Ripon edges Vikings 14-7

Lawrence's Will Nichols caught a 16-yard touchdown pass in the Vikings' 14-7 loss to Ripon.
Lawrence's Will Nichols caught a 16-yard touchdown pass in the Vikings' 14-7 loss to Ripon.

APPLETON, Wis. -- The Ripon College football team made a key defensive stand and then got a critical first down Saturday on its way to a 14-7 Midwest Conference North Division victory over Lawrence University on Ron Roberts Field at the Banta Bowl.

In the state's oldest college football rivalry that dates to 1893, Ripon scored a pair of touchdowns in the final 5:40 of the first half and that was enough for the victory. Lawrence got a touchdown late in the third quarter, but the Vikings were turned away in the fourth quarter and then couldn't get the ball back in the final minutes.

Lawrence quarterback D'Andre Weaver ran 12 times for 55 yards and completed 9-of-20 passes for 118 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Will Nichols and Trevor Spina caught two passes apiece for the Vikings (2-7, 1-4 MWC North), with Nichols hauling in a 16-yard touchdown pass.

Ripon quarterback Julan Patton ran 27 times for 116 yards to pace the Red Hawks (4-5, 3-2). Lawrence limited Patton to 4-of-11 passing for 39 yards.

In what was a defensive struggle, Lawrence linebacker Jake Gostisha piled up 14 tackles, and linebacker Hunter Adams added 12 stops, including a sack.

Ripon led 14-0 when the Vikings went on an impressive drive midway through the third quarter. The Vikings got the drive jump-started when Weaver connected with Spina a 37-yard pass play to the Ripon 32-yard line. After Weaver converted a fourth-and-one play with a run up the middle, he connected with Nichols for seven yards to the Ripon 16. Weaver then hit Nichols across the middle for a touchdown on the next play to trim the lead to 14-7.

Lawrence marched down the field again midway through the fourth quarter. Weaver connected with Ethan Simmons, who made a great catch at the Ripon 49 for a 26-yard gain. After Weaver ran for another first down, a pass interference penalty gave Lawrence a first down at the 21. A run by Simmons and an unsportmanslike conduct penalty on the Red Hawks gave Lawrence first and goal at the Ripon eight-yard line.

Ripon's defense stiffened and the Vikings then missed a 26-yard field goal that hit the right upright.

Ripon took over with 6:32 left and faced a third-and-10 at their own 20, but Patton scrambled for a first down to keep the drive alive. Ripon was able to get two more first downs before stalling. The Red Hawks then faked a 49-yard field goal attempt in the final minute but the pass was incomplete.

Lawrence got the ball back with just 11 seconds left and a pair of passes fell incomplete.

Lawrence wraps up its season during MWC Championship Weekend with a game at Knox College next Saturday.