LISLE, Ill. - A 20-0 halftime lead for the Wisconsin Lutheran College football team slipped away as Benedictine came back to force overtime and stun the Warriors 34-28 Saturday at the Sports Complex. It was the second overtime loss of the season for the Warriors (2-5, 2-2 NACC), who had not played an overtime game in school history entering this year.
With the score tied at 28, the Warriors deferred to the Benedictine (5-2, 3-1 NACC) offense to begin overtime. On the second play of the extra period, BenU quarterback Cyle Schultz found Blake Anders for 23 yards to the Warriors two. Schultz snuck it in from there for the decisive touchdown, but a missed extra point gave WLC a chance to win it on the next possession.
The Warriors fed running back Mike Reeves (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Hoffman Estates) for five straight carries to begin the possession and he picked up 19 yards. On 4th-and-3 at the Eagles' six, Drew Dyrssen's (Vista, Calif./California Lutheran) throw for Mitch Skarban (Appleton, Wis./Fox Valley Lutheran) was in and out of the receivers' hands as the Eagles escaped with the victory.
The Warriors moved 56 yards on nine plays on their second possession of the game, scoring on a 26-yard touchdown carry by Reeves with 7:33 remaining in the first quarter. The extra point missed to keep the score 6-0.
The teams turned the ball over on downs the next three possessions before the Warriors struck again in the second quarter. A 20-yard run by Reeves gave WLC 1st-and-Goal at the Eagles 10. On 3rd-and-Goal from the eight, Dyrssen hit Eli Campbell (Clermont, Fla./East Ridge) in the end zone to make it 13-0 with 5:38 to go in the half.
The Eagles went three-and-out on the next possession, then Dyrssen completed seven of nine passes for 66 yards on the next drive, capped by a seven-yard touchdown pass to Teontae Morgan (Cudahy, Wis./Cudahy) to give the Warriors a commanding 20-0 lead with seven seconds remaining in the half.
Special teams issues plagued the Warriors in the third quarter. The WLC defense held BenU to start the quarter, but the ensuing punt was fumbled and recovered by the Eagles at the Warriors' 43. Benedictine capitalized on the turnover as Artie Monaco's one-yard touchdown run cut the lead to 20-7.
The Warriors went three-and-out on the next possession, and Matt Grams' (Milwaukee, Wis./Pius XI) punt from his own 21 was blocked by Trevor Walzak and recovered by Alex Bretous, who took it in for a touchdown to pull the Eagles to within 20-14 with 9:29 left in the third. The teams exchanged punts the remainder of the quarter and the score would remain the same entering the fourth.
A defensive touchdown gave the Eagles the lead early in the fourth. Warriors quarterback Anthony Rodriguez (Kissimmee, Fla./Gateway) fumbled deep in his own territory, and BenU's Joe Dickert recovered it in the end zone to push Benedictine ahead 21-20.
WLC answered right away as a 37-yard kick return by Donavin Tucker (Brookfield, Wis/East) put the Warriors at the Eagles' 48. Dyrssen connected with Campbell for 30 yards to make it 1st-and-Goal. After a penalty on the Warriors on the next play, Reeves rumbled into the end zone from 12 yards out for a touchdown, his eighth rushing score of the season. The Warriors converted the two-point conversion on Dyrssen's pass to Skarban to take a 28-21 lead with 11:20 remaining in regulation.
Each team went three-and-out on its next possession before the Eagles used a big play to tie the game. Schultz connected with Anders for a 75-yard touchdown pass to tie it at 28 with 8:08 left.
The Warriors had an opportunity to take the lead on their final drive of regulation. Reeves picked up 20 yards on the ground to help WLC reach the BenU 22. On 1st-and-10, Dyrssen's pass was picked off by Jarrett Lecas to end the threat.
Dyrssen finished 24-for-41 with 260 passing yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Reeves piled up 151 yards on 26 carries with two scores. Skarban led the Warriors with 79 yards on six catches and Campbell made five grabs for 65 yards and a touchdown. Jestin Heimbruch (Manawa, Wis./Little Wolf) led the Warriors defense with 11 tackles, three tackles for a loss, a sack, and a pass breakup.
Schultz was 19-for-35 for 274 yards and a touchdown. Anders caught six passes for 215 yards and a touchdown. Dylan Rose led all defenders with 17 tackles, including three for a loss.
Wisconsin Lutheran outgained Benedictine 452-282 yards and held the Eagles to just eight rushing yards. WLC controlled possession, holding the ball for 37 minutes and picking up 23 first downs to 12 for BenU. The Warriors were 10-for-20 on third down conversions.
WLC hosts a non-conference game against Maranatha (1-6) next Saturday at 1 p.m. at Raabe Stadium.