One look at the score of Saturday's football game between the Central Lakes College Raiders and the Ridgewater Warriors and one might think it was a blowout.
Even though the Warriors (2-1 South Division, 6-2 overall) went on to win the contest 33-12, the game was closer than the score indicated and well-played by the underdog Raiders (0-2 division, 1-6 overall).
Twice, Ridgewater quarterback Neil Glein connected with wide receiver Evan Porttiin for long, back-breaking touchdowns on the first play after CLC punts.
Twice, the Raiders had the ball on the Ridgewater 2-yard line in the first quarter only to have penalties move them backward and settle for a Matt Smithknecht field goal.
"We were still in the game coming out in the third quarter," Raiders coach Mike Degen said. "You take away those big plays and all of a sudden it's a close ballgame. Things may have changed if we'd gotten that first touchdown instead of a field goal."
One of the big reasons the Raiders stayed close was the play of running back Shawn Thielbar.
The sophomore, who started the season at defensive back, carried the ball 21 times for 91 yards and caught two passes for 47 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown pass from quarterback David Schneider in the fourth quarter.
Thielbar also returned a second-quarter blocked extra point 90 yards for a safety to bring the Raiders within a point at 6-5. The Raiders blocked three extra points on the day.
"Shawn's a winner and he was doing a great job," Degen said. "It was almost a guaranteed four yards so we just kept giving him the ball. (Ridgewater) had two linebackers going right at him and he was still getting yards. At this time of year you want someone to control the ballgame. He can do it all."
But Ridgewater had too many weapons to contend with. Glein threw for three touchdowns and running back Josh Trees rushed for two more as the Warriors racked up 362 total yards.
CLC had its best day of the year offensively as it mixed in the pass with the run. Wide receiver Brandon Flanders made two acrobatic catches for 61 yards and Schneider threw for 150 yards while rushing for 68.
The Raiders' best drive came toward the end of the third quarter. Starting at its 20-yard line, CLC marched 67 yards in 19 plays to the Ridgewater 13, only to have Schneider's pass intercepted in the end zone.
But the Raiders also had 75 yards worth of penalties that hindered their budding offense and forced Degen to change his play calling.
"We had a few key penalties that kind of brought us back," Thielbar said, "otherwise we moved the ball really well. We just started too late. If we'd have moved the ball in the first half, like we did in the second half, it would've been a closer game."
Said Degen: "Anytime you get a penalty and you're first and 15, it forces you to do some things you normally wouldn't do."
Ridgewater 0 19 14 0 -- 33
Central Lakes College 3 2 0 7 -- 12
CLC -- Matt Smithknecht 23 field goal :59
R -- Jake Meixl 19 pass from Neil Glein (kick by Frank Mendoza blocked) 13:15
CLC -- Shawn Thielbar safety 13:15
R -- Evan Porttiin 46 pass from Glein (kick blocked) 10:40
R -- Josh Trees 17 run (Mendoza kick) 3:51
R -- Trees 5 run (kick blocked) 12:37
R -- Porttiin 44 pass from Glein (Pete Pierre-Louis run) 7:43
CLC -- Thielbar 43 pass from David Schneider (Smithknecht kick) 3:12
Rushes-yards -- R 43-205, CLC 43-142
Pass comp-att-int-yards -- R 6-11-0-157, CLC 7-19-2-150
Total offense -- R 362, CLC 292
Rushing -- R Pete Pierre-Louis 16-101; CLC Shawn Thielbar 21-91, David Schneider 12-68, Maurice Noethtich 4-1, Darnyl Lovejoy 4-1, Matt Yde 1-(-11), Brandon Flanders 1-(-8).
Passing -- R Neil Glein 6-11-0-157-3; CLC Schneider 7-16-1-150-1, Yde 0-3-1.
Receiving -- R Evan Porttiin 3-103; CLC Thielbar 2-47, Noethtich 1-3, Jorgen Hartje 1-14, Mark Steffen 1-25, Flanders 2-61.
Conference -- CLC 0-2, R 2-1. Overall -- CLC 1-6, R 6-2. Next game -- CLC vs. MN West at Worthington, 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
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