By Matt Nestor
Prep Sports Reporter
Rockford Lutheran felt like they let one slip away. The Crusaders had a lead against Winnebago in the second half, only to see turnovers make the lead turn into a deficit and a loss.
They still had respect in the polls, still ranked No. 9 in the class 4A poll. But they felt like that game was not very indicative of who they are.
“We had a bad taste in our mouth after the Bago game,” Crusaders senior quarterback Kendall Lawson said. “We didn’t feel like we played like we could have. We felt like they wanted it more than us. We wanted to show we weren’t that team we were last week and we wanted to make a statement.”
Make a statement they did. Facing an Oregon team coming off a win over North Boone and that had given Stillman Valley their toughest test, Lutheran made the Hawks appear overwhelmed from the opening kickoff.
A good return set up Lutheran with good field position, and a few plays later, sophomore sensation James Robinson was punching the ball into the end zone.
That became a big theme for the night, special teams and Robinson touchdowns. The speed of the Crusaders proved to be too much for Oregon.
Robinson was at his best this night. The running back scored six touchdowns, five on the ground and one through the air, rushing for 231 yards and getting 52 receiving yards.
On top of that, Robinson also had a punt return for a touchdown called back because of holding, and did not receive the ball on the Crusaders’ final possession at the goal line.
In all, Robinson totaled well more than 300 yards when you add in return yards. It was a big bounce back game for Robinson after being held to 80 yards against Winnebago while giving up a turnover late that proved costly.
“James was disappointed about last week,” Lawson said. “He felt like he didn’t play that good. Critics were saying that maybe he was a little overrated. He didn’t like that and wanted to prove them wrong.”
Performances like this make Winnebago’s win over the Crusaders look all the more impressive. Lutheran has talent and speed all over the field. It appears at times as though they have a better chance of stopping themselves than the opponent does of stopping them.
Lutheran is trying to keep their focus. They know the Winnebago loss puts them behind the 8-ball when it comes to a Big Northern West championship. But with the Indians still having to play Stillman Valley, they know they can still have a chance. And they are going to give themselves every opportunity they can to take advantage.
“We need to keep the practice intensity level very high like we did this week,” Lawson said. “We need to not be satisfied and try to get a conference championship still.”
Posted Oct. 2, 2013