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After a shocking loss last weekend, the
Last Saturday, the Muskies (2-4, 2-1) allowed Concordia Chicago to march 73 yards in 14 plays late in the fourth quarter, surrendering a one-yard touchdown with 20 seconds left to cap a gut-wrenching 35-32 setback to the Cougars.
"We thought we were prepared for them, so going in we had a good feeling and everything," said sophomore wide receiver Roberto Flores, who caught a 36-yard touchdown in the game. "In the locker room, everyone was down, everyone was shocked. We thought we were going to win, but I guess we underestimated them and they surprised us."
The defense surrendered 531 total yards of offense and five scoring drives of 73 or more yards in the defeat, the first to Concordia Chicago since 1994.
The game came one week after a complete, well-played 26-7 triumph at Wisconsin Lutheran.
"What we have to worry about is getting back to how we were playing two weeks ago against Wisconsin Lutheran when we were more effective on offense, defense and special teams," Lakeland head coach Kevin Doherty said. "We didn't really play a complete game last weekend, and it's really left a sour taste in the mouth of our program."
One aspect of the team that has emerged in recent weeks is the passing game. After the Muskies went down 21-6 late in the second quarter against Concordia Chicago, sophomore quarterback Jake Dworak and the offense nearly engineered a comeback. Dworak threw for three touchdowns in the game and put the Muskies ahead 32-28 with 4:55 left in the game with a one-yard touchdown run.
The Muskies rank second in the NAC in passing offense and third in passing efficiency, while senior wide receiver Matt Pawlyk leads the league in receptions and receiving yards per game.
"It starts with the offensive line giving enough protection for me to be able to pass the ball," Dworak said. "Also, our receivers are big, they're able to go up, have good hands and come down with the ball."
"The offensive line has been playing pretty well, blocking and giving Jake some time,"
The running game, which piled up 161 yards and an average of 5.2 yards per carry on Saturday, also seems to be progressing. Sophomore running back Ben Lombardi registered 110 yards on just 14 carries last week.
Now, players and coaches are hoping the special teams can also develop, and that a normally stout defense will return to its regular form.
"Last week, going in, it was one that we needed to win," Dworak said. "After the game, we thought it was just one that got away from us. It's something that shouldn't have happened, so hopefully this week we can make up for it."
The scouting report: Benedictine
Last Saturday, the Eagles posted their first win of the season, a 44-0 Homecoming triumph over Maranatha Baptist in Lisle,
Benedictine, which jumped out to a 37-0 halftime lead, piled up 389 yards of offense, including 217 on the ground. The defense surrendered just 49 rushing yards.
Doherty noted the talents of tailback Ryan Schwartz and wide receivers John and Joe Borsellino, who could give the Muskie defense problems due to their shiftiness and speed. John Borsellino leads the league with 176.2 all-purpose yards per game.
"Those little guys that can run have given us problems this year," Doherty said. "They're hard to get a hat on because they're shifty and explosive. So we've got to be able to tackle in the open field, get off our blocks and contain the run game."
Defensively, the Eagles present a bevy of talented players, including linebackers Alex Dewey and Devin Montgomery, and defensive lineman Eddie Hill. Hill, a converted linebacker, is tied for second in the conference in tackles for loss per game (1.42).
"Their linebackers are good players who we have to be aware of at all times, and Hill could give us some fits in pass-rush situations," Doherty said. "They return a couple guys who played last year against us, so they're going to be familiar with what we do and our personnel."
Last season, the Muskies defeated the Eagles 21-7 at Benedictine on Sept. 29, 2007.