The Rochester Community and Technical College defense did a lot of bending on Saturday. But when they needed to make big plays, the Yellowjackets defense came through.
It wasn't pretty, but the Yellowjackets held on to defeat Fond du Lac 36-27 and clinched a MCAC state playoff berth in the process.
"Good teams find a way to win," RCTC coach Derrick Hintz said. "The defense buckled down when they had to, offense moved the ball when they had to and special teams did what they had to do."
The Yellowjackets won despite an outstanding game by backup Fond du Lac quarterback Anthony Boyd. After Danny Jackson left midway through the first quarter, Boyd was 29-for-60 passing for 457 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for 108 yards on 22 carries.
"That No. 4 who came in, he's as good as we've seen in this league," Hintz said of Boyd.
With Boyd guiding the offense, Fond du Lac rolled up 631 yards of offense. But RCTC collected nine sacks, forced four turnovers and had a pair of big goal-line stands.
"They had a quick tempo offense which kind of wore us down a little bit," Yellowjackets linebacker Ken Bohnencamp said. "But we just missed some plays here and there that we need to make."
Fond du Lac had 392 yards of offense in the second half. The Thunder (3-4) were in catchup mode after RCTC took a 20-7 lead at the half. Fond du Lac also relied heavily on the pass as its two QBs combined for a whopping 70 passes.
"We can't take plays off," Hintz said. "They have to do the things that are called."
"The sky's the limit once we fix our mistakes," Bohnencamp said.
Bohnencamp had one of RCTC's three interceptions as did Jaylen Lewis and Denny Nwachi while Larry Lecount recovered a fumble. Prentiss Sayeweh and Diego Muniz both had a pair of sacks.
"They showed up to play too," Bohnencamp said of the defensive line. "Sometimes we lacked here and there, but we got the job done."
Special teams got RCTC started as Joshua Miser blocked a punt in the first quarter and Korean Gosha recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown.
Yellowjackets QB Justin Lynn hooked up with Gerald Sama on a pair of TD passes in the second quarter, covering 30 and 80 yards. Sama finished with three catches for 126 yards while Lynn was a modest 11-for-32 for 286 yards and three touchdowns. He also tossed a 31-yard strike to Calvin Dixon early in the third quarter for a 26-7 RCTC lead.
But Fond du Lac didn't give up as Boyd threw a trio of TD passes in the second half, including two to Roderick Washington in a one-minute span in the third quarter.
"That was the No. 1 thing, we didn't tackle that well," Hintz said. "We've got the puzzle pieces. We've just got to put them together."
The RCTC defense gave up a lot of yards, but it did have a pair of big goal-line stands. The Yellowjackets stopped the Thunder at the RCTC 1 in the third quarter and then at the 4 in the fourth quarter with the Yellowjackets holding a slim 29-27 lead with 7:55 left.
"I think that just shows how we play Jacket football here," Bohnencamp said. "When it's on the line, we're ready."
Following the stop, RCTC drove 96 yards for the clinching touchdown. KJ Franklin set up the score with a 55-yard reception and then Israel Lozoya popped a 31-yard touchdown run with 4:46 to play.
"I was built for this," Lozoya said after the TD run. He finished with 139 yards on just 15 carries. It was his third straight game with more than 100 yards rushing.
"Speedy's (Lozoya) is something special, there's no doubt about that," Hintz said.
The Yellowjackets have now won five straight games to improve to 5-1. RCTC will host Itasca (5-2) at 1:30 p.m. this coming Saturday.
"That's a huge game," said RCTC backup quarterback Cody Hogan, who converted a 2-point conversion run after the team's second TD against Fond du Lac.
"We just need to stay focused more and pay attention to the details and we'll be fine," Bohnencamp said.
RCTC 36, Fond du Lac 27
Fond du Lac#0#7#12#8#—#27
RCTC — Korean Gosha recovered blocked punt in end zone (kick blocked), 5:41.
RCTC — Gerald Sama 30 pass from Justin Lynn (Cody Hogan run), 11:03.
FDL — Mason Klinger 62 pass from Anthony Boyd (Justice Bice kick), 10:47.
RCTC — Sama 30 pass from Lynn (kick blocked), 4:23.
RCTC — Calvin Dixon 31 pass from Lynn (run failed), 13:33.
FDL — Roderick Washington 29 pass from Boyd (kick blocked), 6:44.
FDL — Washington 6 pass from Boyd (run failed), 5:43
RCTC —Braulio Arango-Aguilar 28 FG, 0:44.
FDL — Klinger 13 pass from Boyd (Washington pass from Boyd), 11:54.
RCTC — Israel Lozoya 31 run (Arango-Aguilar kick), 4:46.
Fond du Lac: Anthony Boyd 22-108, Justine Bice 10-27, Danny Jackson 3-7, Team 2-(-5). RCTC: Israel Lozoya 15-139, Gregory Hoard 3-26, Cody Hogan 3-17, AmenRashan Elzie 2-5, Justin Lynn 13-(-27).
Fond du Lac: Anthony Boyd 29 comp., 60 att., 4 TD, 2 int., 457 yards; Danny Jackson 4-10-0-1, 37 yards. RCTC: Justin Lynn 11-32-3-1, 286 yards; Dylan VanBoxel 0-2-0-2, 0 yards; Cody Hagen 0-1-0-0, 0 yards.
Fond du Lac: Mason Klinger 11-163, Justice Bice 9-128, Dominic Smith 7-87, Roderick Washington 4-69, Le'Quayvious Green 2-47. RCTC: Gerald Sama 3-126, Severyn Foster 3-51, KJ Franklin 1-55, Calvin Dixon 1-31, Levi Bulfer 1-14, AmenRashan Elzie 1-12, Israel Lozoya 1-(-3).