WILLMAR — Trick or treat came early for the Central Lakes College Raiders.
The state’s top-ranked Raiders tricked Ridgewater quarterbacks into throwing five interceptions and CLC recovered a fumble to set up its first score in Saturday’s 27-7 South Division victory.
The win gave the Raiders the No. 1 seed in the Minnesota College Athletic Conference playoffs, which begin Oct. 20.
Along with the six turnovers, CLC’s defense held Ridgewater to 193 yards of offense with just 39 of those coming on the ground. The Raiders’ defense also tallied six sacks. Celestino White and Brandon Tulenchik each recorded two.
Jordan Bialke led the Raiders with 13 tackles, but it was Marion Lambright, who stole the show with the fumble recovery and two interceptions.
“It was a dominating performance defensively with five interceptions and one fumble recovery,” said Raiders head coach Greg Medeck. “We held a team that was averaging more than 200 yards a game rushing to just 39 yards. The shutout performance lasted until the last play of the game when Ridgewater finally scored.”
Lambright recovered the fumble in the first quarter near midfield and returned it 13 yards. CLC quarterback Andrew Johnson then hit Matthew Scott on a 49-yard touchdown pass for a 6-0 Raiders lead.
Johnson passed for 226 yards and three touchdowns. He hit on 18-of-30 attempts. His top target was Paul Lake, who caught Johnson’s second touchdown pass leading to a 20-0 Raider lead.
Johnson found Anthony Shelman in the fourth quarter for the team’s final score.
Beau Bellmore, who finished with 62 yards on 18 carries scored CLC’s second quarter score helping the Raiders to a 12-0 halftime edge.
“Beau had a physical day running the ball and was extremely effective,” said Medeck. “Andrew threw three touchdowns and made a number of big plays with his legs to lead us offensively. It was one of the best performances of the year by our offensive line, who have been very consistent all season.”
Johnson also rushed for 29 yards on 12 carries and Sean Nokken carried the ball nine times for 27 yards.
“We had a great week of practice,” said Johnson. “We were focused all week and (Saturday) we executed. We had the motivation of getting the Axe back and winning home-field advantage (in the playoffs). It helps when you’re defense shuts them out and I think there was a little revenge. They ended our season last year and we didn’t get to the playoffs.”
The Raiders did make the playoffs this season. CLC earned the No. 1 seed and will host Minnesota West 1 p.m. Oct. 20.
“This was a huge win for our program,” said Medeck. “It was one of our better, more complete games as we really played well on offense and defense. We won the MCAC Southern Division championship outright and secured home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this group and the resiliency they have continued to show over the course of the season.”
Central Lakes 6 6 8 7 — 27
Ridgewater 0 0 0 7 — 7
CLC-Matthew Scott 49 pass from Andrew Johnson (kick failed)
CLC-Beau Bellmore 6 run (kick failed)
CLC-Paul Lake 28 pass from Johnson (Scott pass from Johnson good)
CLC-Anthony Shelman 15 pass from Johnson (Andrew Leonhardt kick)
R-Justin Frank 9 pass from Wesley Oswald (Matt Malek-Zadengan kick)
Rushes-yards: CLC 41-118, R 33-39
Pass comp-att-int-yds: CLC 18-30-1-226, R 11-31-5-64
Total offense: CLC 71-344, R 64-193
Rushing: CLC-Beau Bellmore 18-72, Andrew Johnson 12-69, Sean Nokken 9-38, Skyler Shearer 1-0
Passing: CLC-Johnson 18-30-226
Receiving: CLC-Paul Lake 5-55, Matthew Scot 1-49, Carson Wessinger 4-45, Anthony Shelman 3-45, Blake Petrich 2-33, Beau Bellmore 3-(-1)
Conference: CLC 4-0. Overall: CLC 7-1. Next: No. 1 seeded Central Lakes hosts No. 4 seeded Minnesota West in MCAC state quarterfinals 1 p.m. Saturday.