Football: 'Flat' Century is flattened by Northfield

Century's Aaron Ajke on the run against Northfield Friday at Century Stadium.

Jon Vik believes there is a difference between being beaten and being flat, and the Rochester Century football coach has seen his team be both in the last two games.

One week after a 50-point loss to Mankato West, which Vik considers to be the best team in the state, the Panthers came out flat in a 37-14 loss to Northfield on a crisp Friday night at Century Stadium.

Northfield (6-1) scored four touchdowns in the first quarter to build a 28-7 lead and the Raiders went on to complete a sweep of all three Rochester teams, all in Rochester, in its first season in the Big Nine Conference. Century (4-3) lost its second straight.

"That first quarter is as flat as we have been all year," Vik said. "We weren't flat last week at Mankato West; they're just that good. Tonight we just didn't play well."

Northfield took its opening possession 61 yards in five plays for a touchdown, with a 48-yard pass play from Tommy McDonald to Luke Harris setting up a 1-yard plunge by Joshua Chlan.


Century lost an interception on its first possession when Joey Eckhoff stepped in front of a Miguel Benjamin pass and returned it 25 yards to the Century 45. Five plays later, the Raiders were up 13-0 after another 5-yard Chlan run.

Century showed some life with its second possession, going 70 yards on six plays and scoring on Benjamin's nifty 25-yard run through a hole on the right side. The sophomore quarterback also had a 15-yard run earlier in the drive.But the momentum didn't last long for the Panthers.

Northfield's Eckhoff returned the ensuing kickoff 86 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown. Two minutes later, after Quinten McGregor blocked a Century punt attempt by Nick O'Brien, the Raiders converted a 13-yard drive in three plays for their fourth score.

"A kick return for a touchdown and a blocked punt deep in our own end," Vik said, shaking his head. "We literally gave them 14 points in a few minutes, and when you play a quality team like Northfield you can't make those mistakes."

Century cut Northfield's lead to two touchdowns with just 1:16 before halftime when senior receiver Darryl Martin made a nice adjustment on a sideline pass from Benjamin, eluded a tackler, and raced in for a 47-yard score.But again the momentum evaporated quickly.

Northfield was able to drive 60 yards in five plays in the last minute for its fifth touchdown of the half. Eckhoff hauled in a 57-yard pass from Meland on the first play of the drive, and Tommy McDonald scored on a quarterback sneak on a 4th-and-goal as time expired in the half.

"I thought a touchdown right before half was really a big key because Century was getting some momentum," said Northfield head coach Bubba Sullivan.

"I thought we played as good a first half as we have all season," he added.


Northfield alternated seniors McDonald and Meland at quarterback and both had success passing the ball, combining for 11 completions and 214 yards. Meland was back after an injury kept him out the last two games.

"They have been platooning like this their entire careers, and they are basically interchangeable," Sullivan said.

Sullivan said it was a good year for Northfield to join the Big Nine.

"We knew we were going to have a good team because we have a lot of seniors," he said.

Northfield's defense made life difficult for the Century running game, holding the Panthers to 63 yards on 38 carries. That included 14 tackles for loss behind the line of scrimmage. Junior back Aaron Ajke needed 17 carries to lead the team with 33 yards.

The game featured big games by the teams' star receivers. Eckhoff, a 6-foot-1 senior, had eight catches for 130 yards and one touchdown to go with his kickoff return. Century's Martin had eight catches for 134 and a TD, plus he made a highlight-reel diving catch for 37 yards in the fourth quarter.

Martin now has 33 receptions for 614 yards and eight TD catches, along with four kick returns for scores. Benjamin finished 12-of-20 for 195 yards with two interceptions to go with his TD.

After an explosive first half, the teams combined for only two points in the second.Century's five second-half possessions yielded two interceptions, two punts and a safety for the Raiders.


"I felt, number one, their offensive line had outstanding pass protection," Vik said. "As far as their defensive line, they did a nice job taking away our running game.

"There were individual plays that were positive, but collectively as a whole we didn't get it done."

Northfield 37, Century 14

Northfield 28 7 0 2 — 37

Century 7 7 0 0 — 14

First Quarter

N — Joshua Chlan 1 run (Issac Stadler kick), 10:10.

Drive: 5 plays, 61 yards, 1:42 elapsed time: Key play: Luke Harris 48 pass from Tommy McDonald to Century 1.


N — Chlan 5 run (kick failed), 6:35.

Drive: 5 plays, 45 yards, 2:38. Key play: Joey Eckhoff 19 pass from McDonald to Century 5.

C — Miguel Benjamin 25 run (Frankie Villeneuve kick), 4:04.

Drive: 6 plays, 70 yards, 2:25. Key play: Benjamin 15 run to Northfield 44 on 2nd-and-10.

N — Eckhoff 86 kickoff return (Luke Harris pass from McDonald) 3:49.

N — Eckhoff 17 pass from Thomas Meland (Stadler kick), 1:22.

Drive: 3 plays, 13 yards, 0:53. Key play: Blocked Century punt gave Northfield possession at Century 13.

Second Quarter


C — Darryl Martin 47 pass from Benjamin (Villenueve kick), 1:16.

Drive: 4 plays, 70 yards, 0:37. Key play: touchdown pass.

N — McDonald 1 run (Stadler kick), 0:00.

Drive: 5 plays, 60 yards, 1:13. Key play: Eckhoff 57 pass from Meland to Century 3.

Fourth quarter

N — Safety, Quinten McGregor tackled Benjamin in the endzone, 9:14.


Northfield Century


First downs 15 16

Total net yards 316 258

Rushes-yards 36-104 38-63

Passing yards 214 195

Comp.-att.-int. 11-18-1 12-20-2

Fumbles-lost 4-1 4-1

Penalties-yards 7-70 3-40

Punts-avg. 4-38 6-28


Rushing — Northfield, Joshua Chlan 13 carries for 61 yards, 2 TDs, Colin Shepley 6-11, Tommy McDonald 9-15, 1 TD, Carver King 3-10, Caleb Metras 4-9, Joey Eckhoff 2-2. Century, Aaron Ajke 17-33, Miguel Benjamin 18-23, Darryl Martin 2-4, Sam Batterson 1-3.

Passing — Northfield, Thomas Meland 7 completions, 10 attempts, 118 yards, 1 TD, 0 interceptions; Tommy McDonald 4-8-90-1-0. Century, Miguel Benjamin 12-20-195-1-2.

Receiving — Northfield, Joey Eckhoff 8 receptions for 130 yards, 1 TD, Luke Harris 3-73, Billy Roecklin 1-11. Century, Darryl Martin 8-134, 1 TD, Alex Beise 2-42, Eric Phillips 1-17, Aaron Ajke 1-2.

10-10 lucas fisher luke harris sj.jpg
Century's Lucas Fisher with the coverage on Luke Harris of Northfield Friday at Century Stadium. Harris bobbles the ball but makes the catch for a touchdown.

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