Vikings grab road win at Finlandia

Philip Santiago ran for two touchdowns and passed for another in Lawrence's win at Finlandia.
Philip Santiago ran for two touchdowns and passed for another in Lawrence's win at Finlandia.

HANCOCK, Mich. -- A big first half and a key special teams play Saturday led the Lawrence University football team to a 27-22 non-conference win at Finlandia University.

The Vikings jumped out to an 18-0 lead at the half, and while hanging on to a three-point lead late, downed a punt at the Finlandia one-yard line to seal the victory.

Lawrence quarterback Philip Santiago completed 9-of-21 passes for 200 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. He also ran 11 times for 58 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Wasonu Allen had eight carries for 43 yards and caught two passes for 34 yards and a score.

Finlandia quarterback De'Llontae Johnson was 11-for-22 passing for 177 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also ran 20 times for 93 yards.

Linebacker Jake Gostisha and safety Dante Reese led Lawrence with nine tackles apiece. Gostisha added 1.5 tackles for loss and Reese also had a TFL. Terrell Myers Jr., picked off his second pass of the season for Lawrence (1-1).

Lawrence's first points were set up by Allen's 34-yard punt return to the Finlandia 38. The Vikings later stalled and settled for Ryan Butterfield's 34-yard field goal early in the second quarter.

Lawrence got a short field on its next scoring drive as the Vikings took over at the Finlandia 41. The Vikings scored seven plays later on Santiago's 18-yard touchdown run, and then tacked on a two-point conversion from D'Andre Weaver for an 11-0 lead.

Myers then intercepted Johnson on the next play and returned the ball 21 yards to the Finlandia 19. The Vikings punched it into the end zone three plays later when Allen caught a 15-yard touchdown pass for an 18-0 lead with just 19 seconds left in the first half.

Finlandia (0-2) got a third-quarter touchdown, but Lawrence answered on its first drive in the fourth quarter. The Vikings moved 83 yards in 14 plays for a touchdown to push the lead to 25-7 with 8:38 left. The key play was Santiago's 24-yard completion to Ryan Butterfield on a fourth-and-eight play. That gave Lawrence a first down at the Finlandia one-yard line, and Santiago ran it in two plays later for the score.

The Lions countered with an eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to trim the lead to 25-15. After a Santiago interception gave Finlandia the ball back at the Lawrence 41, the Lions scored seven plays later to cut the lead to 25-22 with 3:17 left. 

Lawrence picked up a first down on the ensuing possession but the drive stalled at the Vikings' 42. Dan Rothbauer then boomed a 57-yard punt that was downed at the Finlandia one-yard line with 1:27 remaining.

The Lions were called for a holding penalty in the end zone on the next play and the resulting safety put Lawrence up 27-22. Rothbauer then recovered the onsides kick, and the Vikings ran out the clock for the win.

Lawrence has its bye week upcoming and returns to action on Sept. 23 against Lake Forest College in the Banta Bowl.