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The Lakeland football team moved closer to clinching the team's first ever playoff appearance with a 68-14 victory over Concordia (Ill.) on a cold, rainy Saturday afternoon at Taylor Field.
Senior quarterback Ryan Maiuri threw for 197 yards and four touchdowns, while also rushing for 154 yards on 10 carries before exiting the game at halftime with Lakeland leading 48-0.
Senior tight end Jon Gilmore, who returned earlier this season from a knee injury, caught touchdown passes of eight and 16 yards for his first multi-touchdown game of his career.
"I don't think I'd have been able to come back from the injury without my teammates," Gilmore said. "When you have the support of everyone around you, it makes it a lot easier."
"In week four, (Gilmore) had a decision to make between redshirting or putting a brace on and playing," said head coach Jim Zebrowski. "It just shows how tough of a kid he is to decide to play and have a game like he did today."
The Muskies fought through a turnover laden first quarter behind their defense, who didn't allow a first down until midway through the third quarter.
"It's always good when you can fight through adversity like that," Gilmore said.
"Even though we turned the ball over, our defense kept (Concordia) from gaining momentum," said Zebrowski. "Since the Whitewater game, the defense has done a great job of not giving up big plays and controlling the line of scrimmage."
It wasn't only the defense that controlled the line of scrimmage, but the offense as well, racking up 541 rushing yards as a team in a game where steady footing was hard to come by on the wet field.
Freshman running back Brandon Erdman gained 129 yards on 13 carries, scoring once on the ground and once on a 37-yard screen pass from Maiuri. Fellow freshman back Shannon Fitzgerald added touchdown runs of 44 and 38 yards on his way to first 100-yard game of his career.
Freshmen John Wagner and Gary Clark led the team with six tackles apiece. Clark also added two sacks.
Lakeland now owns a 5-0 record in the IBFC and can clinch the conference's automatic playoff bid with a win next week against Aurora, which was the IBFC's representative in last year playoffs.
"We may be on top now, but we know that in order to get to the playoffs, we have to beat the teams that have been there before," Zebrowski said.