Pioneers Defense Stiffens to Sink Muskies, 45-26
The Lakeland Muskies looked like they were in the driver’s seat on Saturday afternoon, taking a 20-10 lead over Carroll University with a little over 13 minutes left in the first half. However, the Pioneers defense stiffened, holding Lakeland to just six more points over the remaining portion of the contest while forcing three turnovers in the 45-26 victory.
After Carroll was forced to punt on their first drive of the contest, the Muskies went the opposite direction moving the ball 82 yards on just three plays to take the lead. On third and seven at their own 21, junior Logan O’Neill went up top, finding Jamal Hawkins-Sconiers for a 79 yard touchdown to give Lakeland the 6-0 lead.
The Pioneers came right back, moving 85 yards on eight plays to take their first lead of the game. Quarterback Colton Bahling got the drive started with a 25 yard completion to JJ Keels and Keels would finish off the drive with a 30 yard rushing touchdown to put Carroll University on top 7-6.
Back the other way came the Muskies. Michael Moreau led the drive, carrying the ball five times for 34 yards. O’Neill would finally finish off the drive, completing a 17 yard strike to Brice Kensey for a touchdown. The two-point conversion was good and Lakeland led 14-7.
Carroll would add a 26 yard field goal to pull back within four, but the ensuing kickoff was returned 97 yards by Larry Rivers to put Lakeland up by 10.
With a little under seven minutes left in the half, Carroll University would pull within three. After a 34 yard punt was returned 26 yards by Justin Robles, giving the Pioneers the ball at the Lakeland 19, it looked like the drive would stall when Carroll was only able to record 2 yards on their first three plays. Opting to go for it, Bahling found Campbell for a 17 yard touchdown to make the score 20-17.
The second half would be completely dominated by Carroll University. The Pioneers would take the lead at 5:02 of the third quarter when Cassaro intercepted an O’Neill pass and raced 75 yards for a touchdown. That put the Pioneers on top, 24-20.
Lakeland would retake the lead two possessions later. Starting from midfield, Rivers carried the ball four times for 49 yards, helping move the ball to the Carroll 1 yard line. It looked like the Muskies would be stopped as they were faced with a fouth and goal at the 6 yard line, but Chal’Tez Nunnery completed a 6 yard pass to Mason Prunick to put Lakeland back on top by two.
From there, the Pioneers dominated the contest. They would retake the lead with 13:36 left in the game. That came on a 1 yard pass from Bahling to David Meza.
On the next possession for Lakeland, Nunnery fumbled, and the ball was recovered at the Lakeland 31. Five plays later Keels scored from 6 yards out to extend the lead to 12.
On their next possession, Carroll University would find the end zone again. After starting the drive at the Muskies 48, Keels scored from 8 yards out to give the Pioneers a 45-26 lead. That would be the final.
Colton Bahling threw for 121 yards and two touchdowns. JJ Keels had 79 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Sean Schmidt led the Pioneers defense, recording 10 tackles and a sack.
The Lakeland offense was led by Larry Rivers who gained 59 yards on eight carries. Three receivers had a touchdown reception for the Muskies. The defense was led by Shazon Crutcher, who had 12 total tackles.
Lakeland University (0-1) has their bye week next weekend. They will have their home opener on September 15 when they take on Trine University. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00.
By Robert Pannier