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After winning back-to-back games to begin Northern Athletics Conference play, the Lakeland College football team will be playing for its first three game winning streak since 2009 this Saturday. The Muskies (2-3, 2-0 NAC) host Wisconsin Lutheran College at 1 p.m. for the college's homecoming game.
The Warriors (2-3, 1-1 NAC) are coming off a 29-17 loss to Concordia University Chicago. Wisconsin Lutheran totaled 372 yards of offense, 136 rushing and 236 passing. They were led by running back Jesse Muldrow, who rushed for 129 yards on 18 carries, scoring one touchdown. Quarterback Zach Shaw completed 16 of 31 passes for 236 yards with one touchdown and one interception while hitting six different receivers. Caleb Wolf had the most receptions with four for 39 yards, while Josh Stodola had had the most receiving yards with 61 on three catches. Fellow wide-out Matt Lopata added 52 yards on three catches and scored one touchdown.
In last year's 20-9 loss to the Wisconsin Lutheran, Lakeland was held to 97 yards of total offense, negative three rushing and 100 passing. The defense allowed the Warriors to gain 232 total yards of offense. The key matchup this week is the Warriors offensive line against the Muskies defensive line. "We have to be able to get penetration up front and get their running backs before they make their first cuts," said Lakeland defensive coordinator Colin Bruton.
With eight returnees on offense, the Warriors are the most complete team Lakeland has seen all year. "Everything starts with the run," Bruton said. "We need to stop the run and force their quarterback to make plays in the passing game. They have a dangerous play action game, and we need to stay fundamentally sound."
The Lakeland offense continued to make positive strides in its 32-0 victory over Rockford College last Saturday. The Muskies totaled a season-high 333 yards off offense, 116 rushing and 217 passing. Senior wide receiver Justin Groeneveld (Kingsford, Mich.) continued to show off his skills as he recorded five catches for 142 yards and three touchdowns, while sophomore QB Dylan Van Straten (Shiocton, Wis.) completed 10 of 19 passes for 217 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Freshmen running backs Kendrick Burks (Pontiac, Mich.) and Tarrel Jackson (Detroit, Mich.) led the Muskies rushing attack, rushing for a combined 95 yards on 26 carries and one TD each.
The key matchup on offense this Saturday is the Lakeland wide receivers against the secondary of the Warriors. "We have to be productive when we are forced to pass," Doherty said. "Our wide receivers need to catch the ball and make plays."
Lakeland offensive coordinator Peter Hahm is pleased with the offensive line's play in running schemes, and hopes for more of the same this weekend. "We need to continue to hold our blocks longer, especially against a smaller front," Hahm said.
Overall, the Muskies need to maintain their focus to remain unbeaten in NAC play. "It's Homecoming week, so we need to stay focused on the task at hand and play our game," said Doherty. "We need to focus on our game plan to have success."
To hear what Hahm has to say about the game, click here.
To hear what Bruton has to say about the game, click here.
To hear what Doherty has to say about the game, click here.