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The Lakeland College football team struggled all-around in the second half, giving up 26 consecutive points as Carthage rallied to a 50-34 victory Saturday night in the Muskies final non-conference contest at Art Keller Field in Kenosha, Wis.
The Muskies (0-3) used a trio of big plays over 50 yards in the first half to take a 21-17 lead into halftime.
After Carthage (2-0) scored a touchdown on the first possession of the game, freshman Justin Laack (Sheboygan Falls) returned the ensuing kickoff 86 yards for his first touchdown as a Muskie and tied the game at 7-7.
Senior wide receiver Jacob Heinemeyer (Shiocton) caught a 63 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jake Dworak (DePere) to give Lakeland a 14-10 lead.
Trailing by three late in the first half, junior defensive back Bryan Groshek (Cudahy) picked off Carthage quarterback Evan Jones for the Muskies' first interception of the year and took it for 55 yards to the end zone as the Muskies entered halftime with a 21-17 lead.
Sophomore running back Jeremy Williams (Zion, Ill.) extended that lead after halftime, capping a 65 yard drive with a 12 yard touchdown on the ground as Lakeland pushed its lead to 28-17.
The Muskies struggled in the remainder of the third quarter to contain the Carthage spread offense as the Red Men surged back with 26 consecutive points off of four touchdowns in a 15 minute span.
Heinemeyer broke the Carthage streak with his second touchdown of the game to put Lakeland within nine, but a missed extra point and failed onside kick attempt ended any Lakeland hopes of a comeback.
"I'm proud of how we responded all around," Lakeland head coach Kevin Doherty said. "We played with pride and heart and if we keep playing this well the rest of the season we will be in good shape."
Heinemeyer led all offensive players with 88 receiving yards on four catches as the offense was held to just 217 total yards. Dworak struggled on the night, completing only 13 of 32 passes for 154 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
Tony Faller (Oostburg) stood out on defense with a team-high 12 tackles on the evening. Defensive lineman Tyree Curry (Pontiac, Mich.) recorded two sacks for a total of 26 yards as the unit finished with 10 total tackles for loss.
"The defense was on the field too long tonight," Doherty said. "In the first half when we ran a kick and interception back, those are good things, but the defense goes right back on the field. They played 91 plays tonight, and despite playing hard the entire game they started to wear down in the second half."
Jones threw for 446 total yards as the Carthage offense ended with a staggering 621 yards of total offense. Receiver Nick Merchut caught 12 passes for 187 yards and three touchdowns and Jeff Koenmann also caught 12 balls for 144 yards and a score.
After a bye this upcoming week, the Muskies open up the 2009 Northern Athletics Conference schedule on Saturday, October 3 with a road contest at Rockford. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.