Nunnery, Vincent Rally Muskies to Comeback Victory, 19-10
It had been 490 days since the last time that the Lakeland University Muskies took to the field, and they made the most of their return, rallying from an early deficit to defeat Concordia Wisconsin on Saturday, 19-10. Quarterback Charl’Tez Nunnery had a huge afternoon, throwing for 176 yards and rushing for 132 more, including three touchdowns to lead the offense. McNemon Vincent was a thorn in the side of the Falcons all day, recording four sacks and making six tackles overall. The win was the first opening-day victory for Lakeland since 2017.
Lakeland looked like they were going to get things going from the start when Nunnery found Christian Chatman for a 32-yard completion on the second play of the game. However, the drive stalled, and the team was forced to punt, the first of five consecutive punts to begin the contest.
On their third possession of the game, the Falcons moved to the Muskies 9-yard line where they were set up with first and goal. Josh Turner rushed for 4 yards to the Lakeland 4 yard line, but was dropped for a 1 yard loss on the next play. That set at third and goal. James Linn tried for a touchdown pass on each of the next two plays, but both attempts fell incomplete, turning the ball over to Lakeland at their own 6 yard line.
Lakeland was backed up near their own goal line, and things started out poorly when Nunnery’s pass was intercepted at the Lakeland 30. That gave the Falcons a golden opportunity but, once again, they would be stopped. Concordia Wisconsin moved to the Lakeland seven where they faced first and goal. Turner carried the ball on three consecutive plays, moving 6 yards to the Muskies 1 yard line. Faced with fourth and goal just one yard away from the end zone, the Falcons opted to go for it again, but Drew Boyter was stuffed by Shazon Crutcher for no gain, turning the ball over near the Lakeland goal line for the second straight time.
Once again, the Muskies turned the ball over. On first and 10 from their own 28, Eli Wallace sacked Nunnery, forcing a fumble. Dwayne Rackard recovered, giving Concordia Wisconsin the ball at the Muskies 23-yard line. This time they would not be denied, however. Linn found Christian Booker with a 4-yard touchdown pass to put the Falcons on top, 7-0.
Lakeland responded, moving the ball 66 yards in six plays to cut the deficit to one. It looked once again like of the Muskies drive would stall, as the team was faced with third and five at their own 39. However, Nunnery made a big completion to Brice Kensey for 15 yards to the Concordia 46-yard line. Larry Rivers gained 4 yards on the next play, but an incomplete pass set up third and 6. On the next play, Nunnery faked a handoff, then burst through the line untouched, outracing the entire Falcons defense for a 42-yard touchdown run. The extra point was no good.
The Falcons did a little responding of their own, moving 69 yards in 13 plays down to the Lakeland 11. There they were faced with a fourth and 10, opting to go for the field-goal. Mason Kaschinske drilled the 28-yard attempt to give Concordia Wisconsin a 10-6 lead.
For the second straight time, the Muskies responded, this time taking the lead. The team methodically moved down the field, moving 70 yards in 13 plays, taking nearly 4 minutes off the clock. Nunnery completed three of his six passes for 46 yards, including a 21-yard strike to Kensey on third and 12 from his own 41 yard line. It looked like Concordia was going to get a big goal line stand of their own, as Lakeland was first and goal at the seven, but soon found themselves fourth and goal at the six. The coaching staff opted to go for it, and Nunnery delivered on their faith, racing for the corner of the end zone, before cutting back inside to score. The extra point was no good, giving the Muskies a 12-10 lead heading into the half.
In the third quarter, Lakeland extended their lead to nine. Starting from their own 41, Rivers carried the ball three times, moving the team to the Concordia 33. The Muskies methodically moved to the 13 where they faced a third and 7. Nunnery kept the ball once again, racing 13 yards for a touchdown, his third rushing touchdown of the day. The extra point was good, giving Lakeland a 19-10 lead.
Concordia Wisconsin had several opportunities to get back into this game. On their closing possession of the third quarter, they moved the ball to the Lakeland 16, but Linn was sacked on third and seven by Vincent. The field-goal attempt by Jacob Stemper went wide left.
On the next possession for Lakeland, Nunnery’s pass was intercepted at the Muskies 25. Once again, the Falcons had great field position, but Vincent continued to be unstoppable, sacking Linn on third and 11 for a 16 yard loss.
On the next possession, the Muskies moved 71 yards in 15 plays down to the Concordia 9-yard line. On second and goal, Nunnery was looking for his receiver in the corner of the end zone, but Cameran Atwater made a nice plate to pick off the pass attempt. Instead of going down, he came out of the end zone, racing up the middle and looked like he was going to score, but Mason Prunick made what was possibly the play of the day, chasing down Atwater to make the tackle at the Lakeland 29.
That proved to be huge, ate much of the remaining five minutes of the game to hang on for the 19-10 victory.
Nunnery had a solid day for the Muskies, completing 18 of 36 passes for 176 yards and three interceptions. He rushed for 132 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries. Rivers had 116 yards rushing on 31 carries. Kensey had a big day receiving, making 11 catches for 120 yards.
The Lakeland defense was outstanding. Crutcher led the team with 10 tackles and had a forced fumble. Vincent had four sacks for 44 yards in losses and made six overall tackles. Andrew Cardiel had an interception to go along with five tackles. The Muskies defense held the Falcons to 248 total yards of offense, including -8 yards rushing. Concordia was one of 14 on third down conversions and one of four on fourth down conversions.
Linn was 20 of 40 passing for 256 yards with a touchdown and an interception for Concordia Wisconsin. Josh Turner led the team in rushing with 4 yards on 19 carries. Ryley McCreary led the Falcons with 11 tackles.
The Muskies (1-0) spring back into action next Saturday when they travel to take on Rockford (0-1). The kickoff is set for 1:00.
By Robert Pannier