Muskies Rally Falls Short in 23-14 Loss to Benedictine
The Lakeland University Muskies found themselves trailing by 17 entering the second half, but rallied for 14 points to pull within three before falling, 23-14. The Lakeland offense put on an impressive showcase, producing 462 yards while the defense held the Eagles to 276 total yards. Quarterback Robby Michael threw for 204 yards and rushed for 173 more in the loss.
Lakeland took the opening kickoff but turned the ball over on downs at their own 29. The Eagles had trouble moving the ball, reaching the 12 before they faced a fourth and seven. Benedictine opted to go for the field goal, and Tanner Mateus drilled a 29 yarder to make it 3-0.
That would be the only score of the first quarter, as both teams had long drives on their next possessions. Lakeland moved 59 yards in 14 plays, reaching the Benedictine six where they faced fourth and four. The team went for it, but Michael was sacked for 6-yard loss, turning the ball over on downs.
Back the other way Benedictine went, going 88 yards in 17 plays before scoring to take a 10-0 lead. Starting from their own 12, the team stayed on the ground, as eight of the first 10 plays of the drive were running plays. Julian Barnes had the first two carries of the drive, and Gregory Hoard had three straight carries, gaining 26 yards on those attempts. On third and three at the five, Kiandre Morris carried the ball 5 yards for a touchdown.
The Muskies looked to respond on their next drive, starting at their own 16. Michael connected with Chris Crawford for 40 yards down to the Benedictine 46. A 26-yard pass from Michael to Kolby Cohen would have tied the score, but the touchdown was called back on a holding call. Lakeland reached the 8-yard line, where they opted to go for a field goal, but the attempt sailed wide left.
With 1:11 left in the half, the Eagles extended their lead to 17. This was another long drive that saw the team move 81 yards in 12 plays, taking 5:55 off the clock. Benedictine stayed to the ground once again, carrying the ball on six of the first seven plays of the drive. Quarterback Evan Wydajewski had a big 13-yard completion to Nathan Rillo that put the ball at the five, and Rillo scored from 5 yards out on the next play to make it 17-0.
Lakeland was having success moving the ball in the first half, but came away empty-handed on each of their possessions. However, the team put together two be scoring drives in the third quarter to pull within three.
On the second possession of the half for the Muskies, the team went 65 yards in 15 plays to cut the deficit to 10. Michael was spectacular on the drive, carrying the ball seven times and completing two passes. He had a huge 27 yard carry down to the Benedictine 14 and scored from 2 yards out.
On the next possession for the Eagles, Leondre Townsend picked off a Wydajewski pass, returning it to the Benedictine 35 before he was tackled. On the second play of the ensuing drive, Michael kept the ball, finding a seam before racing 26 yards down to the Benedictine 3 yard line. Two plays later, Devon Harris scored from 2 yards out to make it 17-14.
The Muskies were rallying and looked like they would tie the score. Very early in the fourth quarter, Lakeland got the ball at their own 20 and mounted a 14 play, 64-yard drive that moved them to the Benedictine 16. There the drive stalled and the team opted to go for a field goal. However, Blake Davis blocked the attempt, helping to preserve the three-point lead.
That proved to be critical, as the Eagles went the other direction, scoring a touchdown to extend the lead to nine. The team needed eight plays to move 69 yards before Kiandre Morris scored from 1 yard out to make it 23-14.
Lakeland had one more opportunity to score, reaching the Benedictine 16. However, after Michael was sacked for a 10-yard loss, his next pass was intercepted by Davis to preserve the victory.
Michael completed 14 of 32 passes for 204 yards and an interception. He also carried the ball 25 times for 173 yards and a score. Jatron Bevly had 17 carries for 58 yards. Chris Crawford had five catches for 106 yards. The defense was led by Andrew Cardiel, who had 13 tackles.
The Lakeland University Muskies (0-5) will welcome Concordia University Chicago (2-4) on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30.
by Robert Pannier