Nunnery Spurs Muskies Comeback Victory, 49-32
The Cheese Bowl proved to be an exciting affair on Saturday evening, as Lakeland rallied from a 20-7 first quarter deficit to pull out a 49-32 victory over Concordia-Wisconsin. Quarterback Charl’Tez Nunnery led the way, throwing for 331 yards and four touchdowns and rushing for 61 more and another score to lead the dramatic comeback. Brice Kensey had a big day, making 17 receptions for 180 yards and a score.
Concordia found themselves trailing early, as they were forced to punt on their first possession, then saw Lakeland move 51 yards in just two plays to take a 7-0 lead. Running back Larry Rivers got the drive started with an 18-yard carry before Nunnery found Kensey for a 33 yard strike.
The Falcons responded right away, moving 76 yards in eight plays to cut the deficit to one. Quarterback James Linn had the big play of the drive, completing eighth 23-yard pass to Tim Houlihan that moved the ball to the Lakeland three. Two plays later, Pierre Summers scored from 2 yards out. The extra point was blocked by Jake LeClaire giving the Muskies a 7-6 lead.
Lakeland was moving the ball on their second possession, reaching midfield, but a fumble by Rivers turn the ball over to the Falcons. Lakeland would turn the ball over on downs on their next possession, giving Concordia the ball at their own 42. The team made the most of it, as Linn completed back-to-back passes to move the ball to the Muskies 31. After an 8-yard run, Lynn found Christian Booker for a 23-yard touchdown to give the Falcons a 13-7 lead.
The Muskies offense was suddenly out of sync, and it got worse when they were forced to punt on their next possession. A bad snap was recovered by Nasir Briggs, who scooped up the ball and scored, and the Falcons were flying with a 20-7 lead.
This game look like he was about to get out of control, but the Muskies methodically moved the ball down the field, moving 73 yards in 16 plays before Nunnery scored from 8 yards out. Rivers got the drive going with a 17-yard run, and the Lakeland quarterback completed five of eight passes on the drive.
Concordia responded by moving 62 yards in seven plays to extend their lead to 12. Linn found Samuel Campbell for 25 yards and a touchdown to complete the drive. The extra point was no good, making it 26-14.
From there, Lakeland dominated the game. They moved 65 yards in seven plays on their next drive, needing just 2:19 before Nunnery tossed his second touchdown pass of the day, this time to Mason Prunick.
Trailing by five, the Muskies defense came up big, sacking Linn on third and nine for an 11-yard loss to force a punt. The ball was downed at the Lakeland 37, and Rivers went to work from there, carrying the ball three times on the first five plays for 33 yards. He would carry the ball five times on the drive, including scoring from 2 yards out to put the Muskies on top by two.
The next possession for the Falcons ended in disaster, as a bad snap on a punt allowed the Muskies to recover the ball at the 7-yard line. That gave them the ball with just 16 seconds left on the clock, clearly enough time for Rivers, who scored from 1 yard out on the third play of the drive to send the Muskies into the locker room leading, 35-26.
It was an unbelievable turn of events that saw Lakeland put 28 points on the scoreboard in the second quarter. Amazingly, neither team was able to score in the third quarter, but Lakeland added two more scores in the final frame.
The Muskies got their first score after Concordia went for it on fourth and 5 at their own 30. Devin Shibilski was given the ball and looked like he had some room, but Romeo Vang and Jayden Tarver were able to close the gap and drag him down two yards short. On the next play, Nunnery found Rivers coming out of the backfield, hitting him for the 33-yard catch and run for a touchdown to extend the lead to 16.
The Falcons moved down the field, reaching the Lakeland 16. However, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty moved the ball back 15 yards, setting up a fourth and 27. Yannik Gruner’s pass fell incomplete, giving the Muskies back the ball. It did not take long for the team to score once again, as Nunnery went up top to Prunik for a 59-yard touchdown to make it a 49-26 game.
Concordia would add one more score on their next possession as Michael Purkey completed a 17-yard touchdown pass to Houlihan to make it a 49-32 game, but it was far too little at that point.
The Lakeland offense but up 518 yards, including 187 on the ground. Nunnery had a huge day, completing 29 of 44 passes for 331 yards and four touchdowns. He also carried the ball nine times for 61 yards and a score. Rivers had 32 carries for 157 yards and two TDs. Kensey had 17 receptions for 180 yards and a score. Prunick added five catches for 71 yards and two touchdowns.
On defense, Lakeland was led by Otis Watts who had another big day, recording three sacks. That is the second time this season that he has recorded three sacks in a game. Watts has nine this season. Rayshion Brumfield had an interception, his fourth of the season. Ezekiel Combs also had a pick.
The Lakeland University Muskies (5-1) travel to take on Eureka College (2-6) next Saturday. The kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.
By Robert Pannier