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College football: Bluejays amass 14 sacks, dump Spartans

FERGUS FALLS —A 20-point second quarter outburst was all Minnesota West needed Saturday afternoon to defeat Minnesota State-Fergus Falls 27-7 in a Southern Division football game.

The Bluejays rolled up 235 yards rushing and held Fergus Falls to 16 net yards on the ground as they improved their fall record to 5-2. The visiting Jays won the time of possession 62:08 to 40:05 and recorded an incredible 14 sacks for 78 yards.

It was an important tune-up. West gets ready this week to meet the undefeated Rochester Yellowjackets Saturday at Trojan Field in Worthington. Rochester, ranked No. 1 in the Minnesota College Athletic Conference (MCAC) poll heading into last weekend, defeated No. 4 Ridgewater 26-14 on Saturday.

The Bluejays are ranked No. 4.

Fourteen sacks in one game is indeed an incredible statistic, but Minnesota West head coach Jeff Linder said his team actually missed a few tackles in the backfield against Fergus Falls due to the miserable playing conditions both teams faced.

“Our defense plays so fast, and it was raining and the field conditions were absolutely horrible. So we were actually blowing through and sliding right by,” said Linder, who admitted that his team played somewhat unevenly against an opponent they felt confident of being able to beat. “Lethargic” was how he described his offense during much of the game.

“The offensive line wasn’t overpowering enough,” Linder explained in describing the Jays’ much bigger front. “Actually, our offensive line could’ve just picked ’em up and carried them.”

That didn’t happen, but the Bluejays were still able to move the ball on the ground. All season long, the Jays have done well when they’ve been able to run the football. They ran the football well against the Spartans with sophomore Reuben Linton II leading the way. Linton scored three touchdowns in the contest, finishing with 138 yards on 13 carries. Teammate Zach Norman turned in a solid performance as well, running for 82 yards on 16 tries and scoring the first touchdown of the game.

West’s first three scores were set up on poor punt snaps by Fergus Falls. The first tally was started on the Spartans’ five-yard line, and Norman scored on a run from there.

Linton found the end zone twice more before halftime, getting the first on a two-yard carry and the second on a 22-yard run. Once again, the drives covered short distances — 19 yards and 29 yards. Tyler Smith kicked the extra point on two of the three first half scores and the Jays took a 20-0 lead into halftime.

The Bluejays put more distance between them and the Spartans in the third quarter when Linton scored his third touchdown of the day. It came on an 11-yard run and it finished an eight-play, 56-yard drive. Smith kicked the extra point.

Late in the third quarter, Fergus Falls notched its only score — on a two-yard quarterback keeper by Jesse Vanilau.

Final totals had West with 296 total yards compared to Fergus Falls’ 205. The Spartans completed 19 of 38 passes for 189 yards and an interception while West quarterback Logan Massop hooked up on six of 10 aerials for the 61 yards.

Cha’Ron Thompson had five of West’s 14 sacks. Matt Shively, Gary Howard and Dylan Hart each had two.

Next Saturday’s showdown with Rochester carries important playoff implications. The Bluejays have already qualified for the playoff season, which begins on Oct. 26, as the No. 3 seed. But if they drop down to No. 4, they would go to Rochester for their first postseason game (they travel to Brainerd to face Central Lakes if they stay at No. 3). Should the Jays beat Rochester this weekend and Ridgewater beat Central Lakes, they could possibly get a home game.

In other weekend games, Northland shut out Itasca 45-0, Fond du Lac beat Mesabi Range 34-21 and Central Lakes beat Vermilion 21-13.

MWest 0 20 0 0 — 27

FFalls 0 0 7 0 — 7

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