Foresters Use Last-Minute Drive to Defeat Lawrence

Photo by Andrew Taylor
Photo by Andrew Taylor

Lake Forest senior Alex Pasiewicz had a record-setting day as a kick returner and the Foresters scored the winning touchdown with 29.5 seconds remaining in a dramatic 34-27 victory over Lawrence University at home on Saturday.

After Lawrence scored the game's first touchdown with 3:16 to play in the opening quarter, Pasiewicz fielded the kickoff at the goal line and returned it 100 yards to the other end zone. He entered the contest tied for national lead with two kickoff return touchdowns on the season and his third of 2016 and fourth of his career are new program records. Pasiewicz, who finished the contest with a school record 163 kickoff return yards on three returns, also surpassed Colin Lundgren (1982-85) as the Foresters' all-time leader with 1,361 kickoff return yards in his career. In addition to his success on returns, Pasiewicz converted two fake punts in the game with runs of 27 and 13 yards.

Special teams also accounted for the Foresters' second score of the day. After the Vikings were forced to punt from their own 27-yardline early in the second quarter, Lake Forest sophomore wide receiver Chris Edomwande blocked it and recovered the ball in the end zone for his first career touchdown. Edomwande also led the home team with 49 receiving yards on three catches.

A Viking touchdown put the visitors back on top 14-13 with 5:50 to play in the first half.

After trading punts, the Foresters took over at their own 2-yardline with 3:20 to play in the quarter. Eight plays later senior tailback Joey Valdivia raced down the left side of the field and powered into the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown. Valdivia had four carries for 47 yards and added an 8-yard reception on the drive. Pasiewicz caught a pass from sophomore quarterback Jagan Cleary for a 2-point conversion, making the score 21-14 going into the lock room at halftime.

Lawrence opened the second half with a 14-play drive and trimmed the margin to four points on a 30-yard field goal.

Pasiewicz returned the ensuing kickoff 41 yards to midfield and, five plays later, Cleary hit freshman wide receiver Stanford Ellis for a 21-yard touchdown. The first career score for Ellis gave the Foresters a 27-17 lead.

A 25-yard Viking field goal early in the fourth quarter made the score 27-20 and a 17-play, 92-yard drive by the visitors ended with a game-tying touchdown and extra point with just 55.1 seconds on the clock.

The Foresters took over on their own 31 and Cleary hit Pasiewicz for a 9-yard completion on the first play. The Lake Forest quarterback appeared to be scrambling to his left for a first down on the next play when he stopped, set his feet, and launched the ball to junior wide receiver Max Sorby for a 48-yard completion. Cleary handed the ball to Valdivia on the next play and his run to the left reached the end zone for his second rushing score of the day and 21st this season.

The Lake Forest defense held on the final possession and the home team escaped with the 34-27 victory.

Valdivia finished the contest with 147 yards on 25 carries. His touchdown total on the year is easily the most in program history and his 1,219 yards on the ground are just 236 shy of the mark with two games to play. Cleary was interception-free on the day while completing 15 of 27 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown.

Senior linebacker Joe Nitti lef the home team with 10 tackles while junior safety R.J. Pompey and freshman linebacker John Laponte added nine apiece and junir defensive lineman Tim Finucane eight. Laponte had the Foresters' only sack and two of the team's five tackles for loss.

Lake Forest is now 6-2 overall this season and 4-2 in Midwest Conference play. Lawrence fell to 2-5 overall and 1-4 in the league.

The Foresters will play their final home game of the year next Saturday when the team hosts Knox College at 1:00 p.m.