MW FOOTBALL: Bluejays fall to Warriors in first loss of seasonWILLMAR — After rattling off four straight wins to start the season, the Minnesota West Bluejays lost their first game of the year 28-9 to the Ridgewater Warriors in a Southern Division football clash Saturday in Willmar.
By: Daily Globe, Worthington Daily Globe
WILLMAR — After rattling off four straight wins to start the season, the Minnesota West Bluejays lost their first game of the year 28-9 to the Ridgewater Warriors in a Southern Division football clash Saturday in Willmar.
“We didn’t play well or execute well,” Bluejay coach Jeff Linder said. “I was expecting a better game out of our guys and our coaching staff.”
The Bluejays’ lack of execution showed in their inability to establish the run throughout the game. MW’s rush attack was stifled by Ridgewater and was only able to pick up 48 yards on 31 attempts.
The passing attack for the Bluejays didn’t have much more success against the Warriors’ defense. Quarterback Greg Gainey completed less than half of his passes (13-for-38, three INTs) for 161 yards.
“Overall the team didn’t put anything together on defense or offense,” Linder said. “We just didn’t do anything with the opportunities we had.”
The Warriors were the first to put points on the board after Martell Baker ran for a four-yard touchdown in the first quarter to cap a 10-play, 77-yard drive for Ridgewater (PAT good).
“We didn’t make plays as a team on offense or defense,” Linder said.
MW was able to get on the board in the second quarter on a 40-yard field goal by Tyler Smith to cut Ridgewater’s lead to four.
However, the Warriors came right back with another touchdown just over four minutes later to put them up by double-digits. Ridgewater quarterback Cody Jaeger completed a pass to Nathanial Swoyer for a five-yard strike. The touchdown complemented a nine-play, 78-yard drive for Ridgewater that took just four minutes and 16 seconds off the clock.
Coming out of halftime, the Bluejays were able to punch the ball into the end zone on a 13-yard pass from Gainey to James Stutz (two receptions, 35 yards). The point after was blocked by Ridgewater’s Lawrence White, making the score 14-9.
“The guys kept on playing hard even though they were struggling,” Linder said. “When you get down, you still have to step on the field and make things happen. We just didn’t come up with anything in the end.”
The Warriors answered the Bluejays’ touchdown with another of their own, this one a 13-yard run by Baker to make it 21-9 going into the fourth quarter.
Neither team would score offensively the rest of the game, but Ridgewater was able to put points on the board with its defense.
The Warriors’ Tarrell McDuffie picked off Gainey at the Ridgewater 21 and took it all the way for a 79-yard touchdown.
“The fact is that we didn’t execute well in any part of the game,” Linder said. “We knew our jobs, and we fell short. There is no quick fix for that.”
The score put the Warriors up 28-9 and effectively squashed any comeback attempt the Bluejays might have been attempting.
“Sometimes you have things that go your way for a while,” Linder said. “And we’ve had things go pretty well for us so far. Now we just have to regroup and get ready for our next game.”
Julian Robinson and Kevin Harris led the Bluejays offense with 19 rushing yards apiece, while D’Lorian Jordan and Rex Johnson led the receivers with 47 yards each.
The MW defense was led by Matt Shivley, who picked up the team’s only sack and had four solo tackles. Reuben Linton III also had four solo tackles to go along with Gerald Jones and Michael Knight’s three tackles.
“We didn’t do what we were supposed to do in every aspect of the game,” Linder said. “We are 4-1 now, but there is nothing wrong with that. The sun came up and things will go on.
“We just need to make sure we understand what happened and execute in the next game.”
MW hosts the Central Lake Raiders Saturday at Trojan Field with a 2:30 p.m. kickoff.
Bluejays 0 3 6 0 — 9
Warriors 7 7 7 7 — 28