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RCTC 'picks' up home victory over Mesabi Range as defense intercepts six passes

The RCTC defense had six interceptions and forced seven turnovers in a 42-19 victory over Mesabi Range on Saturday in junior college football.

RCTC quarterback Sylas Christie.jpg
RCTC quarterback Sylas Christie warms up during the Yellowjackets' game against Mesabi Range on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022 at RCTC. Christie threw for 198 yards and a touchdown as RCTC posted a 42-19 victory.
Guy N. Limbeck / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — The Rochester Community and Technical College defense got pick happy on Saturday.

The Yellowjackets had six interceptions and also returned a fumble for a touchdown in a 42-19 victory over Mesabi Range in MCAC junior college football on RCTC's homecoming day.

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“Creating havoc, that’s what we do,” RCTC linebacker Andrew Eriks said. “That was huge for us. We all felt we were lacking in the last couple of weeks in the turnover department, so not only did we get turnovers in the crucial moments of this game, it just kept coming and coming and coming.”

The loss snapped RCTC's losing streak at two games and improved the Yellowjackets to 2-2. Mesabi Range (2-1) entered ranked fifth in the nation among Division III junior college teams.

Deleon Gardner and Teris Consonery both had two interceptions for RCTC while Eriks had three sacks. Elijah Childs opened the scoring for RCTC by returning a fumble 25 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. Joseph Tarnue capped a wild second half when he returned an interception 41 yards for a TD on the final play of the game.

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Aside from the seven turnovers, the RCTC defense scored two touchdowns and also produced a safety.

“That defense is amazing,” Yellowjackets coach Isaac Terrance Sr. said.

Mesabi Range entered averaging more than 400 yards a game on offense. The Norse got its passing game going in the second half, but RCTC held them to 43 total yards the first half, including minus-14 on the ground.

Andrew Eriks Mug.jpg
Andrew Eriks

“Our front seven, we work really well with each other,” Eriks said. “I think we finally got back to our roots of just playing our kind of football, getting pressure, getting to the quarterback, having fun.”

While the RCTC defense is playing solid, the offense has some catching up to do. The Yellowjackets had a slow first half on offense. RCTC led 9-0 at the half on a defensive TD and a safety.

“It feels good, but we have to get going on offense,” Isaac Terrance Sr. said. “On offense, for the past four weeks we’ve come out slow. Once the offense matches the defense’s intensity, we’ll be fine.”

Both offenses got going in a wild second half that was filled with big plays.

RCTC quarterback Sylas Christie was a modest 13-for-29, but he threw for 198 yards and a touchdown, a 77-yarder to Neltrevon Price in the fourth quarter.

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“We made some changes during practice and it definitely showed out on the field,” Christie said. “We were down guys, but it’s next guy up and it worked out.”

Running back LaQwan Sim rushed for 101 yards on 30 carries and a pair of TDs for the Yellowjackets. RCTC did lose three fumbles.

“I would like to cut some of the turnovers that we’ve been having,” Isaac Terrance Sr. said. “Overall I was pleased, but not too pleased.”

The Yellowjackets special teams had a big game. The unit blocked a punt to set up a touchdown and Jaylon Jackson had a huge return. He took a kickoff back 88 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to extend RCTC's lead to 22-7 right after Mesabi Range got its first TD to close within eight.

“I thought that return by Jaylon Jackson was big for us,” Isaac Terrance Sr. said. “Because they scored and it was a little uneasy. But then he brought one back and I think that was the game changer right there.”

RCTC finished with 322 total yards and Mesabi had 243. The Yellowjackets allowed just 12 yards rushing on 21 attempts.

“I think we all just showed up ready to play,” Eriks said. “It was the first home game in a couple of weeks and that really helped out. We realized how important this game was to get to our end goal.”

Christie also noted it was a big win for the Yellowjackets, and he thought the offense had let the team down in the past two games, which were both losses.

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“The offense is improving every week and today was a big step and it was against a good team,” Christie said. “Basically every game from here out is a playoff game. We have to win out.”

RCTC will host Minnesota West at 1:30 p.m. this coming Saturday.

RCTC 42, Mesabi Range 19

Mesabi — 0-0-7-12 — 19

RCTC — 0-9-13-20 — 42

Second quarter

RCTC — Elijah Childs 25 fumble return (Fernando Vera kick), 13:33.

RCTC — Safety, Mesabi holding in end zone, 2:53.

Third quarter

RCTC — LaQwan Sims 6 run (kick failed), 10:11.

Mesabi — Torris Childs 14 pass from Trinate Jacobs (Amazi Williams kick), 3:02.

RCTC — Jaylon Jackson 88 kickoff return (Vera kick), 2:50.

Fourth quarter

RCTC — Sims 1 run (Vera kick), 11:46.

RCTC — Neltrevon Price 77 pass from Sylas Christie (Vera kick), 7:52.

Mesabi — Aundreus Griffin 70 pass from Charles Fiuza Jr. (pass failed), 7:38.

Mesabi — Chancellor Davis 12 pass from Fiuza Jr. (pass failed), 5:59.

RCTC — Joseph Tarnue 41 interception return (no conversion attempted), 0:00.

TEAM STATISTICS

Mesabi — RCTC

First downs 12 — 16

Total net yards 243 — 322

Rushing yards 21-12 — 43-124

Passing yards 231 — 198

Pass att-comp.-int. 19-38-6 — 13-30-0

Fumbles lost 2-1 — 3-3

Penalties yards 11-87 — 12-122

Punts/ave. 5-48.8 — 7-34.0

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing

Mesabi — Charles Fiuza Jr. 1-14, Torris Childs 3-12, Maximus McArthur 4-9, Amazi Williams 1-1, Jose Magarin 1-(-2), Jaheim Atkinson 3-(-3), Jemal Brown 3-(-7), Trinate Jacobs 5-(-12). RCTC — LaQwan Sims 30-101, Neltrevon Price 2-15, Jamare Williams 2-8, Terence Campbell 2-6, Sylas Christie 3-4, Moses Hancock 2-(-4) , Datelle Straub 2-(-6).

Passing

Mesabi — Trinate Jacobs 8 completions, 19 attempts, 3 interceptions, 1 touchdown, 85 yards; Jemal Brown 5-11-2-0, 38 yards; Charles Fiuza Jr. 6-8-1-2, 108 yards. RCTC — Sylas Christie 13-29-0,1, 198 yards; Neltrevon Price 0-1-0-0, 0 yards.

Receiving

Mesabi — Aundreus Griffin 7-149, Jaheim Atkinson 5-17, Justice Johnson 2-15, Jose Magarin 2-6, Torris Childs 1-14, Maximus McArthur 1-13, Chancellor Davis 1-12, Amazi Williams 1-1. RCTC — Neltrevon Price 5-103, Yaach Chuol 3-31, Jaylon Jackson 2-23, Alonn Salman 1-24, Jamare Williams 1-11, LaQwan Sims 1-6.

Missed field goals: RCTC, Vera (42 SH).

Guy N. Limbeck is a Rochester native who has been working at a daily newspaper since 1981. He has worked at the Post Bulletin since 1999. Readers can reach Guy at 507-285-7724 or glimbeck@postbulletin.com.
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