College Football: Raiders need late-game heroics to capture 1st win
Central Lakes College hosts Rochester Saturday, Sept. 10
BRAINERD — Central Lakes College quarterback Matt Torres connected with wide receiver Jackson Owens in the back of the end zone for their third touchdown with 10 seconds left for the Raiders to knock off the Rochester Yellowjackets 29-23 Saturday, Sept. 10.
“I knew my O-line was going to give me time and I knew Jackson was going to be there,” Torres said. “I couldn’t be any more pleased with that play. It was a great play.”
Torres threw for 255 yards and three touchdowns and Owens finished with seven catches for 167 yards.
“I am super proud. These guys are excited for the victory but it wasn’t their focus,” head coach Greg Medeck said of the win. “They wanted improvement. They wanted to go about their business in a better, more purposeful way and it showed all week in our practice and preparation and our execution. It is a good football team that we just beat and we are thrilled for them.
“Jackson missed the majority of last season due to unfortunate circumstances but we knew what he was capable of. He has just been patient and has been waiting his turn and he and Matt have a great relationship and Matt did a great job putting the ball where Jackson could put a hand on it, but he is so dynamic. He is a difference and we are glad to have him in our program.”
Last Saturday, the Raiders yielded 550 yards of total offense while only gaining 79 offensively.
This week, the Raiders harassed Yellowjacket quarterbacks Sylas Christie and Jaylen Gardner, sacking them three times and intercepting them four times. One of those interceptions went for a 78 yard touchdown from Rashad Sherwood.
“Our secondary is really strong and they took away their (Rochester’s) ability to throw the ball,” Medeck said. “Brennan Bockel, who is a transfer from Rochester, ended up with two incredibly big plays. Ryan Edquist is the de facto head quarterback of the defense. He makes all the calls and adjustments and he had a big day. It was a collective effort but I was really impressed with our secondary today.”
The defense started out the game strong forcing Rochester into three and outs on the first two possessions and the Raider offense came through on their second possession with a four play, 72-yard drive culminating in a 55-yard scoring pass from Torres to Owens. The two-point conversion made it 8-0 Raiders.
Rochester drove into CLC territory early in the second quarter but Sherwood stepped in front of a Gardener throw at the Raiders 22-yard line and returned it 78 yards for a touchdown and the Raiders led 15-0.
The Raiders added another score 22 seconds later. Brennan Brockel’s first interception gave the Raiders the ball at Rochester’s 40-yard line. On the next play, Torres found Owens uncovered and got the ball to him for a 40-yard touchdown. The conversion run from Paul Meyer made it 23-0.
Momentum turned on the ensuing kickoff. The Raiders tried an onside kick with Gottwalt that failed and Rochester took over the ball in Raiders territory at the 43-yard line. LaQwan Sims, who ran 22 times for 122 yards for the game, capped off the five-play, 43-yard drive with a score and Rochester had tightened the game at 23-8 going into the half.
The Raiders defense gave up two scoring plays in the third quarter. One was an 8-yard pass from Sylas Christe to Preston Landeis to make it 23-16 and a run by Sims for his second score of the day to tie the game at 23.
Neither team could do much with the ball through the majority of the fourth quarter, but with 2:25 things turned CLC’s way.
The Raiders Ryan Edquist intercepted a Christe pass and returned the ball to the Rochester 45-yard line where he was hit out of bounds. An additional 15 yards for the penalty gave CLC the ball at the Yellowjacket 30-yard line.
An 11-yard run from Daryel Bell brought the ball to the 19-yard line and another scamper to the 8-yard line, which set up the game-winning score.
“I think our mindset was fixing the little things and executing,” Torres said. “Every day we worked extra and we had a completely different mindset from Week One. We had some injuries to our offensive lineman but the three backups stepped up and played great for us today.”
Owens added: “It feels great. There is nothing that compares to coming out here with your team and coaches and being able to execute on everything you put together in practice.
“We spent a lot of time harping on the little things and I think today a lot of those things came out. The offensive line had a big day today with only three backups and I think that was huge. And the coaches prepared us and got our strategy ready for today. As you can see it all worked out and I am pleased to have my quarterback back. It is going to be a great year.”