The 2017 football season in the Minnesota College Athletic Conference kicked off on Saturday, September 2, with a full slate of six MCAC contests.
In Grand Rapids, the visiting Lumberjacks of Dakota College-Bottineau defeated Itasca Community College, 40 to 19, spoiling the debut of first-year head coach Weldon Braxton. Dakota College, who went 4-5 in 2016, but was 3-1 at home, rushed for 207 yards on the day, led by Elijah Todd. Defensively, DCB was led by Fabian Gordon with 9 tackles, and also saw Lumberjack Anthony Valcarcel turn in a strong performance with 2.5 sacks. Itasca's secondary held Dakota College to only 7 total receptions, but conceded 207 yards on the ground. In Week 2, Itasca will play at Ridgewater while Dakota College-Bottineau will take on Rochester CTC.
Wahpeton, North Dakota, was the site for Week 1 action between North Dakota State College of Science and Vermilion Community College. In a back-and-forth affair, the NDSCS Wildcats were able to pick up a win over the Ironmen, 23-20. NDSCS was paced by place-kicker, Gregory Slade with field goals of 28, 35, and 40 yards and was 2-for-2 in PAT's. Vermilion will look to build on some solid performances against one of the top MCAC teams for Week 2, when they play M-State Fergus Falls. North Dakota State College of Science will see Central Lakes College in Week Two. The rematch of the 2016 MCAC State Championship Game will kickoff at 1:30 in Brainerd.
Ridgewater College, a 2016 MCAC playoff team, traveled to Superior, Wisconsin and bested Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College, 13 to 6. Defensively, Ridgewater saw strong performances by linebacker Josh Allen and defensive back Rashwan Gant, who both had 7 tackles apiece. Fond du Lac will take some solace in holding Ridgewater's quarterback, Carl Borleis, to a 10-of-28 passing performance, with only 88 yards gained through the air. In Week 2, Ridgewater takes on Itasca CC while FDL will tangle with Northland CTC.
In the battle of new head coaches at their respective colleges, Tom Inforzato's Mesabi Range College Norsemen came out on top of Korey Fry's M State Fergus Falls Spartans, 42 to 15 in Virginia, Mn. With the score 28-15 and M State starting to establish a rhythm offensively, Mesabi Range broke the game open in the fourth quarter with two quick, successive touchdowns to put the game out of reach. For the M State defense, Andrew Costello led the team with 11 tackles and 2 sacks. The Spartans will play Vermilon in Week 2, while Mesabi Range will go to Minnesota West CTC.
Central Lakes College, who entered 2017 ranked #13 nationally, defeated the Bluejays of Minnesota West, 28 to 12 in Worthington. The road opener proved to be a good way to start for Raiders Jordan Spenst who had a 51 yard interception return and Marnez Trotter, who had 8 solo tackles. As a unit, Central Lakes held Minnesota West to a negative 10 yards rushing on the day. A 97 yard fumble return for a touchdown by Central Lakes at the end of the first half seemed to be the key momentum swing in a game that was tight defensively for much of the game. For Jeff Linder's MnWest squad, Peyton Kendrick turned in a strong performance with 182 yards passing, as did Caleb Tinklenberg, who had 4 catches for 121 yards. Week 2 will see CLC play at NDSCS while Minnesota West takes on Mesabi Range. The CLC vs. NDSCS affair will pit the top two vote getters in the MCAC preseason poll against each other and provide a rematch of the MCAC State Championship Game of one year ago, when the Raiders outlasted the Wildcats, 36-28.
Lastly, in Thief River Falls, Northland Community & Technical College beat Rochester Community & Technical College, 23 to 12. The early season showdown between the Yellowjackets and Pioneers saw RCTC's Brandon Pierce factor in on 14 tackles, 8 solo, including a sack. Northland's Ethan Hill excelled defensively with 3 sacks among his 7 tackles. On offense, Pioneer quarterback Shannon Patrick had 169 yards passing (21-of-31) , while Rochester's two QB's (Ryan Fyke and Joseph Lane) had 146 total yards combined on the day. Both squads will be in action in Week Two with RCTC going to Dakota College-Bottineau and Northland traveling to Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College.
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Story courtesy of MCAC Sports