The Illinois College football team scored 36 second-half points and rallied for a 54-44 Midwest Conference victory over Lawrence University on Saturday at the Banta Bowl.
The Blueboys (4-1, 3-1 MWC) scored touchdowns on its first two possessions of the second half and then turned a pair of interceptions into touchdowns to pull away from Lawrence (1-4, 1-3).
Michael Bates completed 27 of 42 passes for 309 yards, five touchdowns and one interception to pace Illinois College. Cecil Brimmage ran 18 times for 149 yards and two touchdowns for the Blueboys.
Lawrence quarterback Luke Barthelmess was 29 of 52 for 443 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions. Barthelmess also ran 21 times for 58 yards and a touchdown. Tyler Mazur caught eight passes for 126 yards and a touchdown for the Vikings, and Sam Wagner had eight catches for 94 yards and carried six times for 33 yards. Freshman receiver Dominique Dirden caught four passes for 45 yards and a career-best three touchdowns.
Lawrence jumped out to a 7-0 lead just three plays into the game. Jon Bruehl caught a 67-yard pass to set up Dirden’s eight-yard touchdown catch. The Vikings made it 13-0 when Mazur grabbed a 42-yard touchdown pass with 9:31 left in the opening quarter.
Taylor Mandich grabbed a 21-yard scoring pass for a 20-6 lead, and the Vikings made it 27-12 when Dirden caught an 18-yard touchdown pass with 2:15 left in the first half. Lawrence led 27-18 at the half.
Illinois College took the opening kickoff of the second half and went 65 yards in 10 plays to cut the lead to 27-26. Lawrence countered with a 30-yard Cody Robel field goal to increase its lead to 30-26, but the Blueboys moved 63 yards in 10 plays for a touchdown to take a 33-30 lead.
The Vikings came right back and moved 62 yards in seven plays, with Dirden catching a six-yard touchdown pass, to give Lawrence a 37-33 lead with 3:03 left in the third quarter.
Illinois College took the lead for good on Bates’ 17-yard pass to Colin Duling early in the fourth quarter for a 40-37 edge. Barthelmess was intercepted on the next drive, and Brimmage took the next play 66 yards for a touchdown and the Blueboys led 47-37.
Barthelmess was intercepted on his next pass, and the Blueboys moved 30 yards in six plays for a touchdown and a 54-37 lead. Lawrence added a touchdown on Barthelmess’ one-yard run with 4:10 left to cut the lead to 54-44 but that’s as close as the Vikings would get.
Lawrence returns to action next Saturday when it travels to Carroll University.