In the Minnesota College Athletic Conference, Week 2 football contests gave coaches and coordinators one last look at personnel and formations before commencing Divisional play next Saturday, when the hunt for MCAC playoff spots begins in earnest. Additionally, the second week in MCAC football provided for a look at two of the top community college programs in the Midwest, as 14th ranked Central Lakes College hosted 'receving votes' North Dakota State College of Science in Brainerd.
Also on the line was Divisional bragging rights, as the Western programs went 4-2 in Week 1, with only CLC and Mesabi Range putting a notch in the win column for the East. Week 2 proved to be a flip of the script, as Vermilion CC, Itasca, Rochester CTC and the Raiders earned victories in a 4-2 week for the Eastern Division.
First-year head coach Weldon Braxton earned his inaugural victory for the Vikings, as Itasca squeaked out a 21-20 win on the road at Ridgewater College. The Warriors only surrendered six points in their opening game against Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College, but Itasca found a way to put up 21 on week 2, giving ICC their first win of the season. Both Ridgewater and Itasca head into next weeks games with 1-1 records in 2017.
Regardless of which game they were at on Saturday afternoon, most fans with an interest in junior college football had an eye on Brainerd, where Central Lakes and North Dakota State College of Science met at 1:30pm for a battle of ranked teams. Central Lakes jumped out to a 9-0 first quarter lead on a Chidozie Mbah 50 yard touchdown run and a Antoine Akundu chip shot field goal from 20 yards. NDSCS was unable to get on the scoreboard in the first half, but Week 1 Special Teams POW Gregory Slade Jr.connected on a 25 yd field goal to draw first blood for the Wildcats to open the second half. NDSCS tacked on a touchdown by Benjamin Maus in the 4th, but a pair of Nuke Crowell 1 yard touchdown dives in the second half was the difference in the contest, as Central Lakes earned the victory, 22-10. Coach Greg Medeck's Raider squad takes a 2-0 record into Division play next week when they take on Vermilion, while North Dakota State College of Science will host Ridgewater College.
Rochester Community & Technical College may have considered changing their mascot to the "Road Warriors", having to start 2017 with two of the longest trips in the MCAC, playing away to Northland CTC in Thief River Falls on Week 1 and then traveling out to Bottineau, North Dakota to take on Dakota College in Week 2. The second trip proved to be the charm for the Yellowjackets, as they up-ended Dakota College-Bottineau, 24-21. For Rochester, Austin Gray and Cazz Martin each caught a touchdown pass, and Sandillo Wright had a 22 yard punt return for touchdown to pace RCTC. Dakota College's Elijah Todd had an outstanding rushing performance, grinding out 227 yards and two touchdowns, while Quay Harvey eclipsed the century mark in receiving yards with a 114 total on the day, including a 62 yard haul. Rochester will finally enjoy some home cooking when they host Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College and Dakota College will travel to Northland CTC next week.
Minnesota West played their second consecutive home game in Week 2, hosting Mesabi Range College. In a contest which featured scoring by both teams in every stanza, the Bluejays outlasted the Norsemen, 30-23. Mesabi Range found themselves in striking distance in the last series of the game, but an interception by Minnesota West's Aaron Shuford sealed the victory for coach Jeff Linder's squad. Mesabi Range had a pair of quarterbacks, Quinton Harris and Deabrie Smith, combine for 193 yards passing, spreading the offense around several receivers. Eight Norse caught passes in the contest, led by Jaleel Grimes with four catches. Connor Cusick has yet to miss a kick for Mesabi in 2017, hitting a 26 yarder to open the scoring in the game and nailing both PAT's. Bluejay kicker Caleb Tinklenberg matched Cusick, responding from 24 yards in the first quarter and going 3-4 in PAT's while Michael Preuss took over punting for MnWest, pinning MRC inside their own 20 on two occasions. Minnesota West receiver Reginald Colson III had a career day in receiving, catching 13 balls for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, Bluejay Danny McCann led his squad with 8 tackles, while Norseman Justin Hooks was dominant, earning 3 sacks and 10 total tackles. MRC plays local rival Itasca CC in Week 3, while Minnesota West will play it's first road game of 2017, traveling to M State in Fergus Falls.
In Ely, Minnesota, Vermilion Community College hosted M State, with both teams looking for their first win of 2017. VCC churned out 393 yards of total offense on the day, and took command in the second half, putting up 21 points across quarters three and four, which the Spartans were unable to match. Vermilion's 28 - 7 win over M State was keyed by quarterback Breon Jackson, who went 20-42 for 243 yards with two touchdowns. The Spartans picked off Jackson twice, but were unable to convert the turnovers into offense. In a balanced Vermilion attack, Glenn Smith rushed for 102 yards, averaging 9.3 yards on 11 carries. Defensively for VCC, Danilson Da Veiga-Semedo had 15 tackles, followed closely by Anthony Miranda, with 13 and a fumble recovery. M State will host Minnesota West to open up their Western Division schedule, while Vermilion will travel to Central Lakes College.
In the late game of the MCAC Saturday slate, Northland CTC rolled out to a 37-0 first half lead and never looked back en route to a 44-6 win over Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College. The Pioneer defense held the Thunder to a 3.4 yards per offensive play and forced four punts on the day. Xaiver Lewis, FDL's kickoff return specialist, tallied 73 yards in kick returns and Eric Grant had an interception for 21 yards to go with 2 solo tackles for Vermilion. Offensively, Northland was led by quarterback Shannon Patrick, who went 23-42 for 354 yards and four touchdowns. NCTC receiver Malik Williams had 8 catches for 101 yards and a touchdown. Running backs Deion Hogan, Stephen Gaines and Joe Cash combined for most of the Pioneer rushing offense, accruing 22 carries and almost 150 yards on the ground. Most notable was Northland's secondary coverage, holding FDL to only 15 net yards passing and earned an interception in the final non-Division game for both teams before opening up against Divisional opponents next week. Cody Williamson had five tackels-for-loss against the Thunder. NCTC moves to 2-0 on the season and will play Dakota College-Bottineau on Saturday; Fond du Lac is 0-2 so far, and will look to get on track against in Week 3 against Rochester CTC.
Photo courtesy of Doug Wolter, Daily Globe, Worthington
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About the Minnesota College Athletic Conference
The Minnesota College Athletic Conference is the organizational body for NJCAA-affiliated two-year technical and community college athletic programs in the Minnesota State system. The mission of the Minnesota College Athletic Conference is to advance intercollegiate athletics by providing an engaging and supportive environment for success of our student athletes and competition among member institutions. The MCAC is committed to the guiding principles of encouraging the development and success of student athletes, promoting the integrity, honesty and loyalty to member schools as well as upholding the sustainability of conference athletic programs.