Muskies Defense Stymies Warriors in 39-6 Victory
The Lakeland Muskies won their third straight game, downing the Wisconsin Lutheran Warriors behind a dominating defensive effort, 39-6. Shazon Crutcher lead a stifling defense that allowed the Warriors just 119 yards of total offense. Larry Rivers had another huge day, rushing for 211 yards and Dezmon Eddie scored two touchdowns in the victory.
Wisconsin Lutheran College was moving the ball well early on. They took the opening kickoff and marched to the Lakeland 34 before turning the ball over on downs. The Muskies were forced to punt on the ensuing possession, and a bad snap resulted in a fumble that was recovered by Mykael Ignaszak. He returned the ball 19 yards for a touchdown to give WLC a 6-0 lead.
The Warriors defense was dominating early on as well. On the third possession of the game for Lakeland, Ignaszak forced his second fumble of the game, recovered by Ty Castillo at the Muskies 26. However, the Lakeland defense proved their dominance, recording three straight plays where the Warriors lost yards, including a 6 yard sack by Marquis Davis.
Through their first three possessions, Lakeland University recorded zero yards of total offense, but they would start to move the ball near the end of the first quarter. The Muskies marched into Wisconsin Lutheran territory, reaching the 46 yard line, but their 10 play drive would result in a punt.
On the next possession, they would not be denied. After forcing WLC to punt after six plays, the Muskies were set up at midfield. After Charl’Tez Nunnery completed a 6 yard pass to start the drive, Lakeland went to the ground behind Larry Rivers. A 12 yard carry by Rivers on second and six moved the ball to the 22 and, on the next play, he went off tackle, bursting through the line and racing the remaining distance for the touchdown. That tied the score at six.
On the next drive for Lakeland, the Warriors forced their third fumble of the game. Colten Eklund forced a fumble which was recovered by Ignasak, giving WLC the ball at their own 35. The Lakeland defense would step up once again, forcing a three and out to give their offense the ball with 2:05 left in the half.
Logan O’Neill came on and worked quickly. He completed three of his first four passes, moving the ball from the Lakeland 42 the WLC 34. On third and two, Rivers took the ball and burst outside, racing 24 yards before being forced out of bounds. On the next play, O’Neill found Christian Chatman for a 10 yard touchdown to give the Muskies a 13-6 lead heading into the half.
Through the first half, the Muskies defense allowed Wisconsin Lutheran just 42 yards of total offense. It was a dominating performance as five of their seven possessions resulted in three and outs.
With the defense completely dominating the Warriors offense, the Lakeland offense began to roll in the second half. However, it didn’t start out that way.
On the first possession after the break, O’Neill’s pass was intercepted and returned to the WLC 39. The Warriors began to move the ball, as quarterback Nick Yockey began the drive with two completions for 25 yards. The drive would bog down however, as Wisconsin Lutheran was faced with a fourth and 10 at the Lakeland 36. The team opted to go for it and Yockey found some room, racing for 6 yards before being tackled and fumbling the ball. Sam Anderson recovered to and the drive.
From there, the Lakeland staff turned to the running game. The Muskies would run on eight of the next nine plays. On the ninth play of the drive, Dezmon Eddie went outside before racing to the end zone for a 20 yard touchdown. That made it 19-6.
Just before the end of the third quarter, Lakeland University extended their lead to 19. The team continued to stay on the ground, rushing seven straight plays before Nunnery scored from one yard out to make it 25-6.
The Muskies sealed the victory with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The first came as part of an 11 play, 58 yard drive that took 5:53 off the clock. The team continued to run the ball as all 11 plays were on the ground. Eddie scored his second touchdown of the game, a one-yard burst to the outside to give Lakeland a 32-6 lead.
On the next possession for Wisconsin Lutheran, Anthony Munoz’s pass was intercepted by Rayshion Brumfield. Brumfield made a couple of nice moves before going down the sidelines for a 77 yard touchdown return. That gave the Muskies a 39-6 lead, which would be the final score.
The Lakeland defense was nothing short of awesome. They allowed 11 total first downs, and two of those came via a penalty. WLC gains 38 yards on the ground and 81 through the air. They were held to 4 of 15 on third down conversions. Shazon Crutcher led the team with nine tackles and had a sack.
On offense, Lakeland was led by another impressive performance by running back Larry Rivers. Rivers carried the ball 29 times for 211 yards and a touchdown. That moved him over a thousand yards for the season, just the fifth running back in school history to achieve the mark. Dezmon Eddie rushed for 86 yards and two scores on 13 carries.
Wisconsin Lutheran College got an impressive performance out of their defense. Mykael Ignaszak made 16 tackles, forced two fumbles, and recovered two fumbles. Jade Burge had 15 tackles and a sack. He also intercepted a pass.
The Lakeland Muskies (4-3) take to the field next Saturday when they travel to take on Eureka College (3-2). Kickoff is scheduled for 1 PM. Wisconsin Lutheran will take on Concordia-Chicago (4-3) next Saturday. That is a 12 PM start time.
By Robert Pannier
Featured Image Courtesy of Lakeland Football