Crutcher, Muskies Defense Shuts Down Regents in 35-7 Victory
The Lakeland University defense held Rockford University to 297 total yards of offense in a 35-7 victory for the Muskies on Saturday. Shazon Crutcher led the way with 14 tackles and the Lakeland defense came up with two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Charl’Tez Nunnery had a big day for the Muskies, throwing for 179 yards and rushing for 111 more. He accounted for four total touchdowns in the game.
Lakeland took the opening kickoff and marched 65 yards on nine plays to take a 7-0 lead. The drive did not start out well when Nunnery was sacked and his pass attempt fell incomplete on the first two plays of the game. On third and 14, Brice Kensey grabbed a 21-yard completion before going out of bounds to give the Muskies a fresh set of downs. A pass interference call on third and six moved the ball to the Rockford 18 where Nunnery found Kensey once again, this time for 15 yards down to the three. On the next play, the Lakeland quarterback found Kensey again, this time for the 3-yard touchdown to put the Muskies on top.
On their third possession of the game, the Regents tied the score. The Johnson duo, Emani and LaVar, led the way. LaVar carried the ball eight times while Emani added four. Faced with a fourth and goal at the two, the team opted to go for it and Emani Johnson came through, scoring to knot the game at seven.
Just before the half, the Muskies retook the lead. Starting from the Rockford 44, Nunnery completed three straight passes, with the third going for 20 yards to Mason Prunick for the touchdown to put Lakeland back on top, 14-7.
Coming out of the half, the Muskies dominated play. On their first possession following the break, Lakeland moved 64 yards on eight plays to take a 21-7 lead. The drive looked like it would stall early on when the team was faced with fourth and 1 at their own 45, but the coaching staff opted to go for it, allowing their star quarterback to keep the ball and make a play, which he did, rushing for 4 yards. Two plays later, Larry Rivers burst through the line and race 34 yards down to the Regents 11-yard line. That is where Nunnery kept the ball, heading for the end zone for a touchdown put his team on top by 14.
Rockford was forced to punt on their next possession. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty moved the ball to the Regents 33-yard line, where it took Nunnery just one play to reach the end zone again. His touchdown toss to Jaylen Rido extended the lead to 21.
Rockford looked to respond, moving 80 yards in 13 plays down to the 2-yard line of Lakeland. There they were faced with a fourth and goal, opting to go for it down by 21. Jaelen Ray kept the ball, but Crutcher stood him up, turning over the ball on downs.
That led to an impressive 11 play, 98-yard drive that resulted in the fourth straight touchdown for the Muskies. Nunnery got the team out of trouble right away with a 13-yard carry to the 15. The quarterback was a little shaken on the play, but Lane Sobieski kept the drive alive, completing a 12-yard pass to Kensey for another first down. Three plays later, the team was faced with fourth and 4 at their own 34, but the coaching staff opted to go for it once again. Nunnery returned, carrying the ball 9 yards for another first down. Three plays later, the team was faced with third and 14. Nunnery delivered as he had so often in this game, hitting Rido for a 41-yard completion down to the Rockford 21. After a false start penalty, Rivers raced 26 yards for a touchdown to make it 35-7. That would be the final.
Nunnery finished 14 of 26 for 179 yards and three touchdowns. He had 11 carries for 111 yards and another score. Rivers carried the ball 12 times for 85 yards and a touchdown. Kensey was the leading receiver with nine catches for 86 yards and a score. Rido only had three catches in the game, but made the most of them, gaining 80 yards and a TD. Lakeland did not turn the ball over in the game.
Crutcher made 14 tackles and Ezekiel Combs added 11. Jayson Wilder and Max Ramminger each had an interception.
Ray completed 14 of 26 passes for 151 yards for Rockford. LaVar Johnson carried the ball 26 times for 95 yards. Emani Johnson had 12 carries for 40 yards and a touchdown. The defense was led by Jallen Bashford with 13 tackles.
The Muskies (2-0) look to remain undefeated when they travel to take on Wisconsin Lutheran College (1-1) next Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00
Listen to the latest edition of Muskies Matters with Head Coach Colin Bruton.
By Robert Pannier