Lawrence Touchdown as Time Expires Tops Knox
Lawrence University scored a touchdown on the final play of the game to hand the Prairie Fire a heartbreaking 23-20 Midwest Conference loss on November 9.
Knox fought back from a 17-14 deficit when senior Derek Mortensen (Crystal Lake, IL, Crystal Lake South), who had another record-setting day, scored on a 1-yard run with 57 seconds to go to give the Prairie Fire a 20-17 lead. The touchdown, Mortensen's third of the afternoon, capped an 11-play, 83-yard drive.
The Vikings (1-8, 1-7 MWC) got the ball back on their own 31 yard line and followed with an 8-play, 69-yard march over a 49 second span that culminated in the winning score – a 17-yard pass from quarterback Luke Barthelmess to Isaac Barthelmess as time expired – to stun the Prairie Fire.
Knox picked off Luke Barthelmess on back-to-back possessions late in the first quarter and early in the second quarter. The Prairie Fire turned the second interception into an early lead.
The first interception, by junior Chaz Benton (Galesburg, IL, Galesburg), set the Prairie Fire up at the Lawrence 37 yard line with 31 seconds left in the first quarter. Knox, however, was unable to turn the miscue into points and gave the football back to the Vikings on downs at the LU 26 yard line.
Barthelmess threw a pass on the first play of the drive that junior Will Ruzicka (St. Louis, MO, St. Mary's) picked off with 12:55 to go in the first half. Knox (1-8, 1-7) turned to Mortensen, who scored on a 14-yard run at the 12:12 mark. Senior Phil Tallman (Park Ridge, IL, Maine South) kicked the extra point for a 7-0 Prairie Fire advantage.
Lawrence scored 10 points in less than 90 seconds to take a 10-7 lead into halftime.
Barthelmess threw a 15-yard touchdown pass with 3:03 remaining in the second quarter followed by a 30-yard field goal by Pat O'Mahoney with 1:40 left in the first half.
The Vikings took their biggest lead of the game at 17-7 on an 8-yard run by Barthelmess and the extra point with a little over 5:00 to go in the third quarter.
Mortensen broke loose for a 27-yard run into the end zone to trim the Lawrence lead to one possession at 17-14 with less than a minute in the period.
That set up the wild final minute of the game.
The Prairie Fire forced six turnovers by the Vikings – three interceptions and three fumbles. Ruzicka picked off his second pass of the game with 1:27 left in the third quarter and recorded a team-high nine tackles.
Lawrence finished with 418 total yards of offense, including 312 through the air. Knox gained 359 total yards – 263 of them on the ground – but managed to convert just 2-of-11 on third down and was 0-for-4 on fourth down.
Mortensen finished with career-highs of 42 carries and 246 yards rushing while breaking three school records and tying two others.
He set new all-time marks for career touchdowns (43) and career points (264), records previously held by Tom Neagle. Mortensen also established a new record for 100-yard rushing games in a season (8) after sharing the previous high of seven with Vince Singleton, Drew Sherman, and Matt Hayden. Mortensen tied the records for most 200-yard rushing games in a career (3) and consecutive games with a rushing touchdown (7).
Sophomore Ilir Emini (Yorkville, IL, Yorkville) led the Knox receivers with six catches and 81 yards. Sophomore quarterback Luke Oosterbaan (Palos Heights, IL, Marist) completed 8-of-19 passes for 96 yards with one interception.
Benton, along with his interception, forced a fumble and recorded seven tackles. Sophomore Mitch Weissenhofer (Homewood, IL, Marian Catholic) also forced a fumble, blocked a kick, and had eight tackles for the Prairie Fire.