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AURORA, ILL. - Aurora (Ill.) University scored 35 points in the final 19 minutes and capitalized on four Lakeland College turnovers to defeat the Muskies 56-17 Saturday afternoon in a Northern Athletics Conference game.
The Spartans gained 709 yards of total offense and the Muskies were never able to catch up following the turnovers, dropping to 2-6 overall and 2-3 in the NAC. Aurora won the battle for position in the conference and improved to 4-4 overall and 3-2 in conference.
The Muskies turned the ball over three times in the first half, twice deep in Spartan territory. The Lakeland defense was able to hold up for a while before Aurora cashed in the third turnover, with backup quarterback Jace Koerner rushing six yards on a draw play with just 35 seconds left in the first half for a 21-3 halftime lead.
Lakeland took the second half kickoff and drove 67 yards in 11 plays, with Dylan Van Straten (Jr.-Shiocton, Wis.) scoring on the keeper from two yards out to make it 21-10 with the extra point by William Yelverton (Fr.-Oconomowoc, Wis.), who originally opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 27-yard field goal. The Muskie defense got one more stop but then caved in as Aurora scored touchdowns on five straight drives.
The Spartans took a 28-10 lead with 4:15 left in the third quarter when Jimmy Bevell hit Derek Powell on a 46-yard touchdown pass. Aurora then pulled away in the fourth quarter with a rushing touchdown by Brandon Trujillo and another passing score by Bevell, who threw four touchdown passes in the game. Koerner then added another rushing touchdown, a 34-yard run to make it 49-10 with 5:06 left in the game.
Norman Grinstead (Fr.-Taylor, Mich.) got Lakeland a second touchdown, finally breaking free after a number of long returns earlier this season. Grinstread received the kickoff following Koerner's second score and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown. The Spartans answered with their final score just one play later, though, as Jake Apple scored on a 90-yard touchdown to close the scoring.
Van Straten led the Muskie offense with 20 carries for 92 yards and completed 8 of 16 passes for 124 yards. Chris Jaskulski (Jr.-Greenfield, Wis.) was on the receiving end on six of those eight completions for a total of 82 yards. Lakeland gained 298 yards of offense and posted 20 first downs, only five less than the 25 by Aurora.
Cody Lemke (Jr.-Kewaskum, Wis.) led the Lakeland defense with 12 tackles and Yaphay Harvey (So.-Milwaukee, Wis.) added 11 tackles. Logan Christensen (Fr.-Gillett, Wis.) added his third interception of the season.
Bevell completed 20 of 32 passes for 375 yards to lead Aurora. Trujillo added 138 yards rushing on 19 carries.
Lakeland's schedule gets no easier next week when it faces unbeaten and NAC-leading Concordia University Chicago next Saturday at noon in River Forest, Ill.