The Lawrence University football team missed a 27-yard field goal as time expired, and Cornell College hung on for a 41-39 Midwest Conference victory over the Vikings on Saturday in the Banta Bowl.
Cornell, in its return to the Midwest Conference after 15 years playing in the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, grabbed the lead with a 56-yard touchdown pass from Juan Flores to Brennan Stine with 1:47 remaining. The Rams (1-0, 1-0 MWC) mishandled the snap on the extra point and led by two.
Lawrence (0-1, 0-1) drove right back down the field as clock ticked toward the final seconds. Quarterback Luke Barthelmess ran for 15 yards and then for another nine before hitting Tyler Mazur for 12 yards to the Cornell 41-yard line.
After Taylor Mandich grabbed a nine-yard completion, Barthelmess scrambled for 22 yards to the Cornell 10 with just 12 seconds left. Barthelmess then missed an open Mazur in the corner of the end zone with six seconds remaining. Kicker Cody Robel, who has hit from as far as 40 yards in his career, hooked the field goal attempt wide left on the final play.
The loss overshadowed a fine effort from the Lawrence offense, which piled up 539 yards on 96 plays. Barthelmess was 26 of 43 passing for 267 yards and three touchdowns. Barthelmess also ran 16 times for 132 yards and a score. He is the first Viking to run for more than 100 yards since Craig Ebert did it against Minnesota-Morris on Nov. 15, 2008.
Lawrence piled up 272 yards on the ground, with Ben Hartman picking up 86 yards on 21 carries and Scott Vandeloo added 43 yards on 11 attempts.
Wide receiver Dominique Dirden caught a career-high eight passes for a career-best 88 yards. Mazur finished with five catches for 70 yards and a touchdown.
Lawrence jumped on the Rams early by going 53 yards in nine plays on the opening drive of the game. Hartman’s one-yard touchdown run finished the drive. Lawrence went for two but Mazur came up inches short on the running attempt.
The Vikings went up 12-0 after going 72 yards in 13 plays for a touchdown. Barthelmess ran it in from six yards out, but the Vikings missed the extra point.
The teams then traded touchdowns throughout the second quarter, and Lawrence led 25-14 when it took over with 3:42 left in the first half. The Vikings drove to the Cornell 2-yard line but couldn’t punch it in. Barthelmess’ fourth-down pass to Dirden was incomplete, and the Vikings settled for a 25-14 lead at the half.
Cornell got the only score of the third quarter and then took a 28-25 lead on Flores’ 11-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. Lawrence came right back and scored on its next drive. The Vikings went 75 yards in 11 plays, with Vandeloo scoring his first collegiate touchdown on a five-yard pass from Barthlemess, to lead 32-28.
The Rams scored just four plays later, but Lawrence took advantage of a big kick return from Hartman to set up its next touchdown. Hartman returned the kickoff 39 yards and a personal foul penalty was tacked on to give Lawrence the ball at the Cornell 35. The Vikings scored eight plays later on Hartman’s three-yard run to go up 39-35.
Flores paced Cornell by completing 17 of 25 passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns. Geoffrey Miller led the Rams defense by recording 22 tackles.