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College football: Bluejays defense slows potent Rochester attack

ROCHESTER -- It was more of the same for Minnesota West in its 26-8 loss at Rochester in MCAC football action on Saturday. The defense was exceptional, while the offense didn’t hold up its end of the bargain.

“Our defense is keeping us in games,” Bluejays head coach Jeff Linder said. “In both games they’ve scored as many points as the offense. Our defense has six points and our offense has six points.”

The Bluejays defense held a potent Yellowjackets passing attack to only 160 yards. Last week against North Dakota State College of Science, Rochester quarterback James Stovall threw for 412 yards and four touchdowns -- more than double the output West allowed. Rochester wide receiver Connor Watts managed only a single catch for 13 yards against the Bluejays, after catching 10 passes for 265 yards a week ago.

Much like in the Bluejay’s Week 1 16-4 loss to Itasca, West’s defense found itself cleaning up the offense’s messes. After Minnesota West running back Anthony Love lost a fumble on the Rochester one-yard line, the Bluejays defense picked up its third safety of the season.

The defense brought down Yellowjackets running back Montrel Moore in his own end zone on the first play of the drive to take a 2-0 lead in the first quarter.

“Offensively we had the ball on the two yard line, and like the week prior we turned the ball over there and didn’t score,” Linder said. “We’ve got a very solid defense that can keep us in games against some of the best. If we can figure this out offensively and quit turning the ball over we can win some games.”

The lead didn’t stand for long, however, as Rochester got a safety of its own, and a 37-yard Dylan Stetter field goal to take a 5-2 lead into halftime.

Stovall and the Yellowjackets offense could only be contained for so long, as the quarterback led three second-half scoring drives after not finding the endzone in the first half.

“Defensively, we did a great job in the first half,” Linder said. “We put them in some really poor positions offensively. They just got tired in the second half because the offense was letting us down.”

With 7 minutes remaining in the third quarter, Stovall found Tyree Jones with a 21 yard pass to extend the Rochester lead to 12-2.

Later in the third, Stovall found Jaylen Johnson on a 69 yard pass, giving the Yellowjackets a 19-2 lead.

Stovall then ran the ball in from two yards out with 8:28 remaining in the game to put Rochester up 26-2.

The Bluejays scored their first touchdown of the season with a 24-yard pass from Aaron Moore to Jared Kinley to make it 26-8. The two-point try was no good.

Kinley finished the game with three catches for 70 yards and the touchdown, while Moore passed for 127 yards and a touchdown.

“Offensively we made some strides and moved forward,” Linder said. “We still had too many scoring opportunities we didn’t take advantage of and too many turnovers. Offensively, we know what we’re doing but we’ve gotta have a little tenacity -- we’ve gotta have a little attitude when we have the ball.”

Minnesota West defensive end Kenny Reid had four tackles, two sacks and three-and a-half tackles for loss in the game.

Despite only scoring one touchdown, the Bluejays were able to sustain drives, outpacing Rochester in first downs 16-13.

MW 2 0 6 0 -- 8

R 5 0 14 7 -- 26

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