Ground game, defense propel Vikings to shutout win over Grinnell

Lawrence football action Wasonu Allen
Lawrence's Wasonu Allen ran for 121 yards and a touchdown in the win over Grinnell.

GRINNELL, Iowa -- The Lawrence University football team's rushing attack and stifling defense led the Vikings to a 28-0 nonconference season opening win over Grinnell College on Saturday at Rosenbloom Field.

Lawrence piled up 336 yards on the ground, including a 100-yard rushing day by senior running back Wasonu Allen, and the Vikings finished with 456 yards on the afternoon. The Vikings limited Grinnell to just 208 yards and forced a pair of turnovers.

Allen carried 11 times for 121 yards and a touchdown to lead the Vikings. Lawrence quarterback D'Andre Weaver ran 12 times for 74 yards and completed 7-of-16 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown.

Safety Jaxon Stratton paced the Lawrence defenders with 13 tackles and an interception. 

This was Lawrence's first shutout in a season opener since the Vikings routed Northwestern (Wis.) 33-0 in 1983. It also marked the first shuotut in the series since the Vikings downed Grinnell 48-0 in 1981.

Lawrence got on the board on its second play from scrimmage. Allen ripped off a 47-yard touchdown run, and the Vikings led 7-0 with 12:55 left in the opening quarter.

The teams traded punts until late in the second quarter when Grinnell drove deep into Lawrence territory. Defensive end Jasaad Graves forced and recovered a Daniel Carter fumble at the Lawrence 12-yard line to snuff out that scoring threat.

The Vikings took that 7-0 lead into halftime but scored on the opening possession of the third quarter. Tanner Morris' 25-yard kickoff return gave Lawrence the ball at its own 48, and four running plays moved the ball to the Grinnell 29. Weaver then hit Nick Pastrone with a 29-yard scoring pass, and Lawrence led 14-0 with 11:54 left in the third.

The final play of the third quarter saw Weaver connect with Ethan Simmons on a 22-yard pass to start a drive, and Lawrence had a first down at its own 46. After a sack, fullback Caleb Catt hauled in a 31-yard pass to the Grinnell 30. Weaver ran for nine yards on the next play, and Prince Mukuna went 20 yards on the following play to put the ball at the Grinnell one-yard line. Mukuna plunged in on the next play for a 21-0 lead.

Grinnell had one final scoring chance but Stratton picked off Matt Siff at the Lawrence two-yard line to stop the drive. 

Lawrence then went on a 12-play, 95-yard drive for the game's final score. The key play was a 46-yard romp by Allen to put the ball at the Grinnell 18. Peter Bukszar scored five plays later on a four-yard run for a 28-0 lead.

The Vikings host Carleton College in their home opener next Saturday.