WILLMAR -- Tyler Hoelscher and Corey Paul were rivals in high school. Now they're freshmen teammates at Ridgewater on the opposite ends of the Warriors' pass rush.
On Saturday, they collaborated on a defensive touchdown that clinched a 14-6 over Central Lakes in the Southern Division opener.
All game long, the pair had come close to blocking a punt. With under six minutes to play in the fourth quarter and Ridgewater clinging to a 7-6 lead, the heated rush finally paid dividends.
Hoelscher came in from the left end and finally got his hands on the pigskin. The ball deflected behind the punter and sat for a moment before Paul swooped in and picked it up to run 10 yards for the touchdown.
"We'd been coming close," said Hoelscher, who played for Browerville. "It just took a little more effort."
Paul, who came in from the right end, played for Osakis in the same Prairie South Conference as Browerville.
Central Lakes scored the first time it had the ball on a long pass play but not again. Ridgewater outgained the Brainerd college 255-155 (13-5 first downs) but couldn't finish offensively -- at least not until quarterback Aaron Minter hit wide-open tight end Tyler Johnson over the middle for a 13-yard touchdown and a 6-6 tie with under a minute left in the third quarter. Alex Brainerd booted the go-ahead point.
Invigorated by the return from injury of tackle Charles Rosckes and inside linebacker Ryan Klaphakle, the defense let the Raiders past midfield once in the second half.
Defensive backs Tony Kley and Montae Bailey were each in on seven tackles and had an interception.
"This is something to build on for Rochester," said Klaphake, referring to the undefeated Yellowjackets who play here Saturday.
Ridgewater 14, Central Lks 6
Central Lakes (0-1, 3-3) 6 0 0 0 -- 6
Ridgewater (1-0, 3-3) 0 0 7 7 -- 14
CL - Jake Kramer 53 pass from Karson Pike (kick blocked) 13:45 1st quarter
Rid - Tyhler Johnson 13 pass from Aaron Minter (Alex Brainerd kick) :47 3rd quarter
Rid - Corey Paul 10 yard block punt return (Brainerd kick) 5:23 4th quarter.
First downs: 5 ... Rushing: 28-41 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 9-21-109-2 ... Fumbles lost: 1 ... Penalties: 6-54
Rushing: Loue Pirrotta 20-73, Keith Lumley 11-45, Sam Neubauer 8-21, Aaron Minter 6-(-1) .... Passing: Minter 11-27-120-2 .... Receiving: Terry Euerle 4-46, Shawn Thissen 2-32, Steve Peppin 2-27, Tyhler Johnson 1-13, Keith Lumley 1-2, Jason Pawelk 1-0 .... Punting: Tony Kley 6-32..2.... Interceptions: Kley, Montae Bailey .... Tackles (solo-assist): Corey Paul 1-1, Joey Lux 1-0, Kley 3-4, Ryhan Klaphake 5-5, Montae Bailey 5-2, Tyler Hoelscher 1-0, Travis Borwerk 0-5, David Markgraf 1-0, Blake Hagert 3-2, Ted Giese 0-1, Ben Thonvold 0-1, Abe Miller 1-4, Ross Brandt 0-2, Charles Rosckes 0-2 ... QB sacks: Markgraf 1, Rosckes 1 ... Tackle for loss: Brandt ... Blocked kick: Hoelscher
First downs: 13 ... Rushing: 45-135 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 11-27-120-2 ... Fumbles lost: 1 ... Penalties: 9-59
Rushing: Reggie Ross 9-25, Karson Pike 6-11, Lynn Changg 5-4, Brandon Schladweiler 3-4, Daryl Calhoun 5-(-3) .... Passing: Pike 9-21-109-2 .... Receiving: Wyatt Carr 3-22, Changg 3-19, Jacob Kramer 2-69 .... Punting: Nick Edwards 8-29.0
NEXT -- Ridgewater: 1:30 Saturday, home, Rochester.