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MILWAUKEE - Kendrick Burks (So.-Pontiac, Mich.) rushed for a career high 149 yards but Wisconsin Lutheran College kept the Lakeland College football team winless Saturday, holding off the Muskies by a 27-17 score Saturday afternoon at Raabe Stadium.
The Muskies held their own for much of the game against the Warriors, overcoming an early 11-point deficit to take the lead and trailing by only a field goal for most of the last 2 1/2 quarters. Wisconsin Lutheran got two big pass plays in the first half, though, and converted several key third and fourth down plays late in the fourth quarter to win both teams' Northern Athletics Conference opener and improve to 3-1 overall this year.
Warriors quarterback Zach Shaw and receiver Josh Stodola teamed up for a pair of big pass plays, including a 72-yard touchdown for a 14-3 lead late in the first quarter. Despite falling behind early though, the Muskies fought back to take the lead early in the second quarter on the strength of two big plays of its own.
Lakeland scored twice in a span of 2:03, including its first touchdown with 13:15 left in the second quarter. Landon Derginer (Fr.-Marinette, Wis.) blocked a punt by Brett Youngbeck and Deron Thomas-Key (Sr.-Sheboygan, Wis.) picked up the ball on the bounce and took it in three yards for a touchdown.
The Muskies got the ball back again just two plays later when Cody Lemke (Jr.-Kewaskum, Wis.) intercepted Shaw and returned it 24 yards to the WLC 18. Lakeland scored three plays later as Burks scampered 10 yards around left end for a touchdown to make it 17-14.
The Muskies' lead lasted just over three minutes, though, as Wisconsin Lutheran came right back to score five plays later. Shaw and Stodola hooked up for a 44-yard catch and run, but Josh Ruppel missed the extra point to keep the score at 20-17.
The game turned into a defensive battle in the second half, as neither team scored in the third quarter. Burks continued to gain yardage on the ground, but the Muskies were torpedoed by seven penalties in the second half, many of them short-circuiting offensive drives.
The score was still 20-17 when Wisconsin Lutheran got the ball back with 5:25 left in the game. The Muskies were unable to get one more stop as the Warriors converted a third down and two fourth downs, cashing in with 42 seconds left on fourth down when Shaw found John Klein open in the flat for an 11-yard touchdown.
Burks accounted for all but 25 yards of Lakeland's total offense total, rushing 24 times and gaining 6.2 yards per carry. The Muskies were held to 174 yards of total offense, though, including just 43 yards through the air. Dylan Van Straten (Jr.-Shiocton, Wis.) completed five of 13 passes for 43 yards and an interception, while Chris Jaskulski (Jr.-Greenfield, Wis.) led the receivers with two catches for 22 yards.
The Lakeland defense was led by Lemke with 11 tackles. Erik Lucht (Jr.-Greenleaf, Wis.) made eight tackles and Yaphay Harvey (So.-Milwaukee, Wis.) added six tackles. The Muskies forced three turnovers, including a fumble recovery by Evan Dieringer (Sr.-Germantown, Wis.) and an interception by Bruce Romagnoli (Sr.-Iron Mountain, Mich.) in the fourth quarter deep in Warrior territory to stop a WLC drive.
Stodola caught seven passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns to lead Wisconsin Lutheran, which gained 317 yards of offense. Shaw completed 11 of 21 passes for 203 yards and three touchdowns as well as two interceptions, while Donavin Tucker led the Warriors on the ground with 16 carries for 55 yards.
The Muskies return home next weekend to face Rockford (Ill.) College on Homecoming at Taylor Field at 1 p.m.