Muskies Rally to Stun Eureka Late, 35-34
Plymouth, Wisconsin – Robby Michael found Caleb Besaw for a 16-yard touchdown with 23 seconds left and Jesus Garcia connected on the extra point to help the Lakeland University Muskies rally to defeat Eureka on Saturday, 35-34. Lakeland rallied from a 20-point deficit, scoring 21 unanswered points in the final seven minutes of the game to earn the victory. Michael had a huge day, throwing for 309 yards and four touchdowns, while rushing for 105 yards and a score.
Eureka took the opening kickoff and marched 52 yards to the Lakeland 33-yard line before turning the ball over on downs. That gave the Muskies the ball at their own 23, and Michael led an impressive six play, 77-yard drive that gave Lakeland a 7-0 lead. Michael had a 28-yard completion to running back Jatron Bevley, plus a 28-yard carry that put the ball at the Eureka seven. On the next play, the quarterback found Keon Willis for a 7-yard touchdown.
The Red Devils responded right away, needing seven plays to tie the score at seven. A 34-yard completion by Kaeden Frazier to Sebastian Hill put the ball at the Lakeland 15-yard line. After a 14-yard completion to Alex Glover, Angel Garcia took the ball up the middle for the 1-yard touchdown.
The Muskies did a little responding of their own, going 65 yards in just 90 seconds before regaining a seven-point advantage. Michael connected with Besaw for 40 yards on the first play of the drive. A personal foul gave Lakeland 12 additional yards. Two running plays set up a third and five at the eight, then Michael found Besaw for an eight-yard touchdown to make it 14-7.
Not to be outdone, Eureka went 81 yards in nine plays, this time taking the lead. The Red Devils kept the ball on the ground, running on eight plays on the drive. Ben Bernabei completed the drive with a 2-yard touchdown, and the team succeeded on the two-point conversion to make it 15-14.
Eureka extended the lead to seven with a little under seven minutes left in the first half. After Michael was intercepted in the Eureka end zone, Frazier found Kobe Newman for 38 yards and into Lakeland territory. Three plays later, Garcia burst through the line, racing 34 yards for the score. The extra point was no good to make it 21-14.
The Muskies looked like they would respond right away, reaching the Eureka 36-yard line. However, on fourth and 13, Michael was intercepted at the Eureka 4-yard line.
Eureka extended the lead to 13 when they scored on their first possession of the second half. A 54-yard punt by Ben Garcia put the ball at the Red Devils 4-yard line. However, the visitors were undeterred, going 96 yards in 11 plays before Bernabei scored from 1 yard out. The extra point was no good, making it 27-14.
Two possessions later, Michael led his team into Eureka territory once again, reaching the Red Devils 42. However, on second and 34, the Muskies quarterback was intercepted for the third time in the game. That gave Eureka the ball at their own 18, and they took full advantage, going 82 yards in sixth plays before making it a 20-point lead. Garcia scored on a 31-yard run to make it 34-14. Garcia had a huge day, finishing with 157 yards rushing and three touchdowns on just 22 carries.
Things were looking bad for Lakeland, especially after they turned the ball over on downs at their own 47 on the next possession. However, Jordin Garvin intercepted a Frazier pass at the 8-yard line, returning it 32 yards. This time, Michael would not be denied, taking his team on a seven play, 67-yard drive that took 1:53 off the clock. A 38-yard completion to Chris Crawford put the ball at the 17. On fourth and eighth, Michael found Devon Harris for 15 yards and the score to make it 34-21.
The Lakeland defense forced Eureka to punt on their next possession, and Michael led his team on a nine play, 65-yard drive that pulled the club within six. Michael had a big 6-yard carry on fourth and one that put the ball at the nine, and scored from 3 yards out two plays later to make it 34-28.
Once again, the Muskies defense stepped up, forcing a turnover on downs when they stuffed Garcia for no gain on fourth and one at the Lakeland 41-yard line. There was just 63 seconds left on the clock, and Michael made the most of them, bailing his team out on third and 10 when he found Kaeden Calcari for 24 yards down to the Eureka 35. A 19-yard completion to Harris put the ball at the Eureka 16, and Michael found Besaw on the next play for a touchdown to put his team up by one.
Eureka was able to reach midfield on their next possession, but time ran out securing the one-point victory for the Muskies.
Lakeland produced 472 yards of total offense, led by Michael who completed 24 of 43 passes for 309 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed 22 times for 105 yards and a score. Besaw had four catches for 78 yards and two touchdowns and Harris had five catches for 78 yards and a TD. Bevly finished with six catches for 75 yards. The Lakeland defense was led by Charles Kobe who had 10 tackles.
The season for the Lakeland University Muskies (4-6, 3-5) is over. The team will resume play on the Thursday before Labor Day 2024.
by Robert Pannier