Elks spoil Bluejacket Football’s home opener

The fancy new scoreboard at George Larson Field got a workout when visiting Elk River held off Cambridge-Isanti 44-36 Sept. 9, ending a long loss-streak to the Bluejackets. The Elks, rebuilding after a tough 2010 season, are now 2-0 in the Mississippi 8, while C-I began 0-1 (0-2 all).

Bluejacket offensive linemen Elliot Simon, Jon Knowlton and Ben Zins worked on pass protection against the Elks' front in the Sept. 9 home opener.

Elk River jumped out to a 22-0 lead. Moses Saygbe scored on a 4-yard run after Austin Larson tore off on a 60-yard counter on the first play from scrimmage. The Elks stopped the Jackets on a fourth-down play near midfield, then they finished off the short scoring drive on a 2-yard run from Dylan Chambers. Just into the second quarter on a 3rd-and-19, the Jackets attempted a lateral pass in the flats which fell incomplete, with the Elks recovering the rolling football in the end zone.

The Jackets finished off a 79-yard scoring drive with a 5-yard TD run by Cole Bakke, cutting the deficit to 22-7 which stood through halftime. C-I received the kickoff to begin the third quarter and quickly scored on a 62-yard pass from Clayton Jennissen to Jordan Locken. That began a stack of alternating scores between the teams.

ER’s Conner Hanson returned an interception 82 yards for a TD. Ryan Epsen hauled in a 35-yard TD pass for the Jackets. Saygbe broke off a 32-yard TD run, then Chance Laidly scored for C-I on a 2-yard run. What turned into the clincher was Saygbe tearing off another scoring sprint of 40 yards.

Jordan Locken returned three kickoffs for a 15.7 average and scored on a 62-yard catch-and-run against the Elks.

The Jackets closed the gap one more time on a 23-yard TD reception by Travis Holt, playing with an injured left hand.

“We talked all week about responding to adversity and how would we respond as a team to adversity. We definitely had adversity strike many times throughout the game, and the players could have folded or hung their heads, but instead they chose to battle back.  As a coaching staff, we were really proud of the effort and never-give-up mentality of the team,” said C-I Coach Mike Hennen.

Bakke led the C-I rushing attack with 106 yards on 14 carries. Adding yards on the ground were Trent Chromy (46 yds), Locken (43 yds) and Jennissen (33 yds). Jennissen completed 16-of-27 passes for 210 yards, with Ryan Epsen leading the receivers with 7 catches for 82 yards.

The Jackets will look to get off to a better start when they travel to Buffalo Sept. 16.

“Buffalo has a strong running game which they boast every year.  Colton Haight is a three-year starter at fullback. We will need to control the line of scrimmage to stop the running game,” scouted Coach Hennen.

Mississippi 8 Football

Elk River 2-0, 2-0; Rogers 1-0, 2-0; St. Michael-Alb. 1-0, 2-0; Becker 1-1, 1-1; Buffalo 1-1, 1-1; Monticello 0-1, 1-1; Cambridge-Isanti 0-1, 0-2; Big Lake 0-2, 0-2.