When you see a team put up sixty points, a lot of focus is going to be on the offense, and deservedly so, but it was the defense for Lakeland University that really stole the show on Saturday afternoon. Thanks to two interceptions and a fumble recovery by senior Donte Rowell, the Muskies allowed just 14 second half points as the team opened up the North Athletics Collegiate Conference with a 60-14 victory over the Concordia University-Wisconsin Falcons.
The Muskies jumped out to a 19-point lead coming out of the first quarter. Concordia took the opening kickoff and moved to the Lakeland 38 in nine-plays, but they were forced to punt. The punt sailed into the end zone, giving the Muskies the ball at their own 20.
From there, it was the Michael Whitley show. The Lakeland quarterback completed the first four passes he threw, moving the ball to Concordia 41. Eldrada Meeks then burst up the gut for 16-yards to the Falcons 25. Whitley then found Jody Harrison for a 20-yard completion to the Concordia five. On the next play, Whitley kept the ball and reached the end zone to make it 6-0. The seven-play drive took just 1:48 off the clock.
The Falcons were forced to punt on their next possession but Lakeland would turn the ball over on downs at the CUW 26. Three plays later, the offense would have the ball right back. Dalton Poole went back to pass looking for a receiver over the middle, but Donte Rowell made a great play to pick off the pass and raced 50-yards for the touchdown to make it 12-0.
The Muskies rolled the dice on the kickoff, opting to go for the onside kick and they would wind up with the ball at the Concordia nine. On the next play, Eddie Dezmon scored to make it 19-0. In the span of less than a minute, Lakeland had scored 13-points and taken complete command of the game.
In the second quarter, the Muskies extended their lead. After a 47-yard punt downed the ball at the Lakeland five, the team went on an impressive 12-play, 95-yard drive. It was Meeks that got the drive moving along. On the second play of the drive, faced with a second and 8, the running back gained 14-yards. He would add runs of 10 and 7 yards as well. With the ball at the Lakeland 48 it was Whitley’s turn to take command. The QB completed a 25-yard pass to Dezmon Eddie before finding Dezmen Morse for 14-yards. With the ball at the CUW six, Whitley completed a pass to Allante Gardner for the touchdown to make it 26-0.
On the next possession for the Falcons, Rowell would come up big again. With the ball at the Concordia 48, Poole kept the ball and raced for 14-yards and a first down, however, Rowell made a huge hit to dislodge the ball, then recovered it at his own 38.
That opened the opportunity for another huge drive as the Muskies moved 62-yards in 13-plays. It was Meeks and Eddie who got the drive started with a combined total of four carries for 23-yards. On the 13th play of the drive, Whitley passed to Jamal Hawkins-Sconiers for three-yards and a touchdown to extend the lead to 32.
The Muskies took the second half kickoff and moved 65-yards in just 6-plays to make it 39-0. Meeks had two carries on the first four plays, helping to move the ball to the CUW 45. On the fifth play, Meeks broke outside and raced 45-yards for the touchdown.
Lakeland would score on their next possession as well. It was the long drive that was absolutely crushing the Concordia’s defense, and this would be the case here as well. The 12-play drive took 6:42 off the clock before Whitley would find Gardner for the second touchdown of the game for the receiver. That made it 46-0.
On the next possession for the Falcons they would finally score. Four plays into the drive, Poole completed a pass to Ryan Wagner who raced for the end zone and scored. The 52-yard touchdown made it 46-7.
Concordia went for the onside kick and they would recover the ball. CUW moved to the Lakeland 22, but on fourth and 6, the Poole pass was knocked down by Diante Moses and the ball was turned over on downs.
On the next play, Meeks raced 37-yards to the CUW before running out of bounds. Five plays later, Whitley completed a 22-yard pass to Jody Harrison for the score and it was 53-7.
The Muskies would reach the end zone on their next possession as well. Charl-Tez Nunnery came on in relief of Whitley and Larry Rivers took over the running duties for Meeks. The two were absolutely unstoppable. Rivers began the drive with a 17-yard run and would add a 13- and 11-yard carry later in the drive. Nunnery took over from there. On third and 6 at their own 44, the QB raced 40-yards before being tackled at the CUW 16. Nunnery then passed to Eddie for 16-yards and the score to make it 60-7.
The Falcons added one more touchdown. Bryan Gudka passed to D’Anthony Lee for a three-yard touchdown. That made the score 60-14, which was the final.
The defense got some big performances starting with Donte Rowell, who had two-interceptions and a fumble recovery, plus he had two pass breakups. Diante Moses led the team with 10 tackles while McNemon Vincent had two sacks.
Eldrada Meeks led the Lakeland offense with 21-carries for 220-yards and a score. Michael Whitley was 36-47 for 279-yards and 4-touchdowns. Jody Harrison had 10-catches for 94-yards and a score. Allante Gardner had 2-touchdown receptions.
Josh Turner led the Concordia offense, gaining 87-yards on 17-carries. Ryan Wagner had 3-receptions for 75-yards and a touchdown. Albert Goerlitz led the CUW defense with 13-tackles.
Next weekend, the Lakeland Muskies are at home against Adrian College. Kickoff is at 1 PM
By Robert Pannier