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The Lakeland College football team dug itself a big hole early and never recovered in a 20-9 loss at Wisconsin Lutheran on Saturday in Milwaukee.
The Muskies fall to 2-4 overall, 1-2 in the Northern Athletics Conference.
Lutheran (4-2, 2-1) took the early lead by capitalizing when Lakeland senior quarterback Jake Dworak fumbled at the Lutheran 10 yard line. Two plays later, the Warriors scored on a 5-yard touchdown run by Jesse Muldrow. After two field goals, Lutheran led 13-0 after one quarter. Lakeland had just 28 total yards in the first half.
The Muskies cut the lead to 13-6 on an Eric Zuelsdorf 38-yard touchdown catch. On their first drive of the fourth quarter, the Muskies' good fortune continued as a fumbled punt gave Lakeland good field position.
Lakeland cut the lead to 13-9 on a 39-yard field goal. But on the ensuing kickoff, the Warriors sealed the win with a 100-yard kickoff return by Pedro Hardy, a play which set a WLC school record.
Lakeland had a rough day offensively as they totaled just 97 yards of offense, minus-3 rushing and 100 passing. Junior running back Jeremy Williams had 14 carries for 52 yards, however, seven sacks cost the Muskies 44 yards of offense and ended several drives.
"The kick return completely turned the momentum of the game," Lakeland head coach Kevin Doherty said. "Our offense and our special teams need to get a lot better. We had a lot of chances today, but we failed to take advantage."
Defensively, Lakeland continued to play well, allowing just 11 first downs, and 232 yards of offense, 190 rushing and just 42 passing. The Muskies also continued their dominance on third down, allowing Lutheran to convert just 2 of 17 tries.
Sophomore linebacker Bruce Romagnoli continued his excellent play, leading the team in tackles for the third straight week with 11. Senior Will Baldwin added 10 tackles, including one for a loss.
Lakeland looks to stay in the hunt for the NAC title as it travels to preseason favorite Concordia University Chicago on Saturday, Oct. 23.