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Ridgewater College running back Tyrell Martin (35) is wrapped up by Central Lakes' Ryan Cortes (56) and Greg Wright (43) in Saturday's MCAC game in Brainerd. Ridgewater defeated the Raiders 26-14 to clinch an MCAC playoff spot. Photo by Mark Slupe.

Ridgewater football team clinches playoff spot

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BRAINERD -- The Ridgewater College football team defeated Central Lakes 26-14 on Saturday, clinching a spot in the MCAC playoffs for the first time since 2002.

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Ridgewater is 6-3 overall and its 3-1 record in the Southern Division edged out Central Lakes (2-2 MCAC) for second place, despite the Raiders' 7-2 overall record.

The Warriors will play Northland College at Thief River Falls on Saturday in the MCAC semifinals. Ridgewater lost at Northland on 17-14 on Sept. 17.

Northland and Mesabi Range both entered Saturday with 3-0 MCAC Northern Division records but Northland defeated Mesabi Range 39-24 on Saturday.

Northland outscored Mesabi Range 39-24 on Thursday to win the Northern Division. Mesabi will travel to Rochester, which topped Minnesota West 34-21 to finish the regular season unbeaten.

This is the first post-season appearance under head coach Rob Baumgarn and the school's first since 2002, when they lost 46-40 in the semifinals to Northland.

"It was a great win for the Warriors," said Baumgarn, adding that his team out-muscled the Raiders for most of the game.

"We physically beat them down," he said. "They had players on the sidelines who were in really rough shape."

Ridgewater's defensive play was impressive. The Warriors limited Central Lakes to 226 total yards. The Warriors intercepted Central Lakes' quarterbacks eight times and sacked them six times.

That was a huge advantage for the Warriors' offense, which managed just 208 total yards against the top-ranked defense in the state.

"Our special teams and defense put the offense in great field position and the offense chewed up the clock with a lot of three- and four-yard runs," Baumgarn said. "We knew that if we kept running the football they would have to go to man coverage and we liked our matchups on the outside."

Quarterback Trevor Nystrom threw second-half touchdown passes to Barrett Blake and Jake Bothun after Central Lakes scored in the third quarter to pull within a touchdown.

Ridgewater's Devontay Stevens carried 26 times for 96 yards and Nathanial Swoyer had 45 yards on seven carries.

Ridgewater 26,

Central Lakes 14

Ridgewater (3-1, 6-3) 0 14 6 6 -- 26

Central Lakes (2-2, 7-2) 0 0 7 7 -- 14

R - Nathanial Swoyer 1 run (Elijah Swen kick)

R - Dovantay Stevens 14 run (Swen kick)

C - Jordan Hayes 60 pass from Skyler Shearer (kick good)

R - Barrett Blake 24 pass from Trevor Nystrom (kick blocked)

R - Jake Bothun 20 pass from Nystrom conversion failed)

C - Taz Seibert 14 run (kick good)

Ridgewater

Team statistics

First downs: 9 ... Rushing: 38-138 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 5-15-70-2 ... Fumbles lost: 0 ... Penalties: 6-30

Individual statistics

Rushing: Davontay Stevens 26-96, Nathanial Swoyer 7-45, Trevor Nystrom 2-(-15), Tyrell Martin 3-12 ... Passing: Nystrom 5-15-70-2 ... Receiving: Stevens 1-12, Swoyer 1-4, Jake Bothun 2-26, Barrett Blake 1-20 ... Punting: Daryl Thomas 6-220 (36.7) ... Interceptions: Thomas 2, Telvince Way 3, Elijah Swen 2, Corey Smith 1 ... Fumble recoveries: Swen 1, Rob Diane 1 ... Tackles (solo-assist): Thomas 7-5, Jonathan Cross 11-7, Way 2-1, Swen 2-3, Brandon Krona 2-1, Harry Cardor 3-2, Jamie Fields 2-1, Scott Thiemann 2-0, Emanuell Williams 1-0, Smith 1-0, Diane 1-2, Kleme Yarh 2-0, Johnnie Miller 0-1, Josh Boyda 3-2, Mevlin Kromah 3-5, Henry Hankerson 2-3, Connor Doyle 1-1, Estimhile Wadensky 0-1, Dominic Mitchell 4-3 ... QB sacks: Cross 3, Diane 2, Mitchell 1

Central Lakes

Team statistics

First downs: 11 ... Rushing: 29-68 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 13-36-226-8 ... Fumbles lost: 2 ... Penalties: 7-65

Individual statistics

Rushing: Taz Seibert 17-81, Aaron White 6-17, Carson Wessigner 3-(-18), Skyler Shearer 2-(-11), Jordan Hayes 1-(-1) ... Passing: Wessigner 5-17-60-2, Shearer 8-19-166-6 ... Receiving: Ryan Tri 1-17, Maurice Baldwin 2-27, Seibert 1-11, John Ulrich 1-20, Gabe Eppert 2-24, Hayes 5-102, Averey Duncan 1-25

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