The word desperation was not uttered by player or coach, but the importance of getting the first win was noted as the Central Lakes College Raiders Saturday, Sept. 18.

The Raiders notched their first win of the season in a grinding 27-23 win over Minnesota West

Andrew Kraemer secured one catch for 10 yards but it may have been the most important one of the day and his 54-yard kickoff return keyed a second-half touchdown.

Hunter Nissen, Joey Hoeschen, Aj Aguilo and Nick Korom led a Raiders defense that harassed Blue Jays Quarterback Willard Carl Holm all day, but Raiders fans had to cross their fingers for the last 1:53 of the game after CLC’s go-ahead touchdown before they could celebrate the first Raiders win of the season.

Head coach Greg Medeck and Nissen both said it was a frustrated Raiders defense that showed up for the first practice of the week after a 35-12 loss at Rochester and they carried that through to the match-up against Minnesota West.

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“We were pretty disappointed after the Rochester game and knew being 0-3 we needed to come up big,” Nissen said. “We worked really hard to prepare this week.”

The final stats showed that the Blue Jay quarterback was sacked three times for a negative 30 yards. The Raider defense put him on the ground and hurried him all afternoon.

Nissen was the unknown player in the first half as No. 12 was in the Blue Jay backfield consistently but no one knew who he was due to a uniform change before the game. But the Blue Jays certainly knew who he was.

“My first jersey number 42 was a little too big and I asked the coach the other day if I could get a smaller one so I wouldn’t get held so much,” Nissen said. “It’s better and I guess it’s the winning jersey now.”

Aguilo also made himself known with two quarterback sacks and Vito Richards who took an interception back for a touchdown.

“They were fired up and they were frustrated,” Medeck said. “That frustration boiled over a bit this week and led to an angry group. We tried to leverage that and we schemed this week to put Hunter in the right position and it paid off. He is a tremendous player.”

Trailing 23-20 late in the fourth quarter, Raiders quarterback Matt Torres led the Raiders on a final drive and Riley Niedzieski’s 1-yard plunge put the Raiders ahead. Kicker Vincent Torres came out for the crucial extra point and put the ball through the middle of the uprights for a four-point CLC lead.

The extra point was big because Minnesota West kicker Mike Peralta had connected for three field goals from 33, 22 and 39 yards.

On the second possession of the game Torres took the Raiders on a 10-play 66-yard drive, aided by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a 1-yard run from Bell Daryel gave the CLC a 7-0 lead.

After two field goals from Peralta, Richards stepped in front of a pass from Holm and returned it for a touchdown to give CLC a 14-6 lead. One more field goal from Peralta made it 14-9 at the half.

Minnesota West went up 16-14 early in the third quarter on a touchdown pass from Holm, but on the ensuing kickoff the Raiders Andrew Kraemer returned the kickoff 63 yards to set the Raiders up for a 20-yard connection from Landon Jones to Paul Meyer to put CLC up 20-16.

“I am so thrilled for Andrew. He has had some injuries and missed some time,” Medeck said. “It has been a challenge for him to get comfortable in his role and for him to have that impact today was rewarding for him and for me.”

The Raiders defense didn’t break late in the third and early in the fourth quarter, but the Blue Jays finally came through with a touchdown to make it 23-20 with 13:33 left.

“This win was huge, you don’t want to start the season 0-4 and now with this win it hopefully snowballs and we start going the right way,.” Nissen said.

Medeck added: “Our guys have worked so hard the last six weeks, all with the goal of having success and we have come up short and faced adversity along the way but they have continued to respond. We are thrilled to get over that hump.”

Minnesota West 0 9 7 7 — 23
Central Lakes College 7 7 6 7 — 27

First quarter
CLC - Daryel Bell 1 run (Vincent Torres kick) 2:34

Second quarter
MWest - Mike Peralta 33 kick 14:46
MWest - Peralta 22 kick 9:38
CLC - Vito Richards 53 interception return (Torres kick) 5:42
MWest - Peralta 39 kick :22

Third quarter
MWest - Derrick Spencer 3 pass from Willard Carl Holm (Peralta kick) 8:46
CLC - Paul Meyer 20 pass from Landon Jones (kick failed) 5:38

Fourth quarter
MWest - Tommy Lais 27 pass from Holm (Peralta kick) 13:33
CLC - Riley Niedzieski 1 run (Torres kick) 1:53

Team statistics
Rushes-yards: CLC 33-0, MWest 16-16,
Pass comp-att-int-yds: CLC 14-26-3-145, MWest 20-44-1-209,
Total offense: CLC 145, MWest 225

Individual leaders
Rushing: CLC-Anthony Richmond 10-46, Daryel Bell 4-18, Riley Niedzieski 2-8, Noah Foster 2-3; MWest-Rashard Anderson 9-22
Passing: CLC-Matt Torres 10-17-2-117, Landon Jones 4-8-1-28; MWest-Willard Carl Holm 20-44-1-209
Receiving: CLC-Tucker Schultz 3-51, Paul Meyer 3-47, Noah Foster 5-29, Jake Moe 1-12, Andrew Kremer 1-10; MWest-Ian Stamer 4-76
Overall: CLC 1-3. Next: CLC at Mesabi Range 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25.