The Lawrence University football team hit on several big plays on offense and defense and rolled to a 33-12 Midwest Conference victory over Knox College on Saturday in the Banta Bowl.
Lawrence (1-1, 1-0 MWC) also shut the Prairie Fire (0-2, 0-1) out in the second half on its way to winning its home and conference opener for the first time since 2004. The Lawrence defense also picked up a pair of safeties.
The Vikings didn’t waste any time in opening the scoring. Freshman running back Shawn Martin took the handoff on the first play from scrimmage and blasted 64 yards for his first career touchdown and a 6-0 lead just 18 seconds into the game.
The Lawrence defense then struck for a score of its own just 1:12 later. Knox quarterback Bill Meyer fumbled and the ball was scooped up by Robbie Ulloa at the Lawrence 34-yard line. He raced 66 yards for the score and the Vikings led 13-0 at the 13:30 mark of the first quarter. Ulloa had a game-high eight tackles, including 2.5 for loss, 2.0 sacks, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.
Knox cut the lead in half when Meyer connected with Clarke Cuthbert on a 28-yard touchdown pass with 12:12 left in the second quarter. That capped a seven-play, 80-yard drive.
Lawrence got its first safety of the game on Knox’s next possession. With the Prairie Fire facing a second-and-17 at the Knox 10, Meyer fumbled and the rolled into the end zone. Meyer kicked the ball out of the end zone for the safety and a 15-6 Lawrence lead.
The Prairie Fire trimmed that lead to 15-12 with a Meyer to Cuthbert scoring pass with 37 seconds left in the second quarter. Cuthbert finished with five catches for 123 yards.
Lawrence took command early in the fourth quarter. After a Kyle Gauthier pooch punt backed Knox up to its own 2-yard line, Antonio Melara burst through the line and tackled Luke Northam in the end zone for another safety.
After the ensuing free kick, Lawrence took over at its own 48-yard line. Quarterback Tyler Mazur burst through the left side of the line on the next play and went 52 yards for the score and a 24-12 Lawrence lead with 12:50 left in the game.
Lawrence put the game away when Mazur hit Mason Garcia with a 13-yard scoring pass with 3:06 left. Garcia’s first career touchdown capped an eight-play, 69-yard drive.
The Vikings added Cody Robel’s 20-yard field goal with 18 seconds remaining.
Lawrence returns to action next Saturday in the Banta Bowl when it hosts defending conference champion Monmouth College.