point conversion was intercepted.
Wisconsin Lutheran opted to go for the onside kick and recovered when Jake Antczak recovered the kick at the St. Norbert 38. On the next play, Barbian found Hawkins for a 38-yard touchdown to give the Warriors their first lead of the game.
Things were looking bright for WLC, but Lyon was unflustered, completing two quick passes for 22 total yards, putting the team at the WLC 47. On the next play, Lyon found Bageanis, who was a step ahead of two defenders, deep down the field. The receiver hauled in the pass, rolling into the end zone for the touchdown to make it 37-32.
The Warriors had the ball one more time at their own 32 with 13 seconds left, but Hawkins took a Barbian pass, then fumbled to give St. Norbert the ball and the victory.
Barbian was impressive in his second game of the season, completing 34 of 52 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns. Dupree carried the ball 20 times for 100 yards and a score and Green had 14 catches for 152 yards and a TD. Hawkins had nine catches for 99 yards and two scores and Neeley had three receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown. The Wisconsin Lutheran College defense was led by Layson Handwork, who had 13 tackles.
Next Saturday the Wisconsin Lutheran College Warriors (0-3) will travel to take on the Concordia Wisconsin Falcons (2-1) in the Lutheran Bowl. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.
by Robert Pannier