Quarterback Andrew Johnson scored the winning touchdown with 14 seconds left, capping a 93-yard drive, as the Central Lakes College Raiders rallied for a 28-21 win over the Ridgewater Warriors in the final game of the regular season Saturday at Findorff Field.
With the win, CLC secured a share of the Southern Division title with Rochester and Minnesota West. Minnesota West stunned previously unbeaten Rochester 32-24 on Saturday. All three schools finished 3-1 in division play.
Johnson threw for 226 yards on 16 of 32 passing, but he was also intercepted three times, including a second-quarter pick that was returned 90 yards for a Warriors touchdown.
The Raiders’ offense came away with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter as CLC finished the regular season with a 7-1 overall record.
“It was a huge win for our team,” CLC head coach Greg Medeck said. “It was a really good, physical, college football game. There were a lot of mistakes, with I believe eight turnovers, but we were able to persevere and overcome.”
The Raiders’ Brandon Kiel caught six passes for 116 yards. He also completed 2 of 2 passes, one for a score.
CLC entered the game ranked 13th in the NJCAA poll, and scored first on a 1-yard run by Johnson.
Ridgewater responded with a 49-yard scamper by Martell Baker to tie the score at seven.
Keller Anderson then picked off a Johnson pass and returned it 90 yards for a 14-7 Warriors’ halftime lead.
Taz Seibert’s 2-yard score tied the game at 14 at the end of the third quarter, but the Warriors scored first in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard run by Roosevelt Austin.
Down by seven points, the Raiders’ defense stepped up and held Ridgewater off the scoreboard the rest of the quarter. Josh Mantel and Jake Kassulker each finished with eight tackles to lead CLC.
The Raiders’ offense responded by tying the game at 21 on a 4-yard pass from Kiel to Johnson. His run late in the quarter was the final score.
“Our defense got the fourth-quarter stop we needed and our offense got the game-winning drive we needed to come away with the victory,” Medeck said. “It was a total team effort.
“The ‘Axe’ (trophy) is ours again. Now we can look forward to the playoffs.”
The Raiders won their last four games after suffering their only loss, 48-21 against Rochester on Sept. 21.
Because of the head-to-head tie breaker, Rochester earned the South’s No. 1 seed, CLC is No. 2. The Raiders will host No. 3 Minnesota West at 1 p.m. next Saturday in the MCAC state quarterfinals.
CLC beat Minnesota West 50-39 during the regular season. In that game at CLC on Oct. 5, Minnesota West led 27-7 before the Raiders came back in the second half.
Ridgewater 0 14 0 7 — 21
Central Lakes 0 7 7 14 — 28
CLC-Andrew Johnson 1 run (Jack Çorbett kick)
RW-Martell Baker 49 run (Michells Algarate kick)
RW-Keller Anderson 90 interception return (Algarate kick)
CLC-Taz Seibert 2 run (Corbett kick)
RW-Roosevelt Austin 1 run (Algarate kick)
CLC-Johnson 4 pass from Brandon Kiel (Corbett kick)
CLC-Johnson 3 run (Corbett kick)
Rushes-yards: R 45-226, CLC 33-84
Pass comp-att-int-yds: R 4-13-1-30, CLC 18-34-3-255
Total offense: R 256, CLC 339
Rushing: R-Baker 25-132, Austin 11-87; CLC-Seibert 8-38, Johnson 15-33
Passing: R-Tony Ayala 4-13-1-30; CLC-Johnson 16-32-3-226, Kiel 2-2-0-29
Receiving: R-Jorge Cabera 2-17, Kelvin Jones 1-13; CLC-Kiel 6-112, Sam Moriarty 4-60, Seibert 2-22, Wroblewski 2-21
Division: CLC 3-1. Overall: CLC 7-1. Next: Minnesota West at CLC in MCAC state quarterfinals 1 p.m. Saturday.