Football: RCTC season recap
2015 RCTC FOOTBALL SEASON RECAP
Rochester Community and Technical College is 11-0 and ranked No. 2 in the nation among junior college football teams heading into the Mississippi Bowl.
The Yellowjackets face No. 1 Northwest Mississippi at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Mississippi Bowl, the junior college national championship game in Biloxi, Miss.
Here is a game-by-game recap of the 2015 RCTC football season.
RCTC 54, NCSCS 17
Quarterback Nick Rooney completed 25 of 36 passes for 311 yards with four touchdowns and an interception. Rooney also ran for a touchdown. Terrance Bowers caught six passes for 130 yards and a TD while Jalen Esters had nine catches for 93 and two TDs. RCTC scored twice on special teams as Lakye Alston had a 73-yard punt return for a touchdown and running back Devon Robinson recovered a muffed punt in the end zone. Robinson also rushed for 75 yards on 14 carries.
RCTC 51, Minnesota West 6
Rooney completed 15 of 24 attempts for 357 yards and three TDs, all in the first half, and one interception. He scored on a 1-yard sneak late in the first half. Bowers snared five passes for 192 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His TDs came from 26 and 90 yards out, both in the second quarter. Esters added five catches for 110 yards and a TD grab. Cody Stanger, of Stewartville, and James Lassa sparked the RCTC defense. Stanger had two interceptions, and he returned one for a 43-yard touchdown. Lassa also scored a touchdown on a 42-yard interception return.
RCTC 43, Central Lakes 40
RCTC didn't secure the win until cornerback Billy Kellogg intercepted a pass in the end zone in the final minute of play. Rooney was 29-for-45 passing for 517 yards with five touchdowns and one interception. Patrick Bolton returned to the lineup after starting the season in Dodge City, Kan., and he had four catches for 64 yards and a touchdown grab. Connor Watts had 10 catches for 61 yards and a touchdown, Esters had nine catches for 178 and a TD and Bowers had four catches for 185 yards and two TDs. Robinson had 130 yards rushing and one TD. RCTC rolled up 665 yards of offense.
RCTC 76, Vermilion 7
Rooney was 18-for-26 passing for 302 yards with five touchdowns and one interception as the Yellowjackets rolled. RCTC led 43-0 at the half with Rooney throwing three TDs in the first 30 minutes. Bolton had five catches for 76 yards and two touchdowns. Cody Scherff, Bowers and Esters all caught two passes and each had a TD. Running back Robinson rushed for one TD and caught a TD pass. Brandon Peters returned a kickoff 81 yards for a touchdown and added a fumble return for another score. Victor Rivera had an interception return for a TD.
RCTC 54, Itasca 18
Rooney tied his own single-game school record as he threw seven touchdown passes. The sophomore also ran for another score. He finished with 428 yards passing. Bolton had 10 catches for 112 yards and caught four touchdown passes. Watts, Esters and running back Robinson also caught TD passes. Robinson also rushed for 98 yards on 13 carries and the Yellowjackets finished with 685 yards of offense. Stanger had six solo tackles, including one sack, and five assisted tackles.
RCTC 59, Fond du Lac 8
Robinson rushed for a modest 33 yards, but he scored on three short touchdown runs in the first half as RCTC rolled in its final regular-season home game. Rooney passed for 424 yards as he was 25-for-39 with three touchdowns and an interception. Easters caught eight passes for 134 yards with a TD, while Bolton added six catches for 72 yards and a score. London Covington caught a 78-yard TD pass and Lassa scored his second defensive TD of the season with an 8-yard fumble return.
RCTC 71, Mesabi Range 13
Rooney broke his own school record, of seven, when he threw eight touchdown passes in the victory. He completed 31 of 39 passes for 352 yards. Esters was on the receiving end of three of the touchdown passes and he had eight catches for 84 yards. Bolton caught six passes for 78 yards and two touchdowns, Covington had four catches for 56 yards and one TD, Bowers had four catches for 26 yards and a TD and tight end Scherff, of Albert Lea, had two catches for 50 yards and a TD. On defense, the Yellowjackets picked off five passes and Diondre Green and Terrick McKenney both had interception returns for touchdowns. McKenney had two interceptions while Kellogg and Roman Coats added one each.
RCTC 51, Ridgewater 13
The Yellowjackets capped their perfect regular season with an easy win on the road. Rooney completed 21 of 31 passing for 373 yards and three touchdowns, all to Esters. Esters caught three TD passes for the second straight game to run his season total to 13. He finished with five catches for 185 yards. Covington (six catches for 103 yards) and Bolton both caught one TD pass. Bowers had five catches for 45 yards. Rooney ran his eight-game season total to 40 TD passes. Zeek Carr paced the defense with three interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. Stanger had 13 tackles and Coats added nine.
MCAC state quarterfinals
RCTC 30, Fond du Lac 18
The Yellowjackets had a tough game in their playoff opener after beating Fond du Lac by 51 points just two weeks earlier. RCTC trailed 6-3 at the half before busting loose for three TDs and 20 points in the third quarter. Rooney threw TD passes to Bowers and Bolton in the third quarter and Montrel Moore broke free for a 40-yard scoring run. Rooney finished 23-for-35 for 240 yards and three TDs. Bolton caught 12 passes for 127 yards and two TDs and Bowers had five catches for 57 yards.
MCAC state semifinals
RCTC 55, Dakota College 0
Rooney and Esters hooked up for four TD passes, two in the first quarter, as the Yellojackets rolled in the state semifinal game. Rooney finished 24-for-29 for 337 yards with seven touchdowns and no interceptions. Esters had six catches for 133 yards, Bolton had five catches for 58 yards and two scores while Covington had five catches for 74 yards and a TD. Drake Freeman led the way with eight catches for 72 yards and Moore rushed eight times for 81 yards.
MCAC state finals
RCTC 45, NDSCS 41
RCTC had to rally for the second time during the state playoffs. This time the Yellowjackets trailed 41-22 going into the fourth quarter before they scored three straight touchdowns — and 23 points — to complete the comeback. Rooney threw three straight TD passes in the fourth quarter, all to Bolton. The pair hooked up for the winning score with just 2:18 remaining. RCTC had to overcome nine turnovers. Rooney was 37-for-58 for 510 yards with five TDs and five interceptions. The five TDs gave Rooney 55 for the season, which is an NJCAA single-season record. Bolton had single-game RCTC record 14 catches for 223 yards and three TDs, Esters had seven catches for 108 yards and a TD and Covington had four catches for 44 yards and a TD. Alston picked off two passes for RCTC and sealed the win by recovering a fumble on the kickoff after the Yellowjackets took the lead late in the fourth quarter.