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Ready to shake off an opening week 40-17 loss against Central, Iowa, the Lakeland College football team looks for its first win of the season this Saturday as it heads to Cincinnati, Ohio, for a non-conference contest against Mount St. Joseph.
"I told the team after the Central game that they had nine hours to think about the game," Lakeland head coach Kevin Doherty said. "As soon as they went to bed and got up on Sunday, it was all about Mount St. Joseph."
The Muskies struggled to stop Central from completing big plays Saturday afternoon, giving up a 61-yard touchdown run to Zach Lackey, followed by a 47-yard rush on the next Central drive to set up a touchdown pass on the next play.
"We have to do a better job on defense of executing our game plan and making tackles," Doherty said. "A lot of tackles we missed last week were in crucial spots where we either could have held them for no yards and they ended up gaining five or six, or we could have stopped them after five or six yards and they ended up with a big play. We have to continue with that, and our secondary needs to be disciplined and not give up the big play."
Despite a lackluster rushing game that ended the day with negative 17 yards, quarterback Jake Dworak threw for 296 yards, including a touchdown each to starting wide receivers Jake Heinemeyer and Roberto Flores. In his first game as a starter, Flores caught a career-high 172 yards with eight receptions.
"Roberto did a great job of making some big plays," Doherty said. "He had a 56-yard touchdown that was a great catch where he took a good angle to elude the defender and get to the end zone. He also made a couple of catches that weren't great throws or great reads, but he still made the play when he needed to. I was happy to see him step up from where he was last year."
Mount St. Joseph opened with a 28-17 victory against in-state rival Wilmington. Running back Jake Davis rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown, while quarterback Nate Rawe rounded out the balanced Lion attack with 289 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns to leading receiver Derick Tabar.
Facing an opponent that can pick up big yards either on the ground or through the air, Doherty realizes his team needs to play solid defense and minimize errors.
"When you try to stop a team that is a balanced attack, you have to be sound and not make mistakes," said Doherty. "I don't think you can try to stop their run game or force them to throw, because when you're a balanced attack, you're comfortable in doing both. We just have to eliminate mistakes and eliminate the big play and I think we'll be OK on defense."
For starting defensive back Joey O'Brien, preparation and intensity this week will be crucial to shutting down Mount St. Joseph.
"We've watched a lot of film and need to play all four quarters this week," O'Brien said. "Last week against Central, we came out strong in the first quarter and only gave up three points, but we came apart before halftime. We need to play with emotion. If we come out and play with intensity, we have what it takes to stop their offense."