This was the kind of football game that offered something for everyone. You can pick your favorite highlight.
For one, the Central Lakes College Raiders earned their first South Division victory as they beat the Ridgewater Warriors 23-14 to snap a 4-game losing streak Saturday.
For another, at game time the temperature was hovering around the 80-degree mark, the sky was clear and fall colors surrounding the field made a perfect setting for football.
There was also the stellar Raider defensive effort that bent but never broke. CLC held Ridgewater to only six points until the game's final second. The defense used interceptions by Nathan Heim, Trevor Gross and Jeffrey Reddick along with a Heim fumble recovery in shutting down the Warriors.
There were the tandem efforts of Edward Word and Brandon Jones who keyed a CLC rush defense that held Ridgewater to just 45 yards on the ground in the first half. The dynamic duo also blew open offensive holes for Raider backs on numerous short yardage situations.
And, there was a dramatic 60-yard punt return off a reverse by Raider Malcolm Harmon. Harmon's parents had driven from Indiana to watch their son so he was hoping for a big run back. And, he delivered.
All in all this game was one of those storybook kind of home games. Never mind that instead of a band, music was provided by a blaring audio system. Forget, too, that instead of a big drum or canon explosion to announce home-team touchdowns, big plays seemed to be synchronized with the sound of the alarm system from a Ford van malfunctioning in the parking lot. The owner, and the van, disappeared at halftime.
The game's first score was set up by the 55-yard punt return of Raider Trevor Gross. A short drive was climaxed by a Scott Imgrund 1-yard plunge into the end zone followed by a Phillip Shogren point-after kick that gave CLC a 7-0 lead at the 7:37 mark of the first quarter.
The second Warrior possession again started with a punt. Matt Yde fielded the punt and handed off to Harmon on the reverse. Harmon scampered 60 yards to again set up the CLC offense with great field position. That possession was capped by a driving, 45-yard field goal by Shogren that increased the Raiders' lead to 10-0.
Ridgewater scored on a 40-yard Danny LaMott to Mike Portner pass for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Several times Ridgewater drove deep into Raider territory only to be turned away. The Raiders stopped Ridgewater twice on fourth down. Another drive was snuffed out by Heim's interception at the CLC eight yard line.
CLC opened the second half scoring when Imgrund punctuated a Raider drive with a 1-yard plunge into the end zone. That lead grew to 23-7 when Matt Peterson scored on a 5-yard touchdown run. The touchdown came two plays after Heim's fumble recovery at the Ridgewater 7, his second big takeaway.
"One play before the interception," said Heim, "Ridgewater ran the exact same play for a first down. When I saw the same formation I thought, 'I'm going to sit,' so I stayed in my coverage area and they came right at me.
"On the fumble, we had a blitz called and I got there right when the handoff happened. I hit him and the ball hopped right into my stomach, then the offense capitalized on it. That was awesome."
The game's final points came with less than one second left in the contest when the Warriors' Lucas Pohlmeier scored on a 15-yard run.
Raiders head coach Mike Degen likes the progress he's seeing in his Raiders and their chances for success the rest of the season.
"Ridgewater's been in the state championship game the last couple of years so this is a great win for us," said Degen. "We had an idea that we'd pick off two interceptions and we exceeded that. We had our best week of practice and that's where the game was won. These kids control their own destiny right now."
Ridgewater 0 7 0 7 -- 14
Central Lakes 10 0 7 6 -- 23
CLC-Matt Yde 1 run (Phillip Shogren kick), 7:37
CLC-Shogren 26 field goal, 1:54
R-Mike Portner 40 pass from Danny LaMott (Jed Nelson kick)
CLC-Scott Imgrund 1 run (Shogren kick) 0:27
CLC-Matt Peterson 5 run (kick blocked) 11:24
R-Lucas Pohlmeier 15 run (Nelson kick), 0:00.6
First downs -- CLC 13; R 14
Rushes-yards -- CLC 59-197; R 28-114
Pass comp-att-int-yards -- CLC 7-14-1-75; R 12-31-3-172
Total offense --CLC 272; R 286
Fumbles-lost -- CLC 0-0; R 1-1
Penalties-yards lost -- CLC 5-40; R 2-10
Rushing -- CLC Peterson 23-73, Imgrund 18-55, Yde 10-46, Phillip Rasset 5-12, Shogren 2-9; R Lucas Pohlmeier 9-50, Mike Williams 12-41, Danny LaMott 5-22
Passing -- CLC Yde 7-14-1-75 (0 TD); R LaMott 12-31-3-172 (1 TD)
Receiving -- CLC Matt Steffen 5-49, Shogren 1-32, Peterson 1- (6); R Mike Portner 9-50, Eric Steffl 2-32, Jeremiah Dahl 5-54
Conference -- CLC 1-1; R1-1. Overall -- CLC 2-4; R 4-2. Next game -- CLC at Fergus Falls 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
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