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RIVER FOREST, Ill. - Lakeland's defense struggled to contain Concordia University Chicago's offense, giving up 531 yards and a touchdown with 20 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter as the host Cougars defeated the Muskies, 35-32, in Northern Athletics Conference action Saturday afternoon.
Trailing 21-12 midway through the third quarter, Lakeland (2-4, 2-1 NAC) gained momentum when freshman defensive back Tony Faller (Oostburg) picked off CUC quarterback Mike Marotta's third-down pass along the Lakeland sideline and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown, pulling Lakeland within 21-19.
Concordia answered, driving 78 yards and scoring on a Jamal Thomas 41-yard run with two minutes in the third to put the Cougars' lead at 28-19.
The Cougars (2-4, 1-2) answered by driving 73 yards on 14 plays, including a conversion on a fourth-and-15 at the Lakeland 29-yard line as the Cougars recovered from a botched snap that left them with a second and 31. Marotta hit Mike Engebrecht with a 1-yard pass for the game winner, as CUC recorded its first win over
"That last drive, when they had that snap that went back to the 45 yard line that gave them second and very long, Concordia did a good job of spreading us out and ran a screen," said Lakeland head coach Kevin Doherty. "It was a good call, and they made a great catch on fourth down to get the first down. It took them every down in the drive to score, but they finally punched one in. I thought our kids did well, they were resilient at the end in stopping the run. Their quarterback has a good release, understands their offense well, their kids catch the ball well and get extra yards after the catch. That hurt us out in the perimeter and open field as far as making tackles."
"I liked that we fought until the end," said Doherty. "We never hung our heads, we never quit. On offense, our guys made some great plays. Heinemeyer made an outstanding catch towards the end to put us in position for our last score. Our running game started clicking in the second half, the kids were going until the whistle, not going down after the first hit.
"Overall, I was happy with how we fought back. We're a young team and getting better every week. We've got to learn from our mistakes this week and strap it up at home next week."