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College football: Finlandia ready to take on Ripon College

HANCOCK — Finlandia University’s football team will seek a fresh start when it hosts Ripon College Saturday in its home opener.

The Lions dropped a 37-7 game last week to Concordia (Wisconsin) last week to open the campaign.

Despite the final score, the Lions trailed by only a 3-0 score deep into the second quarter. But an intercepted pass turned into a quick touchdown and Concordia moved way afterward.

“We started out pretty well last week,” Lions’ coach Travis Wiltzius said. “The defense was playing good football before the pick six.”

Ripon, a college of about 700 students, lost 36-26 to Augsburg College last week.

Kickoff is 1 p.m. at McAfee Field and Wiltzius is hoping for a good crowd.

“We’d like to get a lot of people out there,” he said “It would definitely help the team a lot.”

Wiltzius said the Redhawks run a triple-option offense and prefer to keep the ball on the ground.

“We’re going to have to stop that option first,” Wiltzius said. “They don’t go to the pass until you can stop it.”

Taylor Bonetti, a junior linebacker and Dave Carlson will be key defenders for Finlandia.

Bonetti recorded eight tackles — three for a loss — in playing a strong game in the opener. Carlson, a freshman linebacker, had a game-high nine tackles.

New Lions’ quarterback Darin Johnson made 10 of 15 passes for 84 yards and also rushed for 34 yards and a TD.

Junior flanker Ken Kujawa grabbed 6 passes for 64 yards last week. Freshman tail back Tate Kay is another key for the locals.

“We need to step up on offense and keep Ripon on the sidelines,” Wiltzius said.

The Redhawks depend on quarterback Cormac Madigan and tailback Aaron Landry for offense.

Madigan passed for a pair of scores versus Augsburg, while Landy also tallied twice.

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