by Scott DCamp
Northland Community & Technical College won a back-and-forth contest 27-26 over visiting Minnesota West Community & Technical College Saturday at Swenson Field in Thief River Falls.
“It was a tough, hard-fought game on both sides,” said Northland Head Coach Jeremy Richardson. “We battled back and forth. Both teams had some turnovers. We found out some things that they couldn’t do in the game that played into our favor.”
It became apparent early on that Minnesota West did not have a kicking game. The Blue Jays were forced to go for two following every touchdown and, perhaps more importantly, pass up short field goal opportunities on fourth down.
“It worked well in our favor,” Richardson said. “They had a few times where they went for it on fourth down in field goal range and didn’t convert.
The Blue Jays opened the scoring with an eight-play, 70-yard drive in the first quarter that culminated with an Andrew Ortiz to Tyler Linder 18-yard touchdown pass. It was one of three touchdown passes on the day for Ortiz, who completed 9-of-21 passes for 173 yards and an interception.
Trailing 6-0 after one quarter, the Pioneers tied the game on a one-yard run by Trenod Desrosier. Rashidi Kikopa’s extra point was no good and the game remained tied 6-6. Northland took its first lead later in the second quarter on a 19-yard touchdown reception by Desrosier from quarterback Zacharie Georges. It was Georges’ first game back after missing most of the week three game against Rochester and all of the Dakota College and Minnesota State – Fergus Falls game due to a concussion.
In his return game, Georges completed an efficient 10-of-14 passes for 27 yards and a touchdown. He split reps with Jihad Abdual-Haqq, who went 5-for-12, for 54 yards. “This was Zach’s first game back from the concussion,” Richardson said.
“I wanted to get him some reps. Zach took advantage of his opportunities and the guys rallied around him.” Richardson said he plans to continue giving both quarterbacks reps in practice and he plans to play both quarterbacks Saturday against North Dakota State College of Science.
Northland led 12-6 at the break, but Minnesota West’s potent offense started putting things together in the third quarter with three scoring drives.
The Blue Jays scored on drives of three plays-16 yards, and four plays-39 yards to take a 20-12 lead.
The Pioneers answered with a five-play, 68-yard drive that ended with a 13-yard Raphael Bell touchdown run. Georges passed to Disla for the two-point conversion to tie the game 20-20.
Minnesota West regained the lead 26-20 on a six-play, 63-yard drive that concluded with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Ortiz to Gentaris Oliver. Ortiz’s pass for two fell incomplete and the Blue Jay’s lead stood at six points.
Northland took the lead midway through the fourth quarter on a two-yard touchdown run by Bell to cap a five-play, 32-yard drive. Rashidi Kikopa added the go-ahead extra point to make it 27-26 in favor of the Pioneers.
From there, the Northland defense clamped down on Minnesota West’s high powered offense.
“Defensively, we played a solid game,” Richardson said. “To only give up 26 points in today’s game is good defensive outing. I want to give credit to the entire team. The whole week of practice was very good. We have a small team and limited guys. Right now, we put together back-to-back games that we can build on moving forward. Now we hope to ride this going forward this weekend against North Dakota State College of Science.”
Scoring 1 2 3 4 T
MN West……………6 0 20 0 – 26
Northland…………..0 12 8 7 – 27
MN West – Tyler Linder 18-yard pass from Andrew Ortiz (kick failed)
Northland – Trenod Desrosier 1-yard run (kick failed)
Northland – Desrosier 19-yard pass from Zacharie Georges (kick failed)
MN West – Di’Mond Brooks 4-yard run (Tyler Linder pass from Ortiz)
MN West – Terryon Bumps 6-yard pass from Ortiz (pass failed)
Northland – Raphael Bell 13-yard run (Angel Disla pass from Georges)
MN West – Gentaris Oliver 2-yard pass from Ortiz (pass failed)
Northland – Bell 2-yard run (Rashidi Kikopa kick)
■ First downs – MN West 11; Northland 14.
■ Fumbles (total-lost) – MN West 0-0; Northland 0-0.
■ Penalties (number-yards) – MN West 11-93; Northland 7-65.
■ Punts (number-average) – MN West 2-26.0; Northland 3-33.
■ Rushing (attempts-yards) – MN West 37-99; Northland 31-106.
■ Passing – MN West 9-for-21, 173 yards, 1 interception; Northland 15-for-26, 81 yards, 1 interception.
■ Total plays/yards – MN West 58-272; Northland 57-187.
■ Rushing – (MN West) Di’Mond Brooks 8-52, 1 touchdown; Dalton Wagner 6-43; (Northland) Raphael Bell 17-56, touchdown; Trenod Desrosier 8-36, touchdown.
■ Passing – (MN West) Andrew Ortiz 9-for-21, 173 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception; (Northland) Zacharie Georges 10-for-14, 27 yards, 1 touchdown; Jihad Abdual-Haqq 5-for-12, 54 yards.
■ Receiving – (MN West) Gentaris Oliver 4-110, 1 touchdown; William Hamilton 1-23; (Northland) Walter Williams 3-36; Raphael Bell 3-30.
■ Tackles (UA/A) – (MN West) Cornell Washington 6-2; Xavier James 6/1; Henry White 5/0; (Northland) Quantay Person 8/6; Surprise Jarue 7/2; Brandon Brown 4/2; Keidre Taylor 3/0.
■ Sacks – (MN West) Brandon Wagner 1-9; (Northland) Brandon Brown 3-23; Quantay Person 1-8; Surprise Jarue 1-7; Ibrahim Kouyate 1-5. n Interceptions – (MN West) Xavier James 1-50; (Northland) Keidre Taylor 1-0.
Mesabi Range 3-0 5-0 6
Itasca 1-1 4-1 5
Rochester 2-1 4-1 6
Central Lakes 1-2 2-3 3
Fond du Lac 1-1 3-2 4
Vermilion 0-3 0-5 0
NDSCS 2-0 4-1 6
Northland 2-1 3-3 5
Minnesota West 1-1 3-2 4
Dakota College 1-1 1-4 2
M State-Fergus 0-3 0-6 0
■ Saturday, Sept. 28 – Northland 27, Minnesota West 26; North Dakota State College of Science 51, M State-Fergus Falls 0; Itasca 65, Vermilion 12; Central Lakes 41, Fond du Lac 15. Upcoming
■ Saturday, Oct. 5 – Dakota College at Minnesota West, North Dakota State College of Science at Northland, Central Lakes at Itasca, Mesabi Range at Vermilion, Fond du Lac at Rochester.