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The Lakeland College football team's defense rose to the occasion for the second straight week and the Muskies celebrated Homecoming with their third straight win, a 32-9 thumping of Eureka College.
The Muskies improve to 3-3 on the season, 3-0 in Illini-Badger Football Conference play. Eureka drops to 1-4, 1-2 in the IBFC.
Junior linebacker John Wagner dominated the game early on, and classmate and fellow linebacker Stephan Johnson joined in the festivities as the two overwhelmed Eureka's offense with a combined 21 tackles and four quarterback sacks.
Wagner, who finished with eight tackles and two sacks, pounced on a punt blocked by junior linebacker Brent Miller with 4:59 left in the first quarter in the end zone for a touchdown to give Lakeland a 12-0 lead. It was one play after Wagner sacked Eureka QB Nick Lindsey for a 14-yard loss.
Johnson finished with 13 tackles and a pair of sacks, including three and a half tackles for a loss of 25 yards. Wagner had two tackles for a loss of 22 yards. Lakeland held Eureka to just 15 yards rushing, and junior defensive back Justin Medard had an interception that one play later led to a Lakeland touchdown.
"Our special teams got us going when Wagner blocked and recovered that punt," said Lakeland head coach Kevin Doherty. "Our defense did a great job of swarming to the ball. John and Steph played awesome today, and our defensive line did a great job of getting off blocks and making plays. Justin had a nice pick and our guys in the secondary really hit today."
Offensively, the Muskies had more yards on the ground (175) than through the air (166) for the first time this season. Senior running back Paul Resop had another solid day with 14 carries for 74 yards and a touchdown, while freshman Ben Lombardi added 59 yards on 12 carries.
Lakeland senior QB Brad Wilk was 11 of 23, throwing three touchdowns passes but also three interceptions. Senior wide receiver MacArthur White had four catches for 79 yards and a pair of TD catches.
Along with the turnovers, the Muskies were flagged for 11 penalties for 127 yards.
"Our running game continues to get better, minus our holding calls," Doherty said. "Usually when you hold it's in the passing game, but we're getting them in the running game and we've got to correct that. Our offensive had a great drive to start the game, and we caught the ball when we needed it.
"We were a little careless with the ball, and threw it up sometimes when we shouldn't have. We have got to sharpen up."
Lakeland, which is tied for first in the IBFC with Concordia, Wis., hosts MacMurray on Oct. 13 at 1 p.m.