Lakeland Defense Shuts Down Cougars in 63-7 Thrashing
The Concordia-Chicago offense produced 88 yards on their first two possessions of the game, then were held to 231 the rest of the way as the Lakeland Muskies downed the Cougars, 63-7. It was a stifling performance by Lakeland defense, who scored three touchdowns on the day. Running back Larry Rivers continues his assault on the Lakeland record book, rushing 131 yards and scoring three touchdowns.
Lakeland took the opening kickoff and marched 54 yards in nine plays to take a 7-0 lead. Rivers carried the ball six times during the drive which was capped off when quarterback Charl’Tez Nunnery scored from 8 yards out, his fourth rushing touchdown of the season.
Concordia looked to respond right away, moving quickly down the field to the Lakeland 5-yard line. On third and 2, the ball was handed to Tyeray McKinney, but the play was stuffed by Andrew Cardiel, who forced a fumble. The ball was recovered by Jayson Wilder.
Denied on their first opportunity, the Cougars moved down the field in their second possession, reaching the Lakeland 29. Faced with a fourth and 18 Concordia sent kicker Ryan Auer to make a 39 yarder, but his attempt sailed wide right.
That put the ball back in the hands of Nunnery, and he sent the team on a 10 play, 71-yard drive that led his team to a 14-0 lead. Rivers got the drive going, carrying the ball twice to give the Muskies a fresh set of downs. Nunnery took over from there, carrying the ball twice for 14 yards and completing two of his three passes, including a 32-yard completion to Rivers for a touchdown, his second receiving touchdown of the season.
With a 14-point lead, the Lakeland defense took command of this game, holding the Cougars to negative yards on five of their next seven possessions and ending the other two possessions with interceptions. Following the touchdown by Rivers, Concordia lost 3 yards or their next possession before being forced to punt. Five plays later, Rivers carried the ball for the third straight time, scoring from 3 yards out to give his team a 21-0 lead.
The next time the Cougars had the ball, Shazon Crutcher intercepted a Troy Pratley pass, returning it 25 yards for a touchdown.
On the next possession for Concordia, Pratley was stripped of the ball by D’Jimon Stuckey, who recovered the fumble, returning 11 yards before being tackled at the Cougars 25. Two plays later, Nunnery found Kolby Cohen for a 25-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 35.
Concordia lost 7 yards on their next possession before turning the ball over on downs. The Cougars had their best shot at putting points on the board when Lakeland turned the ball over on downs at their own 23-yard line. However, Concordia moved backwards, losing a yard before Auer’s 34-yard field goal attempt fell short.
Lakeland moved into Concordia territory on their next possession, but Nunnery was stripped of the ball as he was being sacked, giving the Cougars the ball at their own 48-yard line. Pratley then went to the air, but his pass was picked off by Rayshion Brumfield, who raced 56 yards untouched for the second defensive touchdown of the day by the Muskies. That gave Lakeland a 42-0 lead heading into the half.
The Muskies extended their lead to 49, scoring on their first possession of the second half. Nunnery helped to convert three third down conversions during the drive, earning first downs with two carries and completing a 13-yard pass to Jaylen Rido on the third. On the 11th play of the drive, Rivers burst up the middle for a 21-yard touchdown run, his second of the day.
Concordia had been held to 7 yards to their first two possessions in the second half, but finally got on the board when DeAndre Daniels found room on the right side, racing 60 yards for a touchdown, giving the Cougars some life.
Two possessions later, Concordia was knocking on the door once again, moving to the Lakeland 8-yard line where they faced first and goal. Jordan Sepulveda had taken over at the quarterback position and was set to push his team into the end zone, but his pass on fourth down was intercepted by Jayden Tarver.
That gave the Muskies the ball at their own 20. Lane Sobieski took over at quarterback for Lakeland and moved the team 80 yards in 11 plays before connecting with Devin Martin for a 32-yard touchdown to extend the lead back to 49. Sobieski completed three passes on the drive for 50 yards and ran for another 12.
With 5:30 left in the contest, the Lakeland defense added their third touchdown of the contest. With the ball at midfield, Romeo Vang made a spectacular read, forcing a fumble by running back Amarion Hicks. Matt Glogowski scooped up the ball and raced 48 yards for a touchdown to make it a 63-7 Lakeland lead. That would be the final.
The Lakeland defense was spectacular, holding the Cougars to two of nine on third-down conversions and 93 yards through the air. The offense was led by Rivers, who had 162 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns. Nunnery finished 14 of 19 for 139 yards and two touchdowns. He also carried the ball nine times for 34 yards and a score. Mason Prunick had five receptions for 32 yards.
The Lakeland Muskies return home next Saturday to welcome Concordia-Wisconsin (6-1). Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00.
by Robert Pannier