As soon as Israel “Speedy” Lozoya made the cut and felt his knee buckle, he knew something was wrong. Seriously wrong.

The Rochester Community and Technical College running back, a Mayo grad, suffered a knee injury when the Yellowjackets hosted Minnesota State-Fergus Falls on Oct. 2.

The play occurred late in the first quarter. Lozoya broke loose for a 32-yard run and was trying to make a move on a defender to get more yardage.

“I went to go cut with my right foot, and it just gave out,” he said. “It was the most pain I’ve ever been in in my life.”

As Lozoya was laying on the turf at Rochester Regional Stadium, he realized he'd been seriously hurt.

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“Yeah, because that’s never happened to me before,” he said. “As soon as I tried to get up, it (his knee) just flopped, so I knew something was wrong.”

Israel Lozoya
Israel Lozoya

Lozoya missed last week’s game and had an MRI this week. His worst fears were confirmed. He had suffered an ACL injury and a torn meniscus to his right knee, which will require surgery.

“I can’t even walk on it at this point,” Lozoya said.

The timetable for the surgery is unknown. Lozoya still has lots of swelling in the knee and that has to go down before surgery can occur. The injury derails his season, which was off to a stellar start, and puts his football career in jeopardy.

“Obviously it’s disappointing,” Lozoya said. “I was leading the nation in yards, yards per carry and all-purpose yards. So I thought it was going to be my year. I was hoping to be an All-American.”

In five games and one quarter of another game this season, Lozoya had rushed for 540 yards (8.2 yards per carry) and four touchdowns. He had one game with electric TD runs of 95 and 57 yards. He also averaged 21.6 yards on 10 kickoff returns.

“I guess I will just take it day by day at this point and rehab it,” Lozoya said.

Lozoya had a stellar year for RCTC in 2019 when he led the team in rushing. He was then part of the program in all of 2020 when teams in the MCAC did not play due to COVID-19.

He had high hopes of playing at a four-year school and had drawn interest from colleges this season, especially in the south where some of the RCTC coaches are from. But Lozoya now faces rehabbing from an injury that a doctor told him would take about a year of recovery time.

That means he will likely miss next season, and might have to walk-on if he wants to play at a four-year school.

“I guess I’ll have some decisions to make, if I will play or not in the future,” Lozoya said. “It will be a big decision.”