Michael by Land and by Air in Muskies Victory over Rockford
ROCKFORD, IL – It may not be as momentous as Paul Revere’s ride to warn the colonists of the arrival of the British army, but Lakeland University quarterback Robby Michael had his own way of leading his “army” on Saturday. The sophomore quarterback threw for 206 yards and rushed for 143 more as he led the Muskies to a 41-20 victory over Rockford University. Caleb Besaw had 10 catches for 115 yards and a score and Kolby Cohen had four catches for 73 yards and two touchdowns.
Lakeland took the opening kickoff and marched 75 in six plays before taking a 7-0 lead. Devon Harris got the drive going with a 38-yard run and he added two more rushes for 11 total yards to give his team another fresh set of downs. The ball was at the Rockford 16 when Michael found Besaw for a touchdown to put his team on top by seven.
The Regents were forced to punt on their first possession and Lakeland looked like they would strike again, moving to the Rockford 12. However, on fourth down and 8, Michael’s pass fell incomplete, turning the ball over on downs.
The Regents made the most of it, riding the arm of quarterback Jaelen Ray to tie the score. The Rockford QB had a huge 44-yard completion to Curtis Hosea, then found Marc Surpris for 16 more. The drive looked like it would stall when the Regents faced fourth and 3 at the Lakeland 18. The Regents opted to go for it and Ray rewarded them, completing a pass down the middle to Da’Quan McIntosh to knot the game at seven.
The score remained tied through the end of the first quarter, but the Muskies had the ball and they were driving. Harris got the drive going, but it was two big past interference calls that helped keep the chains moving, including one play where an attempt by Michael had been intercepted, but a pass interference call put the ball back into his hands. Three plays later, the quarterback found Cohen for a 17-yard touchdown to make it 14-7.
On the next possession for Rockford, Ray was picked off by Justin McMahon, but the Lakeland offense went nowhere. The Regents would punt on the ensuring possession, giving the Muskies the ball at their own 29.
This time, Lakeland would not be denied. The drive did not go well initially as Michael was dropped for an eight-yard loss. However, he delivered a huge completion on fourth and 9, finding Cohen for 39 years and the score to make it 21-7. That would be the score heading into the locker room.
The Regents punted on their first possession of the second half, but got a big defensive play on the first possession for Lakeland. Michael went back to pass when Maddux Rigsby intercepted the attempt, returning it 27 yards for a touchdown to cut the Rockford deficit to seven.
Lakeland immediately responded, moving 52 yards in 12 plays before settling on a field goal. Lakeland kept the ball on the ground, as seven of the 12 plays were rushes. That included a 17-yard carry by Michael. On fourth and 13 at the Rockford 21, Jesus Garcia drilled a 38-yard attempt to extend the lead to 10.
The score remained that way through the next six minutes but, with 1:21 left in the quarter, Lakeland extended their lead to 17. A 25-yard punt return by Kaeden Calcari put the ball at the Rockford 42. On the next play, Michael kept the ball, racing up the middle and through the secondary for 42 yards and a touchdown to make it 31-14.
Rockford was able to cut the deficit to 14 when Kaden Finnestad hit a 30-yard field goal a little over two minutes into the fourth quarter. However, Garcia connected on a 28-yard attempt to restore the 17-point advantage. The Regents were forced to settle for a 35-yard field goal by Finnestad on their next possession.
Once again, Lakeland responded, moving 47 yards in seven plays before Michael scored from 23 yards out. The Muskies were clearly trying to run out the clock, rushing on all seven plays of the drive. On fourth and two at the 23, Michael moved to his right, then raced toward the end zone for his second rushing touchdown of the day.
It was another impressive performance for Michael, as he completed 19 of 30 passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns. He also carried the ball 13 times for 143 yards and two TDs. For the Lakeland quarterback it was his third straight game producing at least three touchdowns. Jayton Bevly had 19 carries for 87 yards rushing and Harris had 11 carries for 33 yards.
The defense had a solid day as well, led by Charles Kobe and Shamond Oliver, who each had eight tackles. McMahon had a tackle and an interception. The defense allowed 275 total yards of offense, including just 54 on the ground.
The Lakeland University Muskies (2-2) return home to take on the St. Norbert College Green Knights (2-2) next Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.
by Robert Pannier