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Missed opportunities haunted the Lakeland College football team as Carthage scored late to escape with a 21-14 win in the Muskies' 2006 home opener at Taylor Field on Saturday afternoon.
After surviving two Lakeland drives in the fourth quarter, Carthage (2-0) went on an 11-play scoring drive, capped by a 8-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brennan O'Boyle to fullback Greg Spencer to give the Red Men the lead with just nine seconds to play.
With the game tied at 14, the Muskies had two promising drives stall in the fourth quarter, including one early in the period that saw Lakeland get to Carthage 's 14 yard line. Junior quarterback Brad Wilk couldn't connect with freshman receiver Isiah Calhoun on a fourth-down pass play.
Lakeland (0-2) got to the Carthage 35 with just under 4 minutes to play, but a Wilk fourth-down pass to MacArthur White went for one yard and the Muskies needed five for a first down.
"We put ourselves in a position to be successful especially in that fourth quarter," said Lakeland head coach Jim Zebrowski. "We had two opportunities in the red zone and just missed both of them. I was happy with that, but we left a lot of points on the field and that's what's tough."
Carthage got on the board first midway through the first quarter with an eight-play drive for 56 yards capped by a two-yard touchdown run by halfback Tyson Mengel.
Lakeland answered early in the second quarter, driving 63 yards in just three plays. Junior running back Shawn Lee escaped three Carthage defenders at the five yard line to complete a 39-yard TD run.
But Carthage grabbed a 14-7 lead just before the half, as Brandon Fax picked off a Wilk pass and the Red Men went 43 yards in nine plays, with a one-yard run by quarterback Brennan O'Boyle giving the visitors the edge at halftime.
The Muskies tied the game at 14 with 8:32 left in the third as sophomore fullback Brent Woodruff scored on a five-yard TD run.
Lee paced a good day rushing attack for the Muskies with 75 yards, while Wilk added 40 yards rushing on nine carries. Wilk completed eight of his 22 pass attempts for 144 yards and two interceptions. White caught four passes for 43 yards.
Lakeland had 327 total yards to 305 by Carthage , with 183 of those yards on the ground.
"I love playing Carthage and I think they enjoy playing us," Zebrowski said. "It's always a good physical, tough game and it's good for both us to prepare for conference play.
"Am I disappointed with the loss? Yes. Discouraged? No. We bounced back from penalties and sustained drives this week. That was the best we've played offensively against them in the last three years. We protected exceptionally well and ran the ball well."
It doesn't get easier for the Muskies, who host UW-Oshkosh Saturday, Sept. 16, at 1 p.m. at Taylor Field.