Green Knights Ground Down Muskies Comeback, 24-21
Plymouth, Wisconsin – The St. Norbert College Green Knights rushed for 184 yards to help ground their way past the Lakeland University Muskies, 24-21. That helped to stymie an impressive comeback by Lakeland, who pulled within three with a little over two minutes left in the contest, but St. Norbert was able to gain two more first downs on the ground to kill the clock to secure the victory.
Lakeland had the first big play of the contest. The Green Knights took the opening kickoff and advanced to Lakeland 44 where they faced a third and four. Peyton Lyon went back to pass, but his attempt was picked off by Shamond Oliver at the Lakeland 17.
The Muskies drive stalled, forcing a punt, and this time the Green Knights would not be denied, moving 61 yards in seven plays to take a 7-0 lead. Lyon had a big 21-yard completion Austin Miller that put the ball at the Lakeland 36. Three plays later, the St. Norbert quarterback found Paul Bageanis for a 19-yard touchdown.
With a little under two minutes left in the first quarter it would be the St. Norbert defense making a big play. On second and five at the Lakeland 42, Muskies QB Robby Michael went back to pass, looking into the flat. However, Sam Barnett read the play perfectly, picking off the pass attempt and going the opposite direction for a 46-yard touchdown. That made it 14-0.
Lakeland was down, but refused to allow the setback to turn the momentum of this game. The Muskies took the ball on their next possession and moved 79 yards in seven plays before cutting the deficit to seven. Michael had a huge 13-yard carry on third and three to give his team a fresh set a downs, and Devon Harris had a big 12 yard run as well. On second at eight from the St. Norbert 38, Michael found Kaeden Calcari down the middle for the touchdown to make it 14-7. That would be the score heading into the half.
The Muskies were forced to punt on their first possession of the second half, giving the ball to the Green Knights. St. Norbert made the most of it, moving 53 yards in 12 plays to restore the 14 point lead. St. Norbert used their impressive ground game to get going, calling for seven straight running plays to start the drive, moving to the Lakeland 18. After a 13-yard completion, Delton Zulegar scored from 4 yards out to make it 21-7.
Lakeland was struggling to get moving offensively, but cut the deficit to seven with a little under two minutes left in the third quarter. Starting from their own 20, Michael used his arm and legs to get Lakeland down to the St. Norbert two. He had a huge 48-yard completion to Caleb Besaw and an 11-yard run as well. The team faced a fourth and goal of the two when Michael kept the ball, finding a corner before diving into the end zone to make it 21-14.
With 3:33 left in the contest Dalton Moyse hit a 21 yard field goal to make it 24-14.
Muskies needed two scores and got one of those right away, needing just 1:10 before making this a 24-21 game. Michael completed all three of his pass attempts on the drive, including a 49-yard touchdown strike to Kolby Cohen.
The Muskies went for the onside kick, but failed to recover. That gave St. Norbert the ball at the Lakeland 44. The Green Knights were set on trying to run out the clock, and Zulger delivered, gaining 23 total yards on three carries. More importantly, he gave his team to first downs to help the club run out the clock.
Michael finish 20-31 318 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. The Muskies had 93 total yards rushing. Besaw had nine receptions for 113 yards, and Cohen had three catches for 88 yards and a TD. The Lakeland defense had two sacks and two interceptions. Andrew Redditt and Karlis Ozols led the team with eight tackles apiece.
Next Saturday, the Lakeland University Muskies (2-2, 1-1) travel to take on the Wisconsin Lutheran College Warriors (1-4, 1-2). Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00.
by Robert Pannier