Minnesota West Overview
Northland took a 20-0 lead in the game's first eight minutes last Saturday against Minnesota West. Behind 33-13 early in the third quarter, the Jays rallied with back-up QB Greg Gainey at the controls after an injury to starter Logan Massop. Playing a big role in the comeback in the 41-40 win at Worthington were three fake punts -- two for first downs and the other for a 53-yard TD, each by Reuben Linton II, a freshman defensive back. The Jays outgained the Pioneers (2-2) 424-333 in yards, including 256 on the lawn in 50 snaps. Massop (582 yards, 6 INTs, 5 TDs) is out. RB Shawn Gohl has 48 carries for 175 yards.
Today's winner takes over first place in the MCAC South Division alone and will be the only unbeaten left in the conference. Coach Rob Baumgarn was not pleased with the team's showing at Fergus Falls last week, even though they posted a 28-6 win. He doesn't expect the lack of focus to continue into this week with so much at stake and playing before a home crowd for the first time since Sept. 1. The defense has been consistent allowing just 7.5 points per game and 142 total yards per game. The running game has been solid, logging 210 yards per game and will be counted on to carry the load against the Bluejays' strong defense. Baumgarn and defensive coordinator Jim Mitteness have been pleased with the play of the secondary, which includes Emanuell Williams (St. Paul Central), Corey Smith (Palm Beach, Fla.) and Hunter Smith (Sioux Falls, S.D.). Starting sophomore safety Kleme Yarh is out 3-4 weeks with a broken foot.
-- Rand Middleton