In another closely contested game, the Central Lakes College football team came out on the short end for the eighth time this season as the Fergus Falls Spartans blanked the Raiders 10-0 on a chilly Saturday afternoon.
Fergus Falls employed a no-huddle, pass-happy offense that churned out 426 total yards compared to CLC's 194. The Spartans threw the ball 52 times that produced 23 first downs.
By all accounts, the Spartans should have scored 40 points, but the CLC defense tightened its chin straps, forced four turnovers and stopped Fergus Falls five times on fourth down. Darnell Lovejoy had an interception and recovered a fumble while Jabalja Gussine and Chris Bramer each picked off a pass.
"We lost but I'm very happy with how the guys played," Raiders coach Mike Degen said. "Fergus Falls is a team that won the state championship a year ago, and had 12 players from last year back this year, so they're a very experienced team. Our defense just played excellent. This was the best overall game that we've played all year long."
The Raiders' best scoring opportunity came at the end of the first quarter. Starting from their own 35, the Raiders marched to the Fergus Falls 10 in 10 plays. The drive was highlighted by a 19-yard catch by Devin O'Reilly on third down. After back-to-back runs by quarterback David Schneider, and a Spartans face mask penalty, Schneider fumbled on a keeper to end the drive.
Fergus Falls then took the ball and drove 81 yards in 12 plays, with quarterback Ben Brimhall finding wide receiver Tomorrio Anderson, one of 10 Spartans to catch a pass, on a slant pass for a 3-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
The Spartans added to their lead just before halftime as they drove 36 yards in 14 plays, capped by a field goal to give them a 10-0 lead.
"Our game plan was to be in position to win the game in the fourth quarter," Degen said. "We did that. The defense won all their goals but the offense just couldn't score. It would've been a totally different game if we would've punched one in there at the end."
One reason the Raiders were able to keep the Spartans' offense at bay, was the punting of running back Shawn Thielbar. Besides rushing 20 times for 97 yards, Thielbar consistently pinned Fergus Falls deep in its territory with his high, booming punts, one of them a 50-yarder.
Even though CLC won only one game this year, and it was by forfeit, the coach's spirits remained high on the future of his program.
"I told the guys that our goal needs to be to bring back freshmen and not go out and try and recruit superstars," Degen said. "If we bring back 17-20 players next year, I don't care if we're coming off an 0-8 season, we'll win a lot of football games. We're right there with the playoff teams but we just need to get over the top."
Fergus Falls 0 10 0 0 -- 10
Central Lakes 0 0 0 0 -- 0
FF -- Tomorrio Anderson 3 pass from Ben Brimhall (Drackson kick) 10:16
FF -- Drackson 27 field goal :25
Rushes-yards -- CLC 42-128; FF 50-205.
Pass comp-att-int-yards -- CLC 4-20-66; FF 23-52-3-221.
Total offense -- CLC 194; FF 426
Rushing -- CLC Shawn Thielbar 20-97, David Schneider 12-40, Maurice Noethtich 2-1, Devin O'Reilly 6-(-6), Mark Steffen 2-(-5); FF Daryl Hall 23-117.
Passing -- CLC Schneider 3-12-41, Steffen 1-8-25; FF Brimhall 17-32-1-152.
Receiving -- CLC Thielbar 2-37, O'Reilly 1-19, Steffen 1-10; FF Anderson 7-55.
Conference -- CLC 0-4. Overall -- CLC finishes 1-8.
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