Comeback Bid Falls Short At Olivet

Photo Credit: Larry Radloff, d3photography.com
Photo Credit: Larry Radloff, d3photography.com

OLIVET, Mich. - A potential game-winning drive by the Wisconsin Lutheran College football team stalled in the final seconds at the Olivet 16-yard line as the Comets held on to defeat the Warriors 14-10 Saturday at Cutler Field. WLC dropped to 0-2 on the season while Olivet improved to 2-0.

The Warriors started with the ball at their own 35 with 2:27 left in the fourth quarter, trailing 14-10. Senior quarterback Drew Dyrssen (Vista, Calif./California Lutheran) marched the Warriors into Comets territory as he threw for 59 yards on the drive.

A 24-yard pass play to senior Matt Gordy (Macomb, Ill./Macomb) put Wisconsin Lutheran at the Olivet 16. The Warriors reached the 10-yard line before Dyrssen was sacked on third down back to the 16. Dyrssen's pass for freshman Eli Campbell (Clermont, Fla./East Ridge) was deflected in the end zone on fourth down, turning the ball over with 18 seconds left and allowing Olivet to run the clock out.

WLC suffered two fumbles early in the game. Junior Mike Reeves (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Hoffman Estates) fumbled on the opening play from scrimmage, but the Comets could not capitalize. On its next possession, Wisconsin Lutheran had first and goal at the Comets six, but senior Donavin Tucker (Brookfield, Wis./East) fumbled on second down to turn the ball over. 

Olivet took over and drove down to the Warriors' six-yard line, where they opted to go for it on fourth down. Quarterback Braden Black was stuffed for no gain and WLC took over on downs early in the second quarter.

On the ensuing play, Dyrssen connected with Reeves for a 94-yard touchdown pass to put the Warriors in front 7-0 with 12:39 left in the half. It was the longest play from scrimmage in school history, surpassing an 88-yard touchdown run by Reeves September 1, 2012 at Ripon.

The Comets tied the game with a long play of their own, a 53-yard touchdown pass from Black to Jason Barbosa with 5:59 to go in the second quarter. 

The Warriors took the ball and again pushed their way deep into Comets territory. WLC had first and goal at the one but was held to a 20-yard field goal by sophomore Matt Grams (Milwaukee, Wis./Pius XI) that gave the Warriors a 10-7 lead with 15 seconds left in the opening half.

The two teams exchanged the football on punts or on downs on the first four possessions of the third quarter. Olivet broke through for the eventual game-winning score late in the quarter. Black hit Dan Hugan for a 48-yard touchdown with 1:10 to go in the third quarter to give the Comets a 14-10 lead.

Wisconsin Lutheran was forced to punt on three of its final five possessions, and lost the ball on downs on the other two.

The Warriors fell despite outgaining the Comets 409-337. WLC also picked up 19 first downs while allowing 14.

Dyrssen finished 22-for-41 with 321 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions. Reeves rushed 16 times for 46 yards and Tucker gained 41 yards on nine carries. Gordy had three catches for 69 yards and sophomore Mitch Skarban (Appleton, Wis./Fox Valley Lutheran) totaled 48 yards on five catches. 

Sophomore Brady Detert (Marion, Wis./Marion) led the WLC defense with eight tackles and junior Jestin Heimbruch (Manawa, Wis./Little Wolf) had three tackles for loss and a sack. Senior Cody Thurber (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) forced the lone Comets turnover on an interception.

Black threw for 232 yards and two touchdowns for Olivet. Hugan was the leading receiver with seven catches for 115 yards and a score. Nate Roberts made 13 tackles and had two and a half tackles for loss for the Comets.

WLC (0-2) continues non-conference play next Saturday with a 12 p.m. game at Hope (2-0).