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Senior quarterback Ryan Maiuri hooked up with sophomore receiver MacArthur White for two touchdowns as they led the Lakeland football team to a 45-7 victory over the Benedictine University Eagles on a rain-soaked afternoon in Lisle, Ill.
Both touchdown strikes came in the Muskies' 24-point first quarter, along with a six yard TD run by Maiuri and a 26-yard field goal by freshman Dan Lucchesi.
"We scored 24 points really fast and then we get in that rain delay which kind of put a lull in the game," said head coach Jim Zebrowski. "I was disappointed that we couldn't put it away a little later. We kind of let them stay in it, I would have liked it if we'd have put them away a little quicker, but overall our kids played great. Our defense played well, and our running backs played well as well."
Then the rains came.
With 7:04 left in the second quarter, play was suspended and spectators forced to evacuate The Sports Complex at BU as heavy rains and severe lightning struck the area, causing an hour and 36 minute delay.
"The rain hurt us a little bit but I think we need to learn as an offensive unit to play through that," said Zebrowski. "It was kind of weird. Our kids are pretty easy going kids. Once we had lightning in the area we can't do anything about it, we can't cry about it so we just have to take it, move on and tell the kids that they need to be ready to go."
Lakeland started the scoring early in the game with a 21-yard pass from Maiuri to White in the back of the endzone.
"MacArthur (White) did a good job, he's coming around," said Zebrowksi. "He got two passes early and caught a big pass late. He is a special player; he is learning our offense; we're moving him around a little more, and I'm really excited about his play, and he's only a sophomore."
The Muskies got the ball right back when Jeremy Sisel recovered a fumble on the kickoff. Four plays later, Maiuri ran a quarterback option to the right side for a 6-yard touchdown run with 11:48 left in the first quarter.
The Muskies took a 21-0 lead on a three play 66-yard drive that was capped off with another Maiuri to White pass, this time for 19 yards.
"They were not really my touchdowns," said White. "The credit goes to all 11 guys out there. We wanted to come out and play hard. We got beat real bad last week and we just wanted to show everybody that we still got it. We played real good team ball."
With 34 seconds left in the first quarter, Lucchesi put the Muskies up 24-0.
After play resumed, neither offense scored again until the fourth quarter, when, with 10:41 left to play, freshman Brandon Erdman gained eight of his 128 yards on a touchdown run up the middle.
The Eagles got on the board in the fourth quarter when the Muskies muffed a punt and the Eagles recovered deep in Lakeland territory. The Eagles punched the ball into the end zone when freshman quarterback Rich Connelly, who came into the game midway through the third quarter, dove across the goal line on a quarterback sneak.
The Muskies replaced Maiuri with sophomore quarterback Brad Wilk late in the fourth quarter, and Wilk responded by connecting with freshman Matt Pawlyk for a 25-yard pass with 2:14 left to go in the game.
"Brad (Wilk) is a really great quarterback and I think he's been learning a lot watching Ryan play," said Zebrowski. "He's a little more of a thrower than Ryan is in term of a pure quarterback. We run a little more option with Ryan, but Brad is going to be a pretty darn good player."
On the ensuing kickoff sophomore Josh Schramm forced a fumble and freshman Brent Miller picked up the ball and ran it into the end zone making the score 45-7.
Lakeland's defense stymied the Eagle offense from the start, holding them to just 92 total yards, including only 34 yards rushing on 34 carries.
"It was a big game for our defense," said senior linebacker Ryan Van De Loo, who recorded five tackles including two sacks. "We needed a win after last week's game. Our offense started off strong in the first quarter and than all of a sudden came to a lull. It was key for our defense to keep them at zero."
Freshman linebacker John Wagner led the team with seven tackles, one for a loss.
The Muskies are back in action on Saturday, Oct. 1 against Eureka College on the Lakeland campus. Kickoff is scheduled for 1p.m.