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A late second-quarter touchdown and a costly fumble late in the third quarter loomed large as visiting Concordia slipped past Lakeland, 30-18, Saturday to win the annual Cheese Bowl and take control in the Illini-Badger Football Conference.
With the win, Concordia improves to 5-0 in the IBFC, 8-0 overall. The Muskies (4-4) slip a game behind in the league standings at 4-1 with two games to play.
Late in the third quarter, trailing 14-12, the Muskies took over following a missed Concordia field goal. But Lakeland quarterback Brad Wilk and wide receiver MacArthur White misconnected on an end around and the Falcons recovered deep in Lakeland territory. Concordia took a 20-12 lead after an eight-yard touchdown pass from Justin Lewis to Jon Collier.
Lakeland went three and out on its next possession, then Concordia's Mike Steinmetz scored from 15 yards out to put Concordia up 28-12 with just under 10 minutes remaining.
"We tried a little razzle dazzle," said Lakeland head coach Jim Zebrowski. "Despite that, I think the game could have gone either way. I think they proved that they're a good team, and I think that we proved we're a good team."
Lakeland grabbed the momentum midway through the second quarter when Wilk connected with White on a 59-yard TD pass to tie the game at six midway through the second quarter (both teams missed extra-point kicks).
But Concordia grabbed that momentum back by scoring with 26 seconds left in the half, then turning a blocked extra-point kick into a two-point conversion to grab a 14-6 halftime lead.
Lakeland opened the second half with a 12-play, 73-yard drive, capped by a 1-yard score on a fade from Wilk to White. But the Muskies couldn't convert on the two-point attempt and Concordia held a 14-12 lead.
"It should be 6-6 at halftime, but then I thought we did a great job of coming out in the second half and scoring," Zebrowski said.
Concordia came in averaging 300 yards per game on the ground, but Lakeland's defense held them to 185 yards rushing and just 273 yards overall. Lakeland senior defensive back Aaron Barrie had a whopping 15 tackles including 11 solo, and sophomore John Wagner had 8.5 tackles.
All three of White's passes were touchdowns as he and Wilk were on target most of the game. Wilk finished 14 for 33 for 204 of Lakeland's 256 total yards and three TDs. He had two interceptions late when Lakeland was pressing to get back in the game. Royal caught three passes for 72 yards.
"We started the game trying to figure out if we could run the ball," Zebrowski said. "I think they kind of stopped the run game a little bit and I think we chucked it around really well.
"You bank on them turning the ball over at least once or twice and they never did. I wasn't disappointed at all with our effort, I'm just disappointed and I know our players are disappointed about losing the Cheese Bowl."
Lakeland returns to action Saturday at 1 p.m. at Concordia University of Chicago in River Forest, Ill.