Turnovers Spoil Spectacular Performance by Muskies Defense
There was expected to be some bumps on the road for the Lakeland University football team, especially early on as the team had to replace five key players on offense and eight on defense. However, the road was a little bumpier than expected on Thursday, as the team fell behind 31-6 before rallying behind quarterback Robby Michael but still fell short, 38-20. Quarterback Lane Sobieski struggled, completing 10-30 while throwing three interceptions. Michael came off the bench to complete 11 of 19 passes and rushed for 130 yards.
Neither team scored in their first two possessions. The Muskies defense was dominating early on, holding Illinois College to just 10 total yards through their first two possessions. That included stuffing them on their second possession, as a 41-yard punt and 10 yard holding penalty gave Lakeland the ball at the Blueboy 30. The Muskies looked like they were going to be stopped when they faced a fourth and 1 at the Illinois College 21. The coaching staff opted to go for it, and a pass interference call gave them a first down of the 13. Three plays later, the team faced a fourth down, this time at the five. Sobieski kept the ball, squirting through the line for a 5-yard touchdown. The extra point was no good, as Lakeland lead, 6-0.
The Lakeland defense continued to dominate, holding Illinois College to just one yard over their next two possessions and the Blueboy had 11 total yards through the first four times with the ball. However, things changed quickly as a Sobieski pass was picked off by Charlie Patterson and returned 42 yards to put IC on top, 7-6.
The Blueboy were shut down on their next possession as well, but another big defensive play put them on top by eight. Collin Brunstein picked off a Sobieski pass and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown.
Illinois College had one possession where they moved the ball, adding three on the board with just under six minutes left in the half. Quarterback Jack Hanauer led an 8-play, 34-yard drive that resulted in a 27-yard field goal by Toby McTamney.
The Muskies trailed by 11 entering the half, despite a spectacular performance by the defense that saw the group allow just 58 yards on 36 plays. However, turnovers killed Lakeland and that continued into the second half.
On the first possession for the Muskies following the break, Sobieski’s pass was picked off at the IC 27 and returned 73 yards by Kyle McCalla to make it 24-6.
That would be it for Sobieski as Michael came on and the offense began to move, gaining 29 yards before turning the ball over on downs. The next possession for Illinois College looked like it would stall as they faced third and 18 at their own 19, but Hanauer found Chase Blanquart down the right hash mark hitting him for a 56-yard completion down to the Lakeland 25. Three plays later, Hanauer connected with KJ Corley for a 13-yard touchdown pass to make it 31-6.
On the next possession for the Blueboy, the defense came up big once again, forcing a fourth and 16. Illinois College chose to punt, but Donyaeh Core blocked the kick. That gave Lakeland the ball at the 20-yard line. Five plays later, Jatron Bevly scored from 4 yards out to cut the deficit to 19.
IC extended their lead to 26 when Trevor Smalls rushed 38 yards for a touchdown to make it 38-12. Michael responded, racing 70 yards for a touchdown to make it 38-20. That would be the final.
The Lakeland defense was very impressive, holding the Blueboy to just 192 yards of total offense, including 99 through the air. Illinois College held the ball for 27:32, were 5-18 on third down, and had just 14 first downs.
The Lakeland offense put up big numbers, including 343 total yards and were 5-10 on fourth down. However, three interceptions proved to be the difference in the game. Sobieski completed 10 of 30 passes for 88 yards and three interceptions. He also carried the ball 17 times for 64 yards and a TD. Michael was 11-19 for 48 yards and carried the ball 11 times for 130 yards and a score.
The Lakeland defense recorded three sacks and had an interception. Karlis Ozols led the team would nine tackles.
Next Saturday, Lakeland University looks to even their record as they welcome Buena Vista University to town. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00.
by Robert Pannier