MOUNTAIN IRON — Mesabi Range put together one of its best games of the season Saturday as they blew past Fond du Lac, 64-14, and secured the conference championship for the first time since 2010.
The Norsemen were potent on both sides of the ball. Mesabi racked up 525 yards of total offense (441 rushing and 84 passing), while the defense limited the Thunder to just 14 points on a cold and sometimes snowy day in Mountain Iron.
Mesabi Range is now 7-0 in the Minnesota College Athletic Conference and closes out the regular season Saturday at North Dakota State College of Science.
“That was the first conference championship Mesabi Range football has had since 2010,’’ head coach Tom Inforzato said on the sidelines following the game. “I was actually a member on the staff then as an assistant under (former head coach) Dan Lind. “That was a special one (today). It’s almost been 10 years.’’
“Overall this is a very big step for this program and continuing our momentum into the playoffs. This means home field advantage for us in the playoffs. To get to state you have to come through Mesabi Range, which is pretty cool.’’
Next week’s game is still important, though.
“It’s a big game because we want to go into the playoffs not on a bad note,’’ Inforzato said. “We want to stay strong and play well and come out of there with a W.’’
The Norsemen grabbed a 36-14 lead after the first half due in large part to a potent running game and stout defense.
“We were able to run the ball effectively. That’s really the strong point on our team. Our backs are really very talented. We’ve got an offensive line that’s pretty darn aggressive.’’
Once the Norse got up on the Thunder, Inforzato said they were able to “put the pedal down.’’
The defensive effort — including five interceptions — was equally aggressive. The Norse did give up two touchdown passes in the first half, but pitched a scoreless second half.
“Overall, the defense played well as usual,’’ the coach said. “I think we played the most complete game we played today versus Fond du Lac,’’ who was coming off a really strong performance against Rochester.
On the cold and windy day, though, the Mesabi running game was a huge key in the win.
Torrey Patterson carried the rock 17 times for 184 yards and two touchdowns; Markell Rasher had 92 yards and two scores on seven attempts; and Myles Ratliff scored twice as he rushed for 86 yards on 12 carries.
The Norsemen take on NDSCS at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.