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Missed opportunities and ill-timed mistakes doomed the Lakeland College football team to a 35-21 loss to Carroll University Saturday at Taylor Field in the season opener for both teams.
Lakeland led 14-13 after one quarter, including a 70-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Jake Dworak to sophomore wide receiver Logan Hughley. But Carroll scored the next 16 points to take a 29-14 lead into the fourth quarter.
Dworak's second TD pass, a 14-yard strike to senior receiver Roberto Flores, cut the deficit to 29-21. Lakeland's defense forced a three-and-out on Carroll's ensuing drive, but the Muskies, driving with a chance to tie, were forced to punt.
Carroll, which had been chewing up the second-half clock by running the ball, wrapped up the win with a 70-yard TD pass from Chris Casper to Drew Volkman with 2:30 to play.
"We've got to be better on both sides of the ball in finishing what we've started," said Lakeland head coach Kevin Doherty. "Offensively, we had too many penalties in crucial situations, a couple drops and a couple missed assignments that would take us from a possible second-and-eight to a third-and-14. We have a couple of plays in the book for third and long, but we can't run that many of them in one game.
"Defensively, we would have them in third and long and be in a position to get them off the field, but we would have a breakdown at some point and give up a first down."
Carroll finished with 412 total yards, including 215 rushing, to 289 total yards for Lakeland. The Muskies had nine penalties for 65 yards, and converted just four of 15 third-down situations.
Dworak was 14 of 39 for 269 yards, two TDs and one interception. He moves to third on the Lakeland career TD list with 49, passing former Lakeland QB Brent Luebke's 48.
Hughley had three catches for 107 yards, and junior tight end Eric Zuelsdorf had four for 62. Sophomore running back Adam Miller had 44 rushing yards on 13 carries.
Junior Tony Faller led Lakeland's defense with 13 tackles including 10 solo and 4.5 tackles for loss. Senior Keith Woodson snared an interception.
Casper was 16 of 25 for Carroll with 197 yards, two TDs and one interception. Joe Beckstrand had 133 rushing yards on 22 carries.
The Muskies host Carthage College on Saturday, Sept. 11, at 1 p.m. at Taylor Field.
"We've got some younger players in some spots vacated by two- or three-year starters," Doherty said. "We might have panicked too much and lost our focus on assignments a bit. I thought our kids did respond to adversity, especially on offense. We have to shore up our mistakes and make sure we're playing error-free football."