RIPON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Lutheran College football team shutout non-conference opponent Ripon 31-0 Saturday afternoon in the season opener for both teams at Ingalls Field. The win extends WLC's streak to a school record five games.
The season-opening win was the first for WLC since the 2002 season as the Warriors avenged season-opening defeats against Ripon each of the past two seasons.
The game started out well for the Warriors as the defense forced Ripon to punt after five plays giving WLC the ball in Red Hawks territory. The Warriors offense capitalized to find the end zone on their first possession of the season. Senior quarterback Zach Shaw (Gurnee, Ill./Warren Township) capped off the nine-play, 47-yard scoring drive with a one-yard dive. After exchanging possessions, the Warriors defense forced another Ripon punt that netted eight yards after a 15-yard personal foul penalty on the hosts.
The Warriors were able to add onto their 7-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter when Taylor Pelot (Fond du Lac, Wis./Campbellsport) weaved his way through the defense for a 13-yard touchdown run. Following the kickoff, the Red Hawks started on their own 25-yard line. RC drove the ball deep into Warriors territory on a 19-play, 64-yard drive that took 9:46 off the clock. However, the long possession would end on an interception by senior linebacker Jim Wheeler (Crystal Falls, Mich./Forest Park). Wheeler returned the ball to the WLC 11-yard line as he weaved his way across the field picking up several blocks along the way. Wisconsin Lutheran, however, had to settle for a 29-yard field goal by freshman Josh Ruppel (Cedar Grove, Wis./Cedar Grove-Belgium) for a 17-0 advantage at halftime.
The Warriors found the end zone twice in the third quarter. The first coming on a third-and-goal play when Shaw found senior wide receiver Josh Stadola (Denmark, Wis./Denmark) on a 10-yard strike in the corner of the end zone with 7:09 left in the third quarter. Following the kickoff, the Warriors defense forced its third three-and-out of the game and sophomore Mike Reeves (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Hoffman Estates) broke free down the right side of the field for an 88-yard touchdown scamper to cap the scoring with 5:54 left.
Shaw finished 14-of-25 through the air for 165 yards with one touchdown and an interception. Reeves finished with 121 yards on 10 rushes, while Pelot rushed 12 times for 51 yards to lead the ground attack.
Defensively, Wheeler collected eight tackles to go along with the interception. Senior Tyler Schoen (Marion, Wis,/Marion) had a game-high nine tackles. Freshman Brady Detert (Marion, Wis./Marion) added seven tackles, including one for a loss, a forced fumble and a half sack.
WLC held the Red Hawks triple option offense to just 229 total yards, while the Warriors gained 370 yards of total offense.
Wisconsin Lutheran (1-0) hosts Olivet (0-1) next Saturday for its home opener. Kickoff at Raabe Stadium is scheduled for 1 p.m. The Comets were defeated 41-0 by Robert Morris (Ill.) in their season opener Saturday.