It isn’t often that the Lakeland University Muskies put up 48 points and star quarterback Michael Whitley is not the focus of that onslaught, but that proved to be the case on Saturday afternoon, as Dezmon Eddie rushed for 235 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Muskies 48-0 victory over Wisconsin Lutheran. The Lakeland defense was also impressive, holding the Warriors to 120 total yards of offense and 13 first downs, and five of those came via penalties. The victory moved Lakeland University to 5-2 on the season, 3-0 in the conference.
This was a contest dominated by the Muskies from the opening kickoff. Wisconsin Lutheran College received the ball first and were forced to punt after just three plays. The punt went 27 yards and was downed at the Warriors 47.
It looked like the first drive for Lakeland would stall when the first three plays yielded just two yards, but Head Coach Colin Bruton opted to go for it, and he was rewarded when Michael Whitley kept the ball and raced 15 yards for a first down. On the next play, Dezmon Eddie found and opening and made his way 27 yards to the WLC four before he was tackled. Whitley scored on the next play and Lakeland led 7-0.
The Warriors then mounted an impressive 55 yard drive that took them to the Lakeland 21 where they faced fourth and 2. As the Muskies had, Wisconsin Lutheran opted to go for it, but Jerry Stokes stuffed Isaiah Butler after a one-yard gain, turning the ball over on downs.
Back the other way the ball went, and nine plays later the Muskies were back in the end zone. It was a 23 yard gain by Eldrada Meeks on second and 4 that put the ball at the WLC 16. The Muskies moved to the seven where they were faced with fourth and 1. Once again, Lakeland opted to go for it, and this time it was Dezmen Morse getting the first down and more, racing for the end zone to make it 14-0.
After the Warriors were forced to punt on their next possession, it took just two plays for the Muskies to reach the end zone again. Starting from their own 46, Lakeland rode the legs of Eddie, as the running back gained 19 yards on his first carry, and then broke off a 35 yard run for a touchdown to extend the lead to 21.
Wisconsin Lutheran was able to mount another impressive drive, reaching the Lakeland 28. However, field goals were not going to do them any good, choosing to go for it, but Pat Mathieson’s pass fell complete.
The Muskies took the ball back the other way but they, too, were forced to turn the ball over on downs. A Whitley pass on fourth and 6 at the 16 fell incomplete giving the ball back to the Warriors.
WLC was forced to punt on their next possession, and got a fantastic kick by Tony Ciufo that was downed at the Lakeland two. This was a golden opportunity, but a pass interference call on the first play moved the ball to the 17, getting the Muskies out of trouble. On the next play, Whitley handed the ball to Eddie who burst up the middle and raced 83 yards untouched for his second touchdown of the game.
The score at half would favor Lakeland University 28-0, and it was only going to get worse for the Warriors in the second.
The second half got off to a rough start for Lakeland when Tony Orlando forced a fumble and returned it to the Lakeland 11. However, Whitley stripped the ball from Orlando and Jack Merrill recovered the ball, putting Lakeland back on offense. Once again, a fumble on the third play of the drive turned the ball back over to Wisconsin Lutheran, but they would not have it for long.
On the first play of the next drive, Nick Charles-Crowl fumbled the ball and it was recovered by McNemon Vincent. Eight plays later, the Muskies would reach the end zone to extend their lead to 34. Eddie had a 20 yard run on the drive to move to the WLC 24. Five plays later the Lakeland quarterback scored from 1 yard out to make it 34-0.
Lakeland University added two more scores in the fourth quarter. The first came when Whitley completed an 18 yard strike to Eddie on fourth down and 11 at the Wisconsin Lutheran 18 for a touchdown. That capped off a 13 play, 80 yard drive that made it 41-0.
On the next possession, the Muskies would add the final score of the game. Starting from the 44 of WLC, Larry Rivers carried the ball three times, moving it to the 26. Two plays later, Charl’Tez Nunnery burst outside and raced for the end zone for the touchdown to make it 48-0.
Lakeland University had 613 yards of total offense, including 419 on the ground. Dezmon Eddie rushed for 235 yards on just 18 carries, and scored twice. He also made four receptions for 51 yards and a score. Michael Whitley only threw 32 passes in the game, completing 20 for 194 yards and two TDs. The Lakeland defense recorded five sacks, forced two fumbles and recorded an interception. Mason Ross and Donte Rowell led the team with seven tackles each.
Next week, the Lakeland University Muskies travel to Aurora, Illinois to take on Aurora University. The Spartans are 4-3, 3-0 in the NACC.
By Robert Pannier