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After collecting its first victory of the season last week, the Lakeland football team looks to tally its first road win of the year as the Muskies prepare to take on Wisconsin Lutheran College (2-2 overall, 1-0 NAC) in a Northern Athletics Conference showdown this Saturday at 1 p.m. in
Last Saturday, the Muskies (1-3, 1-0) picked up a 33-28 triumph over Rockford College in their inaugural NAC contest despite surrendering 22 unanswered points after taking a 33-6 lead into halftime. The Regents took advantage of an interception returned for a touchdown, a safety and two 96-yard scoring drives to nearly pull off an improbable comeback.
It took an interception by
"I don't think we changed our game plan in the second half,"
"Then some stuff snowballed a little bit, and we woke up there in the fourth quarter and prevented them from coming on in and making a comeback."
While it is easy to look at the failures of the second half, the fact is the Muskies played nearly flawless football in the first half. The running game, which had been struggling for most of the season, produced 154 yards for the game, while Muskie quarterback Jake Dworak (Denmark) tossed four touchdowns, all in the first half, with two of them going to senior wide receiver Matt Pawlyk (Marinette).
"We actually played pretty well, we were more dominant as a team, not so much as individuals," sophomore tight end Traves
Players and coaches are concerned, however, due to the second-half lapses not only of the last game, but of the contest prior to that on Sept. 20 against
"As a whole, I think we played excellent in the first half, but in the last two games, we let up in the second half a little and we were kind of sloppy," senior defensive lineman Mathew Stuebs said. "We need to concentrate on our [defensive] tackling mainly, but we also need to concentrate on … not letting up when we get up on a team, putting them down and finishing the game."
While Doherty admits there is no real solution to the meltdowns in the last two games, he said the team has to handle adversity better when opposing teams start to make plays.
"I think that period in the first five minutes of the third quarter is such a crucial time for the momentum, for the offense and defense to establish the same things we were doing in the first half," he added.
Offensively, the Muskies exploded in the first half, stringing together five touchdown drives in six first half possessions. In the second half, the Muskies faltered, giving up two turnovers, a safety and losing two drives on downs, allowing the Regents to creep back into the game.
"We kind of came out in the second half a little light-headed, not paying attention to what was coming up,"
Despite forcing a couple turnovers in the second half, the Muskie defense surrendered a pair of 96-yard touchdown drives. The Regents adjusted after
"They made some good halftime adjustments, and we ended up having to play a little nickel to fight with them," Stuebs said. "We had a lot of missed tackles on defense, that really hurt us, and we gave up two 96-yard drives. That's just really what it boiled down to, we just weren't executing and we had a couple penalties in the second half."
The scouting report:
Wisconsin Lutheran enters this week's contest following a 30-13 victory at Concordia Chicago last Saturday in
After trailing 6-3 at the half, the Warriors scored on their first three possessions of the second half on the way to a win going away. Sophomore running back Larry Hairl registered a career-high 187 yards on the ground on 31 carries.
Hairl is the NAC's leading rusher, averaging just under 104 yards per game and a whopping 6.5 yards per carry for a team that leads the league in total offense.
"Wisconsin Lutheran has a very good running game with Hairl, their tailback," Doherty said. "He's an exceptional runner - he runs real hard, has great vision, accelerates through the hole and doesn't stop on the first hit."
Doherty also pointed out the playmaking abilities of sophomore quarterback Josh McCormick and junior wide receiver Dominique Johnson.
"Their quarterback is very good - he can move around a lot, throw the ball downfield and he's got some nice targets to throw to," Doherty said. "Johnson, he's a real good receiver, he does a great job of running routes and making plays after he catches the ball."
Defensively, the Warriors run a 3-4 formation up front and are second in the conference in both scoring defense and total defense.
"Defensively, they can cause some problems," Doherty said. "They mix up their fronts and coverages extremely well and do a great job of putting pressure on the quarterback.
"We've got to be sharp with picking up blitzes and sustaining our drives, which means we've got to make the right throws, the right reads and make our catches."