Foresters Score Dramatic Victory over Ripon

Photo by Riley Frisbie
Photo by Riley Frisbie

Freshman A.J. Jackson scored touchdowns three different ways, including on a 28-yard reception with 19.7 seconds remaining in Lake Forest's 34-27 victory over visiting Ripon College.

In addition to the game-winning score late in the contest, Jackson returned a punt 63 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter and reached the end zone on an 85-yard kickoff return in the second. He finished the afternoon with six receptions for 118 yards, three kickoff returns for 123 yards, four punt returns for 112 yards, and a 6-yard run. His 359 all-purpose yards are the most by a Forester this century and he surpassed 1,000 all-purpose yards in just the fifth game of his career.

Ripon took an early 7-0 lead, traveling 75 yards in 11 plays on the game's first possession. Jackson returned the ensuing kickoff 27 yards to the Lake Forest 37 and caught a 38-yard pass on the home team's first play from scrimmage. The drive ended with an 11-yard touchdown pass from senior Bill Degnan to junior H-back Michael Dean, who reached the end zone for the first time in his career.

After Jackson's punt return gave the Foresters the lead, they added to it on a 28-yard field goal by senior Michael Bounds.

Ripon responded with back-to-back touchdown drives and led 20-17 after the second extra point was blocked by senior Jordan McInerney. Jackson returned the kickoff for a touchdown, giving Lake Forest a 24-20 lead at the half.

After combining for 44 points in the game's first 30 minutes, Ripon and Lake Forest were kept off the scoreboard for the next 21. Bounds ended the drought with a career-long 43-yard field goal, making the score 27-20.

Neither team scored on its next possession and visitors took over on their own 29 with 2:04 remaining, out of timeouts and trailing by seven. They tied the score just four plays and 42 seconds later, leaving the Foresters with a minute and 22 seconds to post a game-winning score.

Degnan started the final drive with completions of 18, 14, and 9 yards. After losing a yard on a sack, he converted on third down with a 6-yard completion to Jackson, who was tackled at the Red Hawk 28. Degnan spotted Jackson open down the middle of the field on the next play and hit him for the go-ahead touchdown.

McInerney sacked the Ripon quarterback on the Red Hawks' next play from scrimmage and the clock expired before they could run another play.

Degnan finished the game with 12 completions for 208 yards and ran for another 10 on four carries. Sophomore Stone Matthews rushed for a team-high 42 yards while junior Alex Adams added 38.

The Lake Forest defense was led by sophomore safety Anthony Rieck's nine tackles. Four different Foresters made seven stops and junior cornerback Jordan Briggs added five, including three of their nine tackles for loss.

Bounds continued to excel as a punter, averaging 43.0 yards on five attempts with three ending up inside the 20-yardline.

The victory raised Lake Forest's overall record to 5-1 and Midwest Conference North Division mark to 2-0. Ripon fell to 1-5 overall and 0-2 in the division.

The Foresters will play their next two games on the road, beginning with next Saturday's contest at Beloit College. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.

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