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The Lakeland College football team is preparing for a bounce-back performance to stay in contention in the Northern Athletics Conference when the Muskies travel to league-leader Benedictine University this Saturday. Kickoff in Lisle, Ill., is at 1 p.m.
Lakeland (3-4, 3-1 NAC) fell into a tie for second after a 20-7 loss last Saturday to Concordia University Chicago. Benedictine (5-2, 4-0) is the preseason NAC favorite. A Lakeland win could mean a four-way tie for first place with two weeks to play.
The Eagles are coming off a 41-7 win over Maranatha Baptist Bible College. In the win, Benedictine totaled 495 yards of offense, 260 rushing and 235 passing. Eagle quarterback Matt Brown led the offense as he completed 14 of 21 passes for 226 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. His favorite target, Chris Schultz, caught five passes for 123 yards and two TD's. Meanwhile, running back John Borsellino had a big day, rushing for 122 yards on 21 carries and two TD's.
In last year's contest, the Eagles offense had its way as they scored 46 points while amassing 332 yards of offense. Borsellino did most of the damage as he rushed for 94 yards on 31 carries and scored twice while also catching four passes for 61 yards and two more TDs. Lakeland defensive coordinator Colin Bruton understands that Borsellino can have a big impact on the game.
Lakeland will look to rebound after seeing its three-game win streak snapped. The Muskies offense was able to total 302 yards of offense, 203 passing, but couldn't find the end zone. Lakeland converted on just one of three trips inside the red zone and couldn't capitalize on four Concordia Chicago turnovers. Senior Adam Miller was the team's leading rusher with 40 yards on eight carries, while sophomore QB Dylan Van Straten completed 16 of 35 passes for 194 yards with one TD and one interception. Senior Justin Groeneveld had another big day, catching seven passes for 111 yards, but didn't score.
Tony Faller led the defensive efforts, as that unit did all it could to stop the Cougars high-powered offense. Faller had 13 tackles, .5 for a loss, one fumble recovery, one pass break up and one interception.
Last season, the Lakeland offense had some success against Benedictine, as the Muskies totaled 266 yards of offense, 154 passing and 112 rushing. However, the offense also had five turnovers, with four of the five giving the Eagles a short field and leading to five TDs. Lakeland offensive coordinator Peter Hahm said the team needs to take care of the ball to get a win this year.
Lakeland head coach Kevin Doherty has been encouraging his players to move past last week's loss and maintain some focus. "We need to have a short memory," said Doherty. "We need to fix our mistakes and get a strong level of focus back."
To see what Doherty has to say about this week's matchup, click here.
To see what Hahm has to say about facing the Benedictine defense, click here.
To hear what Bruton thinks the defense needs to do this week, click here.