One thing that Lakeland University Head Football Coach Colin Bruton has wanted to do this season is involve running back Larry Rivers more in the offense. It is easy to understand why after the sophomore run for two first quarter touchdowns, helping the Muskies to jump out to a 24-0 first quarter lead on their way to a 38-12 victory over Wisconsin Lutheran College. That moved Lakeland to 2-5 while dropping the Warriors to 1-6.
WLC received the opening kickoff and gambled early, going for it on fourth and 4 at their own 40. Pat Mathieson’s pass fell incomplete and the Muskies would take advantage.
However, it looked like they would stall on their opening drive. The first three plays yielded -1 yard, setting up a fourth and 11, and Lakeland opted to go for it. Charl’Tez Nunnery delivered though, finding Larry Rivers out of the backfield, as the running back battled his way for 20 yards and a first down. Three plays later, Lakeland would be faced with a third and 8, and they would turn to their sophomore running back once again, as Rivers raced for 14 yards and a first down. Three plays later, it was Rivers once again, scoring from 1 yard out to give the Muskies an 8-0 lead.
Wisconsin Lutheran was forced to punt on their next possession, and a bad kick yielded just four yards, giving Lakeland the ball at the WLC 33. This drive was all Rivers, as he carried the ball on the first four plays, gaining 30 yards. On fourth and goal at the one, Rivers barreled through the line to score, extending the lead to 16.
On the next possession for the Warriors, Johnathan Hagerty intercepted a Matthieson pass at his own seven. This time, the Muskies turned to sophomore running back Dezmon Eddie and Nunnery to carry the load. Twice the team was faced with third-down situations. Eddie ran for 6 yards on third and two at the team’s 26, gaining a first down, and Nunnery had the big play of the drive, rushing for 46 yards on a third and 1, moving the ball to the 13. Two plays later, Eddie scored from 3 yards out to give Lakeland a 24-0 lead.
Both teams would score a touchdown in the second quarter. After Jake Anderson’s pass was intercepted by Ezekiel Combs and returned 55 yards deep inside WLC territory, Rivers raced 20 yards for a touchdown on the next play to extend his team’s lead to 30-0.
The Warriors would get on the board on their next possession. On the first play of the drive, Tyree Gamble found a seam in the line, racing 55 yards before he was dragged down of the Lakeland one. Two plays later, Joshua Cason scored to cut the deficit to 24. That made it 30-6 heading into the half.
The second half started out a bit sloppy, as both teams fumbled on their opening possession following the break. Lakeland would take advantage on their second possession. Staying on the ground, the Muskies rushed six times for 33 yards as Eddie scored from four yards out to put Lakeland on top by 32.
Just before the end of the third quarter, Anderson led an impressive drive, taking his team 63 yards in eight plays before they would finally score. His pass to Brandon Livingston went for 12 yards and a touchdown to make it a 38-12 game. However, Wisconsin Lutheran would get no closer.
The running game dominated for Lakeland, as they produced 349 yards on the ground. Nunnery ran for 129 yards on 26 carries and Larry Rivers had 118 yards and three touchdowns on 31 attempts. Dezmon Eddie had 105 yards and two scores on 16 attempts. He also added 68 yards receiving on five catches.
The defense for the Muskies was equally as impressive. They held Wisconsin Lutheran to 198 total yards of offense. Jerry Stokes had two sacks and Lakeland had three interceptions and two fumble recoveries on the afternoon.
Gamble had 58 yards rushing on three carries for Wisconsin Lutheran. Anderson threw for 119 yards. Cameron Wolf and Joe Stycynski played well for the Warriors defense. Wolf had 10 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. Stycynski had 12 tackles and forced fumble.
Next week, Lakeland returns home to take on Benedictine University. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 PM. Meanwhile, Wisconsin Lutheran travels to take on Aurora. Their kickoff is at 1:00 PM as well.
By Robert Pannier