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College Football: Northland denies CLC chance for title defense

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Central Lakes College’s quarterback Quentin Skinner looks downfield to throw the ball Saturday against the Northland Pioneers. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery and Video2 / 2

In a game of ebbs and flows and high emotion, the West No. 2 seed Northland Pioneers denied East No. 1 seed Central Lakes College a chance to defend their state title with a 32-21 win in the Semifinals of the MCAC state tournament Saturday at the Findorff Athletic Complex in Brainerd.

The Raiders' Nuke Crowell concluded his freshman season with two touchdowns and 154 yards rushing, but was taken from the field by ambulance after a crushing block on the game's final play.

Northland's Shannon Patrick, one of the highest-ranked passers in the country, threw three touchdowns, including the game winner with more than a minute left. Patrick finished with 433 yards passing.

"It was a challenging loss for us (Saturday)," said Raiders head coach Greg Medeck. "A lot of emotions wrapped up in that game with the swings back and forth, the end of the season, and the difficult injury to one of our key players on the last play of the game. Thankfully Nuke is going to be alright, we are extremely grateful for that good news.

"Unfortunately our season has to end a little short of where we had hoped."

Crowell opened the scoring on a 60-yard gallop to give the Raiders a 7-0 lead, but the Pioneers responded with a touchdown pass from Patrick to Dwayne Taylor and a 1-yard plunge from Dakari Highsmith to take a 14-7 lead late in the second quarter.

CLC's offense received the ball at their own 6-yard line right before halftime. A 28-yard strike from quarterback Quentin Skinner to Jordan Thompson down the sideline highlighted the drive.

Crowell finished off the drive with a 10-yard run with just 39 seconds left in the half for a 14-14 tie.

The only score of the third quarter came on a 66-yard strike from Skinner to Thompson and the Raiders took a 21-14 lead into the fourth quarter.

Northland answered when Patrick hit Kris King on 24-yard TD pass in the fourth, but CLC blocked the extra-point kick to maintain a 21-20 edge.

With 2:31 and the Raiders driving, CLC faced fourth down on Northland's 28. CLC tried for the first down and failed giving Northland the ball back

With 72 yards between Northland and the end zone, Patrick completed a long pass coupled with a Raider penalty to give the Pioneers the ball at CLC's 9

On a third and goal from the 4, Patrick connected with Highsmith to give Northland a 26-21 lead.

An interception return from Northland's Quan Priestly on CLC's next possession sealed the win.

"There are some tremendous young men in this program that made this season a terrific success, regardless of the outcome," said Medeck. "I am thankful to be surrounded by such a strong staff and wonderful young men."

Northland 6 8 0 18 — 32

Central Lakes 7 7 7 0 — 21

First quarter

CLC - Nuke Crowell 60 run (Antoine Akundu kick) 11:22

NCC - Dwayne Taylor 6 pass from Shannon Patrick (kick failed) 7:23

Second quarter

NCC - Dakari Highsmith 1 run (Malik Williams pass from Patrick) 7:57

CLC - Crowell 10 run (Akundu kick) :39

Third quarter

CLC - Jordan Thompson 66 pass from Quentin Skinner (Akundu kick) 11:44

Fourth quarter

NCC - Kris King 24 pass from Patrick (kick blocked) 9:09

NCC Highsmith 5 pass from Patrick (conversion failed) 1:08

NCC - Quan Priestly 58 interception return (kick failed) :39

Team statistics

Rushes-yards: N 19-28, CLC 41-208

Pass comp-att-int-yds: N 38-61-3-433, CLC 13-33-1-197

Total offense: N 461, CLC 405

Individual leaders

Rushing: CLC-Nuke Drowell 25-154, Chidozie Mbah 9-31, Quentin Skinner 5-21, Jakobi Jackson 1-3; N-Dakari Highsmith 4-17

Passing: CLC-Skinner 13-33-1-197; N-Shannon Patrick 38-61-3-433

Receiving: CLC-Jordan Thompson 4-111, Teshawn Kelly 3-27, Jackson 2-18, Yannick Dinga 2-15, Cameron Whitney 1-15, Will Peabody 1-11; N-Dwayne Taylor 5-122

Overall: CLC finishes 8-2.