LISLE, Ill. - The Benedictine University football team moved to the brink of its second consecutive Northern Athletics Conference title by virtue of a 28-19 win over Lakeland College on Saturday afternoon.
The Benedictine defense held it own early on, denying two early Lakeland chances. Benedictine inadvertently touched a punt that enabled the visiting Muskies to start inside the redzone, but missed a 21-yard field goal wide left. A bad snap on a punt attempt on the next possession setup Lakeland at the Benedictine nine yardline but the defense held on a fourth down attempt.
The first score of the game came on the opening drive of the second quarter as Benedictine marched 96 yards on nine plays keyed by a pair of big plays after being backed up on a punt. Quarterback Matt Brown connected with Chris Schultz on a third and 20 for 51 yards to keep the drive moving. John Borsellino raced 25 yards to the endzone on the next play to hand the Eagles a 7-0 lead with 10:44 to play in the half.
Benedictine embarked on another long drive following a punt that backed the Eagles up to their own two, waltzing 98 yards on 13 plays. Aided by a pair of 15-yard penalties, Brown found Brandin Austin for a three-yard score with :23 remaining in the quarter to extend the advantage to 14-0.
A busy third quarter began with special teams issues continuing for Benedictine as Lakeland blocked a punt, leading to a touchdown. Dylan Van Straten connected with Justin Groenevald for a 12-yard score to take advantage with 6:30 to play in the third, pulling Lakeland within 14-6 after the extra point was blocked.
The Eagles immediately responded, stretching the advantage to two scores when Austin snared his second score of the game, reeling in a 10-yard pass from Brown.
Lakeland posted consecutive touchdowns to pull within 21-19 early in the fourth as Van Straten dove in from a yard and later hooked up with Groenevald again on a 15-yard strike with 9:34 left in the game, finishing a 12-play drive.
The final score of the afternoon occurred after Lakeland's squib kick was returned to the six yard line by Derek Hitt. Borsellino made quick work with a six-yard run to account for the final tally.
Lakeland (3-5, 3-2) controlled many of the statistical categories, outgaining Benedictine 365-306 in the contest with 246 yards coming on the ground.
Borsellino posted his third consecutive 100+ yard game, amassing 159 yards on 29 carries with a pair of touchdowns. Brown completed 8-of-16 passes for 136 yards and two TDs. Austin hauled in six passes for 45 yards and two TDs. Chris Buonavolanto led the defense with 14 tackles while Trent Altieri added 10.
Benedictine (6-2, 5-0) can secure a share of the conference title next week at Rockford in a 12:00 p.m. affair.