The Central Lakes College Raiders football team hadn't won at home since Oct. 16, 2001, a span of eight home games.
The Rainy River Voyageurs hadn't won on the road in 21 games.
Both teams had identical 0-2 records and were searching for its first win of the season.
The football gods had to choose one team or the other. They chose the Raiders, who used enough big plays to beat Rainy River 16-10 Saturday at Paul C. Findorff Athletic Complex.
CLC linebacker Derrick Fetters (45) brought down Rainy River Voyageur quarterback Jason Higley (8) in the Raiders' 16-10 win Saturday. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
"We've been waiting for the team to come together for five weeks and we finally did," CLC coach Dennis Eastman said. "It was the beginning of something new."
Although the Voyageurs outgained CLC 343-217 on offense, the Raiders used big plays at the right moments to squeak out the win.
Many of CLC's big plays came from speedy wide receiver Lynn Chheang, who caught four passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Chheang also had a 48-yard punt return late in the first quarter that helped set up Adam Johnson's 26-yard second quarter field goal.
The Raiders took the opening kickoff and marched 73 yards on 13 plays, culminating in a 17-yard Corey Londeree-to-Chheang touchdown pass. Londeree completed four of his nine passes on the drive and Brandon Hunter rushed for 31 yards.
"We knew we had to score right away and get on top of Rainy River," said Eastman. "We did well the first quarter. We made enough plays to win, not too many, but just enough."
CLC running back Brandon Hunter (84) tried to break free of the grasp of a Rainy River Voyageur defender in CLC's 16-10 win Saturday. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
Chheang struck again when he returned a punt 23 yards early in the fourth, but three plays later CLC was forced to punt. On the punt a Voyageur defender ran into the punter, giving CLC a first down at the Rainy River 45-yard line.
The very next play Londeree saw Chheang streaking down the sideline. The pass was under thrown but Chheang adjusted and made the catch. He then used his quick feet to evade five would-be tacklers and scamper into to the end zone for the touchdown.
"Corey just put the ball up in the air and I did whatever I needed to do to get it," Chheang said. "I just wanted to make sure I had the ball first. I moved around and tried to get to the open spaces to score."
The defense, employing a bend but don't break philosophy, made some of the biggest plays of the game for the Raiders.
With less than five minutes remaining in the game, Rainy River stuffed CLC on a fourth-and-inches to take over on the Raiders' 39-yard line.
Behind the hard running of Brandon Wright, who rushed for a game-high 113 yards on 22 carries, the Voyageurs got down to the CLC 7-yard line.
CLC 16, Rainy River 10
The key: CLC receiver Lynn Chheang caught two touchdowns and helped set up a field goal with a 48-yard punt return.
Next: at Mesabi Range, 1:30 p.m. Saturday
On third-and-goal from the two, CLC cornerback Ricky Valencia came up and made an open field tackle on Wright for a 1-yard loss. Then on fourth down, 6-foot-5 defensive end Skyler Wilk batted down a pass to end the scoring threat.
"We were playing goal line defense which left our secondary on their own," CLC defensive coordinator Lowell Scearcy said. "My main concern was the fade pattern. But they tried the slant and Skyler knocked the ball down. Our corner claims he had him covered but we'll have to look on the film."
With less than a minute left Rainy River had the ball on the CLC 38-yard line for one last chance at the win. Five plays later, backup corner Terry Furbur intercepted a tipped pass to end the game.
"The defense did bend but they didn't break," said Eastman. "They came up with the plays when we needed them. That's what a Scearcy defense does."
Rainy River 0 0 3 7 -- 10
Central Lakes 6 3 0 7 -- 16
CLC-Lynn Chheang 17 pass from Corey Londeree (kick failed) 8:34
CLC-Adam Johnson 26 field goal 14:42
RR-Kent Paulson 30 field goal 5:03
CLC-Chheang 45 pass from Londeree (Johnson kick) 12:37
RR-Chosnel Jean 23 pass from Jason Higley (Paulson kick) 9:49
Rushes-yards -- CLC 32-105, RR 34-168
Pass comp-att-int-yards -- CLC 9-15-1-112, RR 18-29-1-175
Total offense -- CLC 217, RR 343
Rushing -- CLC-Herbert Thompson 14-49, Brandon Hunter 9-29, Corey Londeree 5-35, Chris Ezebunna 2-1, Cody Wilking 1-1, LeRoy Howard 1-(-10); RR-Brandon Wright 22-113.
Passing -- CLC-Londeree 9-15-1-2-112; RR-Jason Higley 18-29-1-1-175.
Receiving -- CLC-Lynn Chheang 4-95, Howard 1-(-3), Wilking 2-7, Wyatt Carr 2-13; RR-Chosnel Jean 9-88.
Overall -- CLC 1-2, RR 0-3. Next game -- CLC at Mesabi Range 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
TROY GUNDERSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5865.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.