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College football: West Bluejays move to 2-0


CLOQUET — Rolling up 238 net yards rushing, the Minnesota West Bluejays improved to 2-0 on the football season Saturday with a 23-14 triumph over Fond du Lac.

Using the one-two punch of Reuben Linton II and Zach Norman, who carried for 256 yards between them, the Jays overcame a 7-3 first half deficit to outscore the Thunder 20-7 in the second half. Linton II, a sophomore from San Antonio, Texas, ran 17 times for 164 yards and Norman, a sophomore from Omaha, Neb., added 92 yards on 18 carries.

In some respects, the game was a mirror image of the team’s season opener against Vermilion. In the Vermilion game, the Bluejays looked strong in the first half but lost some momentum in the second half. Against Fon du Lac, West needed some time to get into the flow.

“We started slow this week and didn’t get rolling right away,” said head coach Jeff Linder on Sunday. “Finishing the game was one of the things we had to make sure we did, and we did that yesterday.”

He praised the work of his defense, which racked up six sacks and made a few key stops when the offense put them in difficult situations. The Jays intercepted two passes (both by Greg Gainey) and scored quickly after Donovan Jackson recovered a fumble deep in Thunder territory in the third quarter.

“Our defense did a super job yesterday,” Linder said.

Fond du Lac scored first with 12:22 remaining in the first quarter when a Logan Massop pass was intercepted by Joshua Watson at the West 39-yard line and run in for a score. West came back with 9:29 remaining in the first stanza on a 41-yard field goal by Tyler Smith.

In the third quarter, Norman scored on a six-yard run. The point-after was blocked but the Bluejays had their first lead of the game at 9-7.

The Jays increased their lead later in the quarter on a 27-yard Linton II carry, finishing off a five-play, 65-yard drive. Fond du Lac’s Ryan Brown finished an eight-play, 56-yard drive with a four-yard run, and with the extra point the home team pulled to within two at 16-14.

With 2:06 left in the fourth quarter, Linton II scored his second touchdown of the game on a 26-yard run. Smith’s point-after gave the Bluejays a nearly insurmountable nine-point cushion.

West finished the game with 269 net offensive yards (31 passing) compared to Fon du Lac’s 194. West quarterback Massop completed five of 18 passes. The Thunder went to the air more often and completed more, hooking up on 13 of 33 for 93 yards. West won the time of possession, 74.23 minutes to 31.11.

Defensive back Mike Cooper led the Bluejays in tackles with six.

In other games Saturday, Rochester beat Itasca 54-7, Central Lakes beat Mesabi 20-0, Northland defeated Fergus Falls 52-7 and Ridgewater topped Vermilion 28-7.

West will host Mesabi Saturday at 11 a.m.

MWest 3 0 13 7 — 23

Fon du Lac 7 0 7 0 — 14