by Jake Schroer
Contributing Sports Writer
Big plays in the first half led to a big lead for the Rogers Royals as they routed the Cambridge-Isanti Blue Jackets 45-24 in Friday night’s home opening game in Rogers. It was the first victory of the season for the Royals.
Collin Murray ran for 160 yards on 18 carries, and his first touchdown of the night gave the Royals a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
Rogers scored 28 points in the second quarter to race out to a 35-0 lead. Murray scored his second touchdown on a 25-yard run, Reece Meskimen made it 21-0 with a 31-yard run, Brayden Mateuszcyk returned a punt for a touchdown, and Hunter Stull returned an interception for a touchdown.
Rogers extended the lead yet again with a third quarter touchdown run by Nick O’Neil, making the score 42-0. Kaden Slepica finally got the Blue Jackets on the board with a 55-yard touchdown scamper, but the damage had already been done.
The Blue Jackets scored twice more in the fourth quarter as the Royals cruised to their first win of the 2017 season.
After two straight games of passing the ball, the ground game became the main focus of the home opener. Several different runners helped the Royals total 287 rushing yards on the evening. The Blue Jackets ran for 338 yards in defeat, with Slepica (151 yards) and Jett Gaudette (128 yards) leading the charge.
Cole Larson was efficient in his opportunities, completing seven of eleven passes for 116 yards and throwing no interceptions to hinder the Royals. Eli Solberg led receivers with four catches for 54 yards.
Royals head coach Marc Franz said that the team definitely played its best half of football all season and that everything seemed to click.
“We’re getting closer and closer to having 11 guys doing their job on all the plays, which makes life a lot easier,” Franz said. The Royals expected a physical battle from the Blue Jackets, and it was a surprise, Franz said, to jump out to a huge lead right away.
“I was happy how our kids took advantage of a couple of breaks and took control of the game early.”
With the win, Rogers sits at 1-2 overall, 1-1 in the Blue Division of the North Central District. Next up is another home game against the St. Francis Saints (1-2) on Friday night.