From top to bottom and start to finish, Northfield coach Brent Yule is unequivocal in his assessment of Friday night’s 28-14 victory at Rochester Century.
“I just felt like we played our most complete game of the year,” Yule said. “That’s obviously what we were hoping for and what we were shooting for.”
Crucially, Yule said, was the Raiders (3-3) didn’t dig themselves into a hole in the opening stages of the game.
Instead, it was Rochester Century (1-5) that first allowed Northfield to take advantage of a mistake. Late in the first quarter, the Panthers snapped the ball over their punter’s head to five the Raiders the ball at the 8-yard line. Then on fourth down, senior Ian Stanton scored on a 3-yard rush to put Northfield up 7-0 with 1 minute, 58 seconds left in the first quarter.
Rochester Century continued to struggled offensively, before Northfield extended its lead to 14-0 with junior Soren Richardson’s 34-yard touchdown pass to senior Tate Journell.
In the second half, Richardson added his second touchdown pass of the game with a 23-yard strike to sophomore Austin Koep for a 21-0 lead.
“It was a little bit of everything,” Yule said of Northfield’s offensive success. “Soren looked really good tonight throwing some quick hit stuff. We just had a nice mix of everything going and I was proud of how we kept fighting. The run game started a little slow, but we kept leaning on them and leaning on them and just wore them down a little bit.”
That gradually improving run game showed up the ice the game away. After Rochester Century scored to cut the deficit to 21-7 at the end of the third quarter, Stanton burst through the line for a 50-yard touchdown run.
Rochester Century added a second touchdown with under a minute to play, but that didn’t diminish a defensive effort that included incterceptions from senior Josh Voight, senior Darrin Kuyper and sophomore Jacob Geiger.
“The wheels got turning a little bit more and the defense played really well the first half,” Yule said. “We shut them down.”
The win not only moved Northfield back to .500, but it was also the team’s third win against a Section 1-5A opponent. Barring anything too unexpected, that means the Raiders are penciled in for the No. 3 seed in the Section 1-5A playoffs and a first-round home game.
“It feels good, but I’d like to see us keep improving and see what we can do here as the season winds down,” Yule said. “The kids have played so hard and worked so hard this year, so I’m just happy for them.”
Before the postseason, however, Northfield still has a pair of tests remaining against non-section opponents.
That includes a game Friday night at home against Class 5A No. 1 Mankato West, which has bulldozed to an undefeated record with the closest game a 30-6 win against Class 5A No. 8 Rochester Mayo.
“It’s the same way we’ve been approaching everything this week and in week’s past,” Yule said. “We’re just worrying about ourselves. They’re a very good football team. I haven’t had a chance to watch a whole lot of them yet, but just from looking at their scores and watching them some when scouting other teams, they’re good, they’re fast, they’re ranked No. 1 and they probably deserve it. We’re going to look to go out, execute our gameplan the best we can, play physical and play for each other.”