Koenen throws four TD passes in Warriors' win over Fond du Lac
WILLMAR -- The Alex McLaughlin Show finally has some co-stars.
Sophomore quarterback Justin Koenen for one. He threw for 226 yards and four touchdowns and ran for a fifth as the Ridgwater Warriors got their first home win Saturday afternoon 44-27 over Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College of Cloquet.
Ridgewater (5-2) is still in a bind, needing to win its next two games to get to the playoffs.
Sophomore Zach Thissen also played a key part. Koenen's teammate since fifth grade at MACCRAY caught six passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns.
Until now the Warriors' offense had piggy-backed McLaughlin. The Thunder tamed the sophomore running back somewhat, holding him to a season-low 137 yards but that preoccupation was costly.
Koenen, making his first start since Week 3, completed 9-of-15 passes with one interception. His pass to Ricky Warren from the end zone was on the money at midfield. The sophomore from Stuart, Fla., shook a tackler to complete a 95-yard touchdown play for a 37-14 lead in the last minute of the third quarter.
The Thunder weren't done. Freshman quarterback Kyle Hall -- co-national player of the week with McLaughlin -- threw two touchdowns passes in the first 90 seconds of the fourth period around a Warriors' turnover to make it 37-27.
When the Thunder blocked a Brett Dumke punt, they had the ball a mid-field with 8:53 left.
But linebacker Matt Wold intercepted Hall for the second time and ran it back 30 yards. That led to a McLaughlin three-yard TD with 5:50 left.
Sophomore cornerbacks Micah Oates-Jenkins also picked off Hall twice and Justin Melando got his first college theft in the fourth.
Hall was 32 of 53 for 344 yards and now has 14 TDs in the last three games. Keith Lofgren, his high-school teammate at Esko, caught 11 balls 148 yards.
"They were very gritty," said Warriors' inside linebacker Trent Molacek, whose focus became pass protection with the Thunder throwing 8 of 10 plays.
In its second year of football, Fond du Lac (2-5) came to Willmar with a two-win streak and just 32 players in uniform.
The Warriors' 453 total yards included fullback Jeff Wahl's 71 in 11 tries.
Ridgewater (5-2) plays a 6 p.m. game at Rochester on Saturday, a must-win to stay in the playoff picture.
Ridge. 44, Fond du Lac 27
Fond du Lac TCC 7 7 0 13 -- 27
Ridgewater 0 17 20 7 -- 44
FDL - Jayquan Candy 1 run (Den Dvorak kick)
Rgw - L.W. Frost 2 pass from Justin Koenen (Luke Euerle kick)
FDL - Keith Lofgren 15 pass from Kyle Hall (Dvorak kick)
Rgw - Koenen 10 run (Eurele kick)
Rgw - Euerle 32 field goal
Rgw - Zach Thissen 25 pass from Koenen (Euerle kick)
Rgw - Thissen 29 pass from Koenen (Euerle kick)
Rgw - Ricky Warren 95 pass from Koenen (kick fail)
FDL- Steve Lyke 15 pass from Hall (pass fail)
FDL - Marcus Young 33 pass from Hall (Devorak kick)
Rgw - Alex McLaughlin 3 run (Euerle kick)
Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College
First downs: 19 ... Rushing: 15-15 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 32-53-344-5 ... Fumbles lost: 0 ... Penalties: 7-55
Rushing: Kyle Hall 6-13, Jayquen Green 2-2 ... Passing: Hall 32-53-344-5 ... Receiving: Keith Lofgren 11-148, Young 10-103, Marshall Littl 7-53, BenDvorak 2-18, Steve Lyke 2-22 ... Punting: Ben Devorak 6-24.3 ... Interception: Wade Mahoney
First downs: 15 ... Rushing: 55-227 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 9-15-226-1 ... Fumbles lost: 0 ... Penalties: 5-30
Rushing: Alex McLaughlin 27-129, Nik Neubarth 4-15, Justin Koenen 3-12, Jake Wahl 11-71 ... Passing: Koenen 9-15-226-1 ... Receiving: Trent Traxler 1-6, Ricky Warren 1-95, L.W. Frost 1-2, Zach Thissen 6-119 ... Punting: Brett Dumke 4-19.5 ... Interceptions: Oates-Jenkins 2, Melhado 1, Wold 2 ... Fumble recoveries: none ... Tackles (solo-assist): Jeff Kalow 1-3, Dumke 4-0, Travis Colgrove 2-1, Leon Sargent 3-3, Micah Oates-Jenkins 6-1, Justin Melhado 7-1, Mickell Brown 2-2, Joe Doubler 1-2, Trent Molacek 4-1, Tyler Petermeier 1-2, Matt Wold 2-2, Justin Kassner 1-1, Torean Tubman 3-2 ... QB sacks: Kalow 1