MW FOOTBALL: Bluejays soar past SpartansWORTHINGTON — Racking up a total of 457 yards offensively and allowing just 92 net yards defensively, the Minnesota West Bluejays earned a dominant 37-0 victory over the Fergus Falls Spartans Saturday in a key Minnesota College Athletic Conference Southern Division football game on Homecoming at Trojan Field.
By: Lucas Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Racking up a total of 457 yards offensively and allowing just 92 net yards defensively, the Minnesota West Bluejays earned a dominant 37-0 victory over the Fergus Falls Spartans Saturday in a key Minnesota College Athletic Conference Southern Division football game on Homecoming at Trojan Field.
The Bluejays, who are now 5-2 overall and 1-2 in the division, clinched a playoff berth with the win (the top four teams in the five-team division make it in). Minnesota West is in fourth place with six points, while Fergus Falls (1-6, 0-4) is in fifth with just one point and only one game to play.
Minnesota West finishes the regular season Saturday with a road game at Rochester (1:30 p.m.) and will open postseason play the following week against an opponent to be determined.
“We’re happy with the win and with securing a spot in the playoffs,” Minnesota West head coach Jeff Linder said. “It was nice to have a game like this on Homecoming in front of our fans for the last time this season. We played outstanding defensively, and we established a solid running attack to move the ball on the ground like we wanted to.”
The Bluejays ran the ball 43 times for 348 yards, with Enoch Smith (eight carries for 144 yards, two touchdowns) and Kevin Harris (18 carries for 116 yards, one touchdown) both eclipsing 100 yards. Julian Robinson (six carries for 59 yards, one touchdown) and De’Shawn Gohl (nine carries for 32 yards) also contributed to the high-powered rushing game for Minnesota West.
Greg Gainey was efficient through the air for the Bluejays, completing 6-of-10 passes for 109 yards and a late 38-yard touchdown strike to James Stutz. Zelius Morrow (31 yards) and D’lorian Jordan (13 yards) each had a pair of receptions for Minnesota West, while Rex Johnson reeled in a 27-yard aerial from Gainey.
Defensively, the Bluejays recorded seven quarterback sacks and allowed Fergus Falls to gain just 41 net yards rushing on 40 carries and complete only 7-of-23 passes for 51 yards. Matt Shively led Minnesota West with 13 tackles and a pair of sacks.
“Our defense did an excellent job against both the run and pass, not allowing Fergus Falls to get anything going,” Linder said. “I’m proud of the guys for responding to the challenge and helping us get a much-needed win after we lost each of the last two weeks.”
Bluejays score on third play from scrimmage
It didn’t take Minnesota West long to take control of the action, as Harris broke free for a 54-yard scamper down the right sideline on the very first play of the Bluejays’ game-opening drive — advancing the ball from their own 45-yard line to the Spartans’ one.
Then, after a one-yard loss, Enoch Smith landed in the end zone with a two-yard touchdown burst. Tyler Smith booted the extra point through the uprights, lifting Minnesota West to a quick 7-0 lead with 13:47 showing on the first-quarter clock.
The Bluejays got a defensive stop on the Spartans’ first series and then put together another scoring drive — this one resulting in a 29-yard field goal by Tyler Smith to make it 10-0 at the 6:20 mark. Enoch Smith had surges of 18 and 42 yards, as Minnesota West moved from its own seven-yard line to Fergus Falls’ 12 on eight plays.
Minnesota West was unable to extend the lead during the second quarter and maintained a 10-0 advantage at halftime, as the Bluejays turned the ball over twice. But Fergus Falls didn’t capitalize and fell short of scoring on the only two real chances it had to reach the end zone in the game.
Bluejays score 27 points in second half
The second half featured more of the same defensive prowess from Minnesota West, while the Bluejays were better able to take care of the ball and sustain their own scoring opportunities, as well.
Harris capped a short four-play drive that covered 48 yards with a 12-yard touchdown dash with 4:49 remaining in the third quarter to extend the gap to 16-0 (PAT no good). Enoch Smith’s 30-yard rumble helped set up that Bluejays’ score.
Enoch Smith again showed his speed and elusiveness on Minnesota West’s next possession, snapping off a 42-yard touchdown run down the right sideline. Tyler Smith tacked on the PAT, pushing the margin to 23-0 with 1:44 to go in the third.
“Our running backs did a nice job of running north-and-south,” Linder said. “Our offensive line also needs to get a lot of credit, as does our tight end (Morrow). Everything starts up front, and our blocking was super today.”
Minnesota West increased its lead to 30-0 at the 7:37 mark of the fourth quarter, as Gainey fired a 38-yard touchdown pass to Stutz streaking behind the Spartans’ defense. Tyler Smith’s third successful extra-point kick ensued.
The Bluejays’ Dylan Hart recovered a fumble on the follow-up kickoff, helping lead to the final score of the game. Robinson found a seam up the middle and cruised into the end zone on a 20-yard touchdown run (Tyler Smith PAT good) to create a 37-0 bulge with 6:06 remaining.
FF 0 0 0 0 — 0
MW 10 0 13 14 — 37