Pick-six foils Ironmen on road

by Tom Coombe -

When a game is decided by two points, a 14-point swing can loom large.
Such was the case for the Vermilion Ironmen last Saturday in Brainerd, where Central Lakes held on for a 10-8 community college football victory.
The biggest play in the Eastern Division opener came in the second quarter, when the unbeaten Raiders scored their only touchdown.
It came on defense and wiped out a Vermilion scoring drive as the Raiders’ Adrian Jackson stepped in front of a pass and returned it 88 yards for his team’s only touchdown.
The score was the difference as Central Lakes, ranked 12th nationally, improved to 3-0 for the season.
Vermilion remains a bit snakebit at 1-2, with two losses by a combined five points.
The Ironmen have also outgained their foes in all three contests, including a 304-177 edge in total yards against Central Lakes.
Despite that edge, VCC was kept out of the end zone until the final minute when Breon Jackson hooked up with DeReiko Meridy on a 56-yard scoring play.
Vermilion wouldn’t get the ball back as the Raiders recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
It was a game of field position, and Central Lakes held the advantage for much of the game.
The Raiders took Vermilion’s running game away, holding the Ironmen to no net yards on the ground.
Jackson was 25-for-47 through the air for 264 yards, while Glenn Smith passed for another 40, but Central Lakes stopped drive after drive.
The Raiders got on the board in the second quarter on a 27-yard field goal by Antoine Akundu. The drive was aided by a pair of 15-yard penalties against VCC.
Vermilion would answer, with a pass interference call extending a march to the Raider 12.
That’s when Jackson came up with the interception that resulted in the touchdown and a 10-0 Central Lakes lead at the half.
In the third quarter, one potential Vermilion scoring drive was curtailed by a sack, while the Ironmen got to the Central Lakes 13 on another.
Again, the Raider defense stiffened in the red zone and kept Vermilion off the board.
The Ironmen finally broke through on the Jackson-to-Meridy connection, but there was little time to capitalize.
Meridy’s touchdown was part of a four-catch, 114-yard afternoon. Both Smith and Jackson Long had seven receptions, combining for over 100 yards.
The Ironmen held the Raiders to 84 yards rushing and 93 yards passing.
Vermilion is back in action today at Itasca, while a Parents’ Weekend showdown with Rochester looms on Saturday, Sept. 30 (1:30 p.m.) at Ely School Stadium.