Posted On: 09/1/18 6:09 AM

The game started as a sleepy, sloppy first game of the season for Breck and Columbia Heights. It got interesting late and forced one of Minnesota’s best all-around athletes to step up. Breck’s David Roddy did just that – on both sides of the ball – to help his team to a 30-20 home victory over the Hylanders.

Breck’s missed opportunities in the first half prevented the Mustangs from putting the game away in the first half. After a three and out by Columbia Heights to start the game, Roddy threw an interception – the first of four turnovers.

“We didn’t make it easy on ourselves with four turnovers,” Breck head coach Jon Martin said, “but our kids made plays when they needed to. We are happy with the win, but we have a lot of work to do.”

On their next drive, the Mustangs’ offense took advantage of good field position and moved into the red zone but could only manage a field goal.

Moving mainly on the ground, Breck was in Columbia Heights’ territory again but was faced with a fourth and five. Roddy rolled out and found senior wide receiver Ethan Guell – who had beat one on one coverage on the outside – for not only a first down but a touchdown.

The defense forced another punt, and the Breck offense was moving the ball again. With a minute to play in the first half, Roddy completed a pass down the middle of the field, but instead of first and goal, the Hylanders forced and recovered a fumble inside the ten yard-line.

Coming out of the locker room to start the second half the Mustangs drove into the red zone. In a bit of foreshadowing, Roddy had to go off the field for the play because of cramps in his legs. Backup quarterback Alex McKenna threw a strike over the middle for a first down but Breck coughed the ball up again, and the Hylanders came up with the ball inside the five-yard line.

The Columbia Heights’ offense finally found its stride. They put together a 95-yard touchdown drive to cut the Breck lead to 10-6. Running back Antonio Triplett Jr. started to find room behind his offensive line to chew up yards. The running game set up a deep pass from quarterback Aaron Severson to Ben Rogotzke that got Columba Heights down to the five. Rogotzke made a great adjustment on the ball to make the catch.

Three plays later Severson found Isaac Becker in the end zone to cut the deficit to 10-6.

Breck’s offense would respond – immediately.

On the first play of the drive, Roddy found running back Elijah Zackery down the seam for an 80-yard touchdown.

Columbia Heights continued to roll on the offensive side of the ball and was on the move again. Part of their success came from the physical running game that was starting to wear down the Mustangs’ defense, but Breck was having trouble keeping healthy players on the field. At least a half-dozen players left for portions of the game due to cramps. That meant a lot of young players were forced to play.

“We kept cramping up. We had five or six kids out with cramps,” Martin said. “Then you are going with second and third string players.” 

“It was a next man up philosophy,” Roddy said. “We always remind the freshmen and sophomores that you could go in at any time. You are one play away from going in.”

Severson found Rogotzke again – this time for a 39-yard touchdown pass. Along with Severson’s two-point conversion run Columbia Heights kept the pressure on the home Mustangs. They would really put the pressure on when freshman defensive lineman Spencer Alvarez picked off a quick slant pass to give his offense the ball near midfield with eight minutes to play in the game.

Columbia Heights was faced with a fourth and six just over mid-field mid-way through the fourth quarter. The Severson to Rogotzke connection hit again – this time with a sliding catch from Rogotzke to pick up the first down. Rogotzke would finish the drive with a 23-yard touchdown catch to give the Hylanders their first lead of the game with five minutes to play.

Down 20-17, the Breck offense saved its best and most consistent play when they needed it most. Guell caught a ball in the flat, made a few moves and picked up 25 yards. Zackery took another short pass and turned it into a first down. Peter Mesna was the next Roddy target as they kept moving the chains. Roddy found Zackery down the sidelines to re-take the lead from 38-yards out.

“The offensive line kept me clean and gave me enough time to make the correct read,” Roddy said about the game-winning drive. “Elijah and I read it right. There was nobody in the deep half and the throw was on the money and Elijah made an athletic play.”

With three minutes to go, Roddy put an exclamation point on the game. From his defensive end position, the senior read a route into the flat and made a one-handed interception that he was able to convert into a touchdown to give his team a 30-20 lead and an opening night victory.