RCTC again topples Ridgewater
Playoff football is all about surviving and advancing. Rochester Community and Technical College
did both with ease on Saturday.
Facing Ridgewater at home for the second time in three weeks, RCTC rolled to a 52-7 victory in the MCAC state quarterfinals. The Yellowjackets entered as the No. 2 seed from the Southern Division and Ridgewater as the No. 3 seed from the South.
The win was the fifth straight for RCTC and improves the team to 8-1.
"We still have a lot of work to do, but we're ready to play," RCTC quarterback Kevin Monkam said.
Monkam, one of four quarterbacks used the the Yellowjackets, was 14-for-28 for 224 yards passing with two touchdowns and an interception.
"We didn't change anything (from two weeks ago)," RCTC coach Derrick Hintz said. "We just call our plays and the defense came to play."
Jake Kirsch was used prominently for the first time at QB two weeks ago when RCTC beat Ridgewater 47-15. Kirsch rushed for 172 yards and three TDs out of the shotgun formation in that game. This time Kirsch was again effective, rushing 16 times for 58 yards and a TD while completing 6 of 10 passes for 47 yards and another score.
"We played them before," Monkam said. "Because of the Wild Kirsch (formation), we expected then to stack the box so we were ready to throw.
"That's dangerous right there," Monkam added of Kirsch's ability to run. "And Jake can pass it too so that's a nice change up to the defense."
Receivers Josh Zitzmann and Randall Bailey both had big games for the Yellowjackets. Zitzmann was stellar for the second straight week with six grabs for 151 yards. Bailey had eight catches for 88 yards, including a 12-yard scoring reception from Monkam in the first quarter.
RCTC scored the game's first 17 points, 10 in the first quarter, and the defense set the tone. The Yellowjackets knocked Ridgewater quarterback Cody Jaeger out of the game on the first series and then proceeded to force nine turnovers and shut down the run.
"We came right out and stopped the run and then put the pressure on (the quarterback)," RCTC defensive end Robby Mackesey.
Mackesey had two of RCTC's seven sacks and forced a fumble. Reggie Webb also recorded a pair of sacks.
Caleb Leichtnam intercepted a pair of passes in the first half to set up scoring drives for RCTC. Leichtnam now has five interceptions this season and snatching a nation-record 20 a year ago. Christian Foster had an interception and 34-yard return to set up a TD in the second half.
RCTC finished with five interceptions, four in the first half, and recovered four fumbles.
"That's huge to put the ball back in the offense's hands," Mackesey said. "It creates more opportunities for them to score."
"Turnovers create more chances for the offense," he said. "And we got a lot of scores off turnovers."
Hintz said RCTC's defensive line had a strong game. The 17th-ranked Yellowjackets held Ridgewater (5-4) to 203 total yards and just 46 yards rushing on 36 attempts. Martell Baker, one of the state's top rushers, had 51 yards on 14 carries.
"When we do our job, that helps out the linebackers," Mackesey said.
RCTC led 24-7 at the half and then put the game away with three touchdowns in the third quarter. Kirsch was involved in two of those TDs with a touchdown run and pass.
The Yellowjackets finished with 458 yards of offense, including 305 passing.
Despite the lopsided win, Hintz sees plenty of room for improvement. RCTC had 15 penalties for 124 yards on Saturday.
"There were a lot of mental errors today," Hintz said. "It's the playoffs those are the kind of mistakes that can beat us. We need to clean them up."
RCTC will now play at Fond du Lac, the top seed from the Northern Division, in the state semifinals this coming Saturday.