Foresters Hold Off Ripon, Close Out 2014 with a Win

Photo by Matt Weidner
Photo by Matt Weidner

The Lake Forest College football team led 20-3 at halftime and held on for a 26-23 victory over visiting Ripon College in the season finale for both teams. Forester sophomore tailback Charlie Quinn rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown on the day.

Quinn's 13-yard score with 2:53 to play in the first half gave the Foresters a 20-3 lead. It was the longest of his 29 carries on the day. Quinn finished the season with 733 rushing yards, six touchdowns, and a 5.0 yards-per-carry average.

The Foresters' special teams contributed to their previous two touchdowns. A week after being named Midwest Conference Special Teams Performer of the Week for scoring a touchdown off a blocked punt, junior Anthoney Prestly did the blocking of Ripon's first punt of the game. Sophomore Nana Yaw Larbi-Tieku recovered it at the Ripon 23-yardline and, six plays later, junior quarterback Peter Rantis connected with freshman wide receiver Max Sorby on a 4-yard touchdown pass.

After the Red Hawks capped off a 10-play, 63-yard drive with a field goal, sophomore Alex Pasiewicz returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown, making the score 13-3. It was the team's first kickoff return for a touchdown since 2001. The Foresters averaged 22.0 yards per return this season, the second-highest average in program history.

A long touchdown drive and an interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter by Ripon cut the Forester lead to 20-17.

A 29-yard field goal by Lake Forest junior Jon Gurchak late in the third quarter extended the Forester lead and a 32-yarder by Gurchak with 7:42 to play made the score 26-17 with 7:42 remaining in the contest. Gurchak's six field goals this season tied the second-highest total in program history and his 14 career field goals are also tied for second in team annals.

Ripon scored the game's final points on a touchdown with 3:37 to play.

Quinn ran for a pair of first downs on the next possession as the Foresters ran out the clock.

Adding to Lake Forest's accomplishments on special teams on Saturday was a pair of milestones for senior Joey Kropp. He had 14 punt return yards on the day, giving him a school record 557 in his career. He also returned the final kickoff of the game 22 yards to surpass 1,000 kickoff return yards in his career.

Senior linebackers Jake Julius and John Preston led the Lake Forest defense with 13 and 12 tackles, respectively. Preston finished his four seasons ranked seventh in program history with 277 career tackles. Freshman cornerback Mitch Coha accounted for the Foresters' only turnover of the game on his first career interception.

The game was part of MWC Championship Weekend, during which each of the six teams in the South Division host the team in the same place in the North Division standings. Lake Forest and Ripon placed fourth in their respective divisions with 2-3 league records. The Foresters finished the season 4-6 and the Red Hawks 3-7.