MILWAUKEE - Aurora's attempt at a game-tying drive was stopped short at the Wisconsin Lutheran College football team's 35 yard line as the Warriors hung on to defeat the Spartans 21-13 Saturday on Homecoming at Raabe Stadium. WLC (2-4, 2-1 NACC) has won seven consecutive Homecoming games and seven straight NACC home games.
The Spartans (1-5, 0-2 NACC) last-gasp effort started with the ball on their own 34 with 36 seconds left. Quarterback Jace Koerner completed passes of 19 and 12 yards to move Aurora to the Warriors' 35. Koerner was pressured on the final play and his desperation heave as time expired was knocked down by Josh Reznack (Hales Corner, Wis./Pius XI) to seal WLC's second straight win.
The Warriors grabbed the early lead in the first quarter on their second possession of the game. A 21-yard run by Donavin Tucker (Brookfield, Wis./East) pushed the ball into Spartans territory and an 18-yard pass from Drew Dyrssen (Vista, Calif./California Lutheran) to Eli Campbell (Clermont, Fla./East Ridge) moved the Warriors down to the one yard line. Tucker punched it in from there to give WLC a 7-0 lead with 8:44 left in the first.
The teams exchanged punts on the next two drives before Aurora got on the board in the final minute of the quarter. Koerner's 41-yard completion to Lorenzo Williams gave the Spartans 1st-and-Goal on the Warriors' four. Tanner Behnke (Brillion, Wis./Brillion) sacked Koerner for a 10-yard loss on the next play, helping WLC hold the Spartans to a 32-yard field goal by Fernando Albarran to cut the Warriors lead to 7-3.
A big play gave Aurora the lead early in the second quarter. On the first play after a Warriors punt, Koerner gunned a 44-yard touchdown strike to Camerhon Guyton to put the Spartans in front 10-7 with 11:40 to go in the half.
Koerner connected with Williams again on Aurora's next drive, this time for 55 yards to put the Spartans back on the Warriors' four. The Warriors goal line defense responded again, limiting Aurora to a 22-yard field goal to make it 13-7.
On the next possession, the Wisconsin Lutheran used a big play of its own to take the lead for good. Dyrssen hit Mitch Skarban (Appleton, Wis./Fox Valley Lutheran) on a 49-yard touchdown pass to give WLC a 14-13 lead with 4:14 remaining in the first half. The score remained the same at halftime.
The lone score of the second half came with 2:02 left in the third quarter, when Mike Reeves (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Hoffman Estates) burst through the Spartans defense for a 37-yard touchdown run - his sixth rushing touchdown of the year - to give the Warriors a 21-13 edge.
The Warriors intercepted Koerner four times, including three in the second half as they shutout Aurora in the final half. They also got to Koerner in the backfield for six sacks. The defense was led by terrific efforts from Jestin Heimbruch (Manawa, Wis./Little Wolf), who recorded 10 tackles, Sam Dunham (Winneconne, Wis./Winneconne) with nine tackles, a tackle for a loss, and an interception, and Behnke with eight tackles, 1.5 sacks and 1.5 tackles for loss. Luke Sebald (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Wisconsin Lutheran) piled up 2.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss.
Offensively, WLC benefitted from an outstanding rushing attack with 242 yards on the ground. Tucker racked up 88 yards, Reeves finished with 76 yards and Dyrssen ran for 48 yards. Dyrssen was 10-for-24 passing for 117 yards and a score. Skarban made three grabs for 70 yards and a touchdown.
WLC hits the road for a NACC game next Saturday at Benedictine (4-2, 2-1 NACC) at 1 p.m.