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The Lakeland College football team looks to remain unbeaten in Northern Athletics Conference play as it hosts Concordia University Chicago on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 1 p.m. Lakeland (3-3) is 3-0 in league played and tied for first place with Benedictine University.
The Cougars (3-2, 2-1 NAC) are coming off a 48-14 victory over Rockford College. Concordia Chicago totaled 561 yards of offense, passing for 229 and rushing for 332. Quarterback Jake Koehler led the Cougars with 144 rushing yards on six carries and one touchdown. He also completed 8-of-17 passes for 193 yards, three TDs and one interception. Slot receiver Jones Sherman was vital as well, rushing for 61 yards on 11 carries with one TD while also catching a 51-yard TD pass, his only catch of the game. Wide receiver Savonte Hunt led the team in receiving with four catches for 82 yards.
In last year's 48-7 loss to Concordia Chicago, Lakeland was held to 157 yards of offense, 128 passing and 29 rushing. The defense just couldn't prevent the big plays, allowing the Cougars to score four TDs of 30 or more yards. Concordia amassed 572 total yards. The Cougars have a new backfield this season, but remain a dangerous team.
The Cougars return just four players on offense, but they remain a big-play threat with their fast, explosive spread offense. "They have a big quarterback who is very athletic," said Bruton. "He's a load to tackle once he gets going so, we need to contain the run and try and confuse him in the passing game. We need to force them to throw the ball and hopefully force some mistakes."
The offense put together a solid performance in last week's 20-7 victory over Wisconsin Lutheran College. Lakeland totaled 325 yards of offense, 158 passing and 167 rushing. Sophomore Dylan Van Straten (Shiocton, Wis.) continued to be a dual-threat at QB, rushing for 89 yards on 27 carries and one TD, while also completing 9-of-18 passes for 158 yards, one TD and one interception. Senior wide receiver Justin Groeneveld (Kingsford, Mich.) continued to torch NAC defenses as he caught four passes for 98 yards and one TD.
With seven returners on defense, the Cougars are the most experienced defense the Muskies have faced this season. Lakeland's young offense will have to play sound, fundamental football and not turn the ball over.
While they've had some success in conference play so far, Lakeland head coach Kevin Doherty understands that this week won't be easy. "It's been a common theme all season: We need to put the last few games behind us and prepare for the task at hand," Doherty said. "We need to play solid, fundamental football and move the chains. They are a very explosive team that can score from anywhere on the field. We need to limit their offensive chances and play like we did last week."
To see what Hahm thinks is the key on offense, click here.
To see what Doherty says are the keys to a win, click here.
To see what Bruton has to say about stopping the spread, click here.