Foresters Hold Off Wisconsin Lutheran in Season Opener

Photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com
Photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com

Senior quarterback Jagan Cleary became the program's career leader in passing yards during the Lake Forest College football team's 38-30 triumph over visiting Wisconsin Lutheran College in the season opener for both teams on Saturday.

Cleary surpassed the mark previously held by Don Lackey, who threw for 5,556 yards from 2001 to 2003. The record-breaking throw came in the second quarter and Cleary finished the day with 296 passing yards, giving him 5,703 in his career. He also tossed a pair of touchdown passes and now has 50 in his career, five shy of the team record set by Pete Scaffidi in 2012.

Both of Cleary's touchdown passes went to sophomore wide receiver John Rall, who had five catches for 72 yards in his first career start. Senior wideout Chris Edomwande also had five receptions for a team-high 85 yards while sophomore Chase Allen finished with eight grabs covering 61 yards.

The Forester offense was also successful on the ground with sophomore tailback Alex Adams rushing for a game-high 106 yards and a score on 22 carries. Cleary also scrambled for a 3-yard touchdown run in the first quarter to make the score 7-7.

The home team took the lead on a 5-yard pass from Cleary to Rall early in the second quarter and made the score 21-7 later in the period on a 45-yard interception return by junior safety Taylor Freitas. It was the first career interception for Freitas and the Warriors' only turnover of the contest.

Wisconsin Lutheran closed to within a score on a touchdown with just four seconds remaining in the quarter and, after forcing a fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half, tied the game on the next play.

Junior kicker/punter Michael Bounds connected on a 32-yard field goal, the first of his career, to put the Foresters back on top with 10:11 to play in the third. The visitors responded with their fourth and final touchdown of the afternoon to make the score 27-24. Adams darted into the end zone from two yards out with 13 seconds on the clock and Lake Forest entered the fourth quarter leading 31-27.

Cleary connected with Rall for another score with 12:40 remaining in the game and Wisconsin Lutheran closed out the scoring with a field goal with 5:23 left. Rushing attempts by Adams and sophomore H-Back Michael Dean went for first downs and Cleary connected with Allen for 18 yards on 4th-and-8 on the final drive as the Forester offense ran out the clock.

Junior linebacker Johhny Laponte was the home team's leader in tackles on the day with nine, including a sack. Junior safety Blake Becker added seven stops and sophomore linebacker Michael Salazar six.

Saturday's contest was the first of the Foresters' three home games to start the 2018 season. The team will host North Central College, the seventh-ranked team in the nation, next Saturday at 1:00 p.m.