It’s one game down and two to go for the Central Lakes College Raiders in their quest for the MCAC state football championship.
The Raiders advanced to the semifinals with a 21-0 shutout performance over Minnesota West in the quarterfinals Saturday afternoon.
Anthony Shelman scored twice on throws from Andrew Johnson, and the Raiders received a punt return for a touchdown from Matt Mogere.
Defensively, CLC played outstanding football for the second week in a row, and the Raiders are peaking at the right time.
“Our defense played phenomenal today but our offense had a good day too,” said CLC head coach Greg Medeck. “I haven’t looked at the stats, but just walking off the field today I feel like we were successful in all aspects of the game.”
Co-captain Jared Hoemberg intercepted two passes and caused a fumble on a first-quarter punt.
“Last week was a wonderful job holding a team that averaged 200 yards to 30 yards rushing,” Hoemberg said of last week’s final regular-season win against Ridgewater. “This week we were just phenomenal and are peaking at the right time and we are all coming together right now.”
The Raiders held the Blue Jays to negative 29 yards rushing, and 167 total yards for the game. They also intercepted Minnesota West quarterbacks four times and registered 12 sacks.
Sack leaders for the Raiders were Peter Stenger and Erik Chouinard, who each had three.
“It’s been two weeks in a row. This was just a carryover from our defense last week,” said Medeck. “We gave up seven points at the end of the game, but we had 59 1/2 minutes of shutout football and it was a carryover to today. Defensively, we are certainly peaking at the right time and hope we can carry it over to next week.”
Minnesota West almost had the first points of the game Saturday as the Blue Jays returned the opening kickoff to the end zone. However, a block in the back brought the ball back to the Blue Jays’ 9-yard line and CLC forced a three and out.
The Raiders scored their first touchdown at 10:09 of the first quarter on their first possession. On fourth and 15, Johnson found Shelman in the middle of the field and CLC led 7-0.
Johnson finished 11 of 27 for 180 yards with no interceptions. Shelman caught the two touchdown passes for 58 yards. Blake Petrich led CLC receivers with three catches for 64 yards.
Early in the second quarter, the Raiders forced the Blue Jays to punt from their end zone. Mogere gathered in the ball, and returned it along the left sideline for a touchdown and a 14-0 Raiders lead at halftime.
Johnson and Shelman connected again on CLC’s second possession of the second half. With the ball at the Blue Jays’ 45, Shelman caught a scoring pass from Johnson, who was under duress as he threw. Shelman sprinted the last 10 yards to the end zone for a 21-0 lead.
The Raiders’ defense took over and prevented the Blue Jays’ offense from getting back into the game. The Blue Jays did make some bigger plays in the second half after making changing quarterbacks, to Calvin Davidson, but they were unable to scored.
With the win, the Raiders can look ahead to the semifinals next Saturday afternoon. They will host Northland, which defeated Itasca 22-7.
“It’s a special group of kids. We have had a lot of success and a lot of hard work over the course of two years,” said Medeck this team. “Those guys have determined goals and are working hard for them.
“We played very good football against a team that was really prepared. I give them a lot of credit for their preparation and throwing in a lot of new wrinkles.”
Hoemberg still has a sour taste in his mouth for how the 2011 regular season ended with a 26-14 loss to Ridgewater.
“It’s huge for us today, especially coming off the Ridgewater loss last year,” he said. “Losing that game was a really big part of my two years here, but we are really enjoying this moment and taking it in, because last year was a pretty hard ending.”
Minnesota West 0 0 0 0 — 0
Central Lakes 7 7 7 0 — 21
CLC: Anthony Shelman 15 pass from Andrew Johnson (Andrew Leonhardt kick) 10:09
CLC: Matt Mogere 45 punt return (Leonhardt kick) 10:36
CLC: Shelman 43 pass from Johnson (Leonhardt kick) 9:01
Rushing, Att-Yds: CLC 45-104, MW 28-(-29)
Passing, Att-Comp-Int-Yds: CLC 11-27-0-180, MW 10-25-4-196
Total Yards: CLC 284, MW 167
Rushing: CLC-Beau Bellmore 24-89, Sean Nokken 8-16; MW-Enoch Smith 4-6
Passing: CLC-Johnson 11-27-0-180; MW-Davidson 4-11-2-102, Logan Massop 6-14-2-94
Receiving: CLC-Blake Petrich 3-64, Shelman 2-58, Carson Wessinger 2-23, Brandon Kiel 1-26, Paul Lake 1-8, Nokken 1-(6); MW-Davidson 3-43. D’lorian Jordan 2-37.