The Lake Forest College football team trailed by a touchdown three times in the game but still came away with a 28-21 Homecoming victory over Knox College on Saturday.
The first seven-point deficit was erased in just one play as junior quarterback Jagan Cleary connected with junior wide receiver Chase Creviston on a 56-yard touchdown pass on the Foresters' first play from scrimmage.
After the teams traded three-and-outs, the Prairie Fire regained their touchdown lead with a 9-play, 69-yard scoring drive. Knox threatened to increase the lead but missed a 23-yard field goal on its next possession and fumbled the ball away at the Forester 2-yard line on its following drive.
A punt by each team later, Lake Forest took over on its own 16 and embarked on a 9-play, 84-yard drive that ended with Cleary finding freshman wide receiver Chase Allen on the back of the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown. The score came with just 27.8 seconds left in the second quarter.
Knox possessed the ball for nearly 22 minutes in the first periods but the game was tied at 14 at halftime.
The visitors scored the only points of the third quarter at the end of a 7-play, 72-yard drive, making the score 21-14 in favor of the Prairie Fire.
Lake Forest punted twice and turned the ball over on downs once in the home team's first three possessions of the second half. The fourth, however, covered 75 yards in 10 plays and was capped off by an 18-yard touchdown pass from Cleary to junior wide receiver Chris Edomwande on the first play of the fourth quarter.
After forcing a punt, the Foresters started what turned out to be the game-winning drive. Cleary started it with a 19-yard run and senior tailback Joey Valdivia followed with a 13-yarder. The next first down came on a 16-yard reception by Edomwande on 3rd-and-9. Cleary carried the ball seven more yards and Valdivia took it into the end zone from the 1-yard line to finally give the home team the lead. Senior kicker Charles Courtney converted his fourth extra point in as many tries on the day to make the score 28-21 with 11:28 to play.
The Lake Forest defense forced another punt and the offense took more than six-and-a-half minutes off the clock before turning the ball over on downs at the Knox 6. The visitors were able to record one first down before the first career interception by Forester junior linebacker Charlie Timmerman clinched the victory.
Timmerman led the home team with a dozen tackles on the day. Sophomore linebacker Johnny Laponte was next on the Foresters with 10 tackles and four players on the team had seven. The second quarter fumble was forced by senior defensive end Tim Finucane and recovered by sophomore nose guard J.W. Windsor.
Cleary completed 20 of 32 passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns in the game. His third scoring strike of the game moved him into sole possession of second place in program history with 32 career touchdown passes. The record of 55 is held by Pete Scaffidi, who played from 2010-12.
Edomwande accounted for 10 of Cleary's completions and, with 113 receiving yards, he has now surpassed the 100-yard mark in three consecutive games.
While one 100-yard game streak continued, another was snapped as Valdivia was limited to 55. He was able to extend his streak of scoring at least one touchdown to 16 consecutive appearances and he surpassed the 1,000-yard mark on the season in just the fifth game. He needs just 20 more yards to become the program's career rushing leader.
Lake Forest is now 5-0 overall this year and, dating back to last season, the Foresters have won 10 consecutive contests, breaking the school record set 78 years ago. Knox fell to 3-2 overall and it was the first Midwest Conference game of 2017 for both teams.
The Foresters will travel to Cornell College next Saturday for a 1:00 p.m. contest.