College football: Minnesota West completes miraculous comeback, 48-47

WORTHINGTON -- Trailing by 13 points with less than three minutes to play, the Minnesota West Community and Technical College Bluejays seemed destined to lose a free-wheeling football contest to visiting Northland Saturday afternoon at Trojan Field.

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Minnesota West Blue Jay defenders Michael Preuss (44) and Juan Moore (5) drag Northland's Deion Hogan (13) down in the mud Saturday afternoon at Trojan Field. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)


WORTHINGTON -- Trailing by 13 points with less than three minutes to play, the Minnesota West Community and Technical College Bluejays seemed destined to lose a free-wheeling football contest to visiting Northland Saturday afternoon at Trojan Field.

Not only were the Bluejays trailing by two touchdowns; they were on defense.

But they made a big stop. Northland turned the football over on downs on the West 34-yard line. On first down, Bluejay quarterback Peyton Kendrick threw a back-shoulder pass on the left side to his star receiver Reginald Colson III, who sidestepped a Pioneer safety who slipped on the muddy field and raced 66 yards for a score.

Just 2:40 showed on the fourth quarter clock when Caleb Tinklenberg’s extra point was blocked. But he was given another chance due to an off-sides penalty on Northland. That one went through the uprights, making the score 47-41.


Time,  however, was still on Northland’s side.

But again, the Minnesota West defense -- the one that had been blistered all afternoon -- held. Northland punted with 2:11 to go, and the Jays set up on their own 35-yard line. Three plays later they were down to their last chance, on a fourth-and-10, and they chose to toss a swing pass on the right side to their all-purpose sophomore back, Kevin Carter, who caught it and not only gained the first down but motored all the way down the right sideline on a 65-yard touchdown gallop.

Just 1:23 showed on the fourth quarter clock when Tinklenberg booted another PAT through the uprights, giving West a 48-47 lead.

Again, the defense held. The Bluejays bounced off the field in ecstasy, keeping their playoff hopes alive with an improbable -- some might say miraculous -- victory.

It takes a lot of confidence in a running back’s speed and maneuverability to throw him a short swing pass on fourth-and-10. But Carter has done it before, albeit not perhaps in a more dramatic situation.

“I’m very confident in an open field,” he said after the game. “I think I can make anyone miss, and if I can get a block I can take it to the house.

“It was just a regular swing route. … I was hoping (Kendrick) would throw it, and I’m glad he did. I was thinking, ‘Get the first, get the first,’ and it happened that I got more than that.”

“I just knew the swing was open,” said Kendrick. “They weren’t paying any attention to it. He caught it with one hand. He’s an elusive player. Anytime you get him the ball, he’s a threat to score.”


On the previous touchdown pass to Colson, a little bit of fate intervened.

“It was a pump fake. I knew I was going for it. I pump faked and I tried to throw it on the back shoulder. The safety was 15 yards off. That’s why I threw it on the back shoulder. His momentum caused him to slip.”

But Colson -- the MCAC leader in reception yards and touchdowns -- kept his footing, streaking into the end zone with nary a Pioneer in sight.

“It was a good throw. It was a back-shoulder throw. It was a good chance for me to make a catch. He fell and I could walk into the end zone,” Colson explained.

The loss dropped Northland to 4-2.

Bragging rights for Kendrick Minnesota West entered the game -- played on a bright Saturday afternoon but on a field turned muddy on account of recent hard rains and a high school game played there the night before -- saddled with a 1-4 record and a defense that had struggled mightily in recent outings.

Against the Pioneers, too, the defense struggled, especially in the passing game. Northland quarterback Shannon Patrick came in as the MCAC’s leader in passing yards and touchdowns, and against the Jays he completed 34 of 56 passes for 444 yards and five scores, with one interception.

Neither team scored in the first quarter, but in the second quarter 42 points were put on the board. Northland took its 28-14 halftime lead and maintained at least a touchdown advantage throughout the second half -- until the Bluejays struck with their fireworks.


For Kendrick, a 6-2, 230-pounder from Tucson, Ariz., the final result was especially rewarding. The confident, aggressive signal-caller played for Northland in his freshman season before transferring for his sophomore year to Minnesota West.

He finished Saturday’s game completing 33 of 56 passes for 479 yards and five touchdowns -- including all three of West’s fourth quarter scores.

“We just never stopped fighting. And against my former team, it couldn’t have been any better,” Kendrick said after the game.

“(The game) has been marked on my schedule since I got here. I listened to all the chatter on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They (former teammates) were even calling me at night, calling me to tell me they were coming for me,” he said, smiling.

Minnesota West trailed 14-0 before Kendrick passed for his first score, a 27-yard strike to Colson. West’s other first half score occurred on a 5-yard Jaren Hillian run.

Then in the second half, Kendrick threw TD passes to Tinklenberg (10 yards), to Tinklenberg again (15 yards), and then to Colson and Carter to complete the miraculous comeback.

West’s other touchdown was tallied by Carter on a 1-yard run.

Final totals showed Minnesota West with just 10 net yards rushing but 479 through the air, and Northland with 123 yards rushing and 444 with the pass.

Carter rushed seven times for 29 yards to lead the Minnesota West runners. Colson III caught nine passes for 180 yards and Tinklenberg caught 11 for 106. Jordan Jensen, a Worthington High School grad, caught five for 39.

Steven Lucas Jr. was in on 10 tackles for the West defense, and Adrian High School product Michael Preuss was in on nine.

After the game, Carter agreed that late in the fourth quarter, it looked as if the Bluejays had run out of time.

The win, he said, “gives us that confidence to get rolling, keep winning.”

Head coach Jeff Linder gathered up his Bluejays after the fourth quarter ended and sat them down on one knee in one giant huddle. His first words to them were, “How ‘bout them Bluejays!”

As Trojan Field emptied, he could be found sitting on a bench at the 50-yard line with family members nearby. He confided to a reporter, “It was absolutely a total team effort. We were hanging in there. We were not stopping them defensively. But we hung in there. A great effort by these young men.”

Northland 0 28 6 13 -- 47Minnesota West 0 14 13 21 -- 48

Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at
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