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The Lakeland football team captured its first outright Illini-Badger Football Conference Title since 1997, with a 20-13 win over the Greenville Panthers on Saturday, Nov. 5. It marks the second straight IBFC title for the Muskies, as they split last year's title with Aurora and Concordia, Wis.
"Our goals this year were to win the conference outright and than to make the NCAA Playoffs," said head coach Jim Zebrowski. "This is the next step in the progression of this program. Last season we tied for the conference title, this year we won it outright. This was a huge step for the program."
Zebrowski was extremely happy for the seniors on the team and also believes that this win will help to instill a winning tradition in the program.
"A lot of kids have had a lot of success in this program," said Zebrowski. "This accomplishment not only will help in recruiting but it will help with the kid's attitudes as well. We now have a group of juniors that have won a conference title two out of their three years here, sophomores have won a title both of their seasons, and the freshman have won an outright title. That just instills a winning attitude in these players. They want to win and they expect to win."
The Muskies came out fired up and received the ball to open the game. The Muskies drove down the field scoring on their first drive. Both defenses would then take over the game until the final six minutes.
"I thought the kids played exceptionally well," said Zebrowski. "I thought going into this game that Greenville was an exceptionally good team and they showed they were. We played really well early. We had a chance to go up by 14 or 21 in the first half but we couldn't finish some drives."
With six minutes remaining the Muskies scored to go up 14-0. Greenville drove down the field in under a minute and scored to make it a 14-7 game. Greenville attempted an on-side kick and the Muskies recovered the ball. Lakeland scored again with about two minutes left in the game, but missed the extra point putting them up 20-7. The Panthers once again scored in under a minute to make it a 20-13 game. Greenville again attempted an onside kick and this time they recovered the ball on the Muskies 40 yard line, however, the Lakeland defense held and the Panthers were unable to score again.
Junior Eric Royal caught two touchdown passes on the day for the Muskies.
The team has a bye week this week and will wait until Sunday, Nov. 13 to find out their opponent for the team's first ever NCAA Playoff game. The announcement will come at noon Central Standard Time live on the ESPNEWS channel.
"We will rest and recover now," said Zebrowski. "We will get as healthy as we can this next week leading into our playoff game. We will work on shoring up the things that we are making mistakes on and get ready for the next game."
The statistics were not available at the time of this release, please check back on Monday evening for a complete game recap.