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College Football: Raiders defeat Ironmen, advance to semifinal

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Central Lakes College’s Jordan Thompson catches the ball in the end zone Sunday against Vermilion during the MCAC state quarterfinals at the Findorff Athletic Complex in Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery and Video2 / 2

Nuke Crowell scored two rushing touchdowns, and the No. 1 seeded Central Lakes College Raiders (9-1) played through cold and wet conditions to defeat the No. 4 seed Vermilion Ironmen 24-8 in the MCAC state quarterfinals Sunday at the Findorff Athletic Complex in Brainerd.

Crowell rushed for 123 yards on 25 carries and his teammate Chidozie Mbah finished with 80 yards on 18 carries. The Raiders rushed for 189 yards on a day when ball control and field condition were key.

Back on Sept.16, the Ironmen tested the Raiders with CLC coming away with the 10-8 win. Head coach Greg Medeck knew his team faced a challenge in Sunday's game against the Ironmen (3-6).

"We played a fiery squad in Vermilion that gave us a lot of challenges a number of weeks ago when we played them the first time," he said. "We knew it was going to be a challenge again as they had a lot of athleticism, but we stuck to the game plan and executed well."

With a wet field from the snow falling earlier in the week, getting out to a lead was key and the Raiders did just that as Crowell finished off a nine-play 54-yard drive with a 2-yard plunge into the end zone at the 10:30 mark of the first quarter giving the Raiders a 7-0 lead.

Quarterback Quentin Skinner got it done through the air with a 7-yard strike to Jordan Thompson just at the end of the first quarter, and the Raiders took a 14-0 lead to the locker room at half-time.

"It was a great opportunity to breathe," Medeck said of the quick lead. "Our offense did a great job putting us up with two quick scores right away to give us some comfortability. We have a lot of confidence in our defense and with that we know that with a lead like (this) we can do what we want on both sides of the ball and I thought we did a good job of maintaining and extending that here in the fourth quarter."

Playing with the two-touchdown lead the Raiders defense, led by Matt Kallis with five tackles and Jordan Fields with two sacks, played bend but not break. They kept the Ironmen out of the end zone until Vermilion's Breon Jackson connected with Dejohntae Grant to cut the lead to 14-6 midway through the third quarter. It would be the only time Vermilion would reach the end zone, as CLC's defense turned the Ironmen over twice inside the 10-yard line after that.

The other two points for the Ironmen came on the ensuing Raiders' possession when a punt snap sailed high over punter Brendon Loch's head and out of the back of the end zone for a two-point safety.

Midway through the second half, the CLC defense suffered a big blow when defensive back DeAngelo Funches had to leave the game with an arm injury. The defense was able to play through it, and the offense was able to put together a six-play, 37-yard drive ending with Crowell's second touchdown of the day to give them a 24-8 lead with seconds left in the game.

"We weathered the variables whether it be the field conditions and some significant injuries," Medeck said of the Raiders effort. "The one to DeAngelo hurts us bad, but guys hung in there and we got the outcome we were looking for and an opportunity to advance."

CLC will host the winner of Sunday's NDSCS/Northland game in the state semifinal game next Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

Vermilion 0 0 8 0 — 8

Central Lakes 14 0 3 7 — 24

First quarter

CLC - Nuke Crowell 2 run (Antoine Akundu kick) 10:35

CLC - Jordan Thompson 7 pass from Quentin Skinner (Akundu kick) :53

Third quarter

CLC - Akundu 22 field goal 9:15

VCC - Dejohntae Grant 2 pass from Breon Jackson (kick blocked) 6:48

VCC - Safety on punt snap through the end zone 5:08

Fourth quarter

CLC - Crowell 4 run (Akundu kick) :18

Team statistics

Rushes-yards: V 18-10, CLC 52-189

Pass comp-att-int-yds: V 23-53-2-284, CLC 12-22-1-142

Total offense: V 71-294, CLC 74-331

Individual leaders

Rushing: CLC-Chidozie Mbah 18-80, Nuke Crowell 25-123, Jakobi Jackson 1-3; V-Dejohntae Grant 5-28

Passing: CLC-Quentin Skinner 12-22-1-142; V-Breon Jackson 18-45-2-206, Grant 5-8-0-78

Receiving: CLC-Mbah 2-24, Teshawn Kelly 2-15, Will Peabody 1-12, Jordan Thompson 3-43, Yannick Dinga 1-8,Taiveyon Victorian 2-22; V-Rasheed Cameron 5-91, DeReiko Meridy 6-81, Isaiah Meinen 6-79.

Overall: CLC 8-1. Next: East No. 1 CLC vs. West No. 2 Northland/West No. 3 NDSCS winner in MCAC state semifinals at high seed 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

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