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Ridgewater upends Vikings in debut

Itasca Vikings WR Javon Montgomery is driven to the turf after a short gain by Warriors defenders, from left, Dennis Archibald, Quieron King and Adihia Bell in the second quarter. 1 / 2
Warriors running back Dominick Wise crossed the goal line for a 26-7 lead, outrunning Itasca defensive back Dapree Wells in the fourth quarter at Hodapp Field. 2 / 2

                WILLMAR—Sophomore quarterback Tony Ayala threw for three touchdowns and freshman running back Dominick Wise scooted 46 yards for another as the Ridgewater College Warriors itemized Itasca College of Grand Rapids 27-7 on Saturday at Hodapp Field.

Ayala (Minneapolis Washburn), who started two games last fall, connected with freshman Chris Tidwell (Collinsville, Ill.) on the third play of the game for a catch-and-run down the middle of the field that covered 72 yards in the Warriors' curtainraiser.

Itasca (0-2) answered on their first possession with a 20-yard pass play from Tanner Pepin to Seth Vogt to knot the score 7-7. But that’s all the Vikings would get; the Ridge defense never allowed the visitors to cross the Warriors’ 30 after that.

The Warriors’ offense continued to move the ball but couldn’t finish inside the 20. A 38-yard pass from Ayala to Kelvin Jones (Brunswick, Ga.) put the ball on the Itasca 2. But in four dives, the ball was advanced just four feet and the first half  ended, still 7-7.

The passing game looked sharp but Warriors were unable to get anything going on the ground. Ayala hooked up again with Jones, this time on a 70-yard score at 9:13 of the third for a 13-7 lead. Not long afterwards, Ayala found the sure-handed Tidwell for another score and it was 20-7 starting the fourth on the pleasant, partly-sunny afternoon.

Late in the third, the O-line finally carved some holes for Wise, a 5-foot-8, 210-pound freshman from Madison, Wis. In the fourth period, he broke off his left tackle and outran the secondary to the corner pylon, a TD burst covering 46 yards.

The defense logged numerous sacks and three interceptions, two by freshman Dennis Archibald and the other by second-year starter Adihia Bell.

Despite three inches of rain in the past 36 hours and a high-school game on Friday night, the grassy turf showed little scaring as about 250 fans looked on.

Itasca is expected to be improved after a winless season in 2013 but through two games has been outscored 88-19.

Regardless, Ayala and his receivers put on quite a show. His downfield throws were most often on the money and the intermediate throws were hard and true. While he had good protection, the offensive line clearly has work to do to give the backs a chance.

Ridgewater is home again this Saturday, a 3 p.m. kickoff versus Vermilion, which had a bye, after losing to Rochester 43-12 in Week 1.

Week 2 Scores

NDSCS 66 Mayville State JV 0

Fond du lac 16 Minnesota West 13

Ridgewater 27 Itasca 7

Central Lakes 45 Minn. State Fergus Falls 20

Rochester 48 Mesabi Range 0

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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