Though only worth two points, a safety is one of the most exciting plays in football. Not because it signifies defensive dominance, but because of its rarity.

Jason Smith and the Central Lakes College Raiders special teams unit forced the Northland Pioneers into not one, but two safeties during their 35-0 victory Saturday in Brainerd.

Central Lakes College's Andrew Hallberg (40) lost his helmet in the fray against the Northland Pioneers on Saturday in CLC's home opener. The Raiders won 35-0.

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The first came after the Raiders were forced into a 3-and-out on their second possession. On the punt, smith hunted down the Pioneers' punt returner in the end zone, putting the Raiders up 2-0.

The Raiders' special teams forced another safety during the fourth quarter when the Pioneers' sixth mishandled snap sailed over their place-kicker's head. With a host of Raiders bearing down, the kicker opted to boot the loose ball 12 yards out of the back of the end zone rather than allowing the Raiders to start their next possession inside the redzone.

"(The defense) creates those plays by being in good position, making heads-up plays, and being fundamentally sound," Raiders coach Greg Medeck said. "You couldn't ask for more from them on that standpoint."

CLC running back Dennis Taute (35) rushed the ball against the Northland Pioneers on Saturday at CLC. The Raiders won 35-0.

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With the score still 2-0 in the second quarter, the Pioneers began marching down the field before a mishandled snap found its way into the hands of the Raiders' defense, ending a drive that ground out 69 yards on 11 plays.

The Raiders secondary ended the Pioneers' two other potential scoring drives when Dusty Parker intercepted the ball on the seven to end the first half and Smith jumped a fade route for an interception at the two with just four seconds remaining in the game.

Chase Abfalter added a third interception for the Raiders. He read the option and intercepted a pitch and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown.

Quarterback Colt Gatzemeyer found his rhythm early in the second quarter with a 56 yard touchdown pass to Tyler Erickson that capped off a four-play, 74-yard drive. On the extra-point attempt, Gatzemeyer found Kaleb Anderson, who forced his way past two defenders and into the end zone giving the Raiders a 10-0 lead.

Central Lakes College linebacker Andrew Hallberg (40) leveled Northland Pioneer running back John Amofah (32) Saturday in the Raiders' home opener.

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Following the ensuing kickoff, the Raiders defense collected its second fumble recovery on a mishandled snap at the 27. The Raiders next two plays, both runs by Dennis Taute, went for 11 and 16 yards for a 17-0 advantage.

Taute's 77 first half rushing yards forced the Pioneers to flood the line of scrimmage early in the second half. That allowed the Raiders to run a play-action fake from the 17. Gatzemeyer again connected with Erickson for a touchdown and a swelling 27-0 lead.

CLC 35, Northland 0

Keys: The Raiders' had two safeties and capitalized on five turnovers that resulted in 22 points.

Overall: CLC 2-0.

Next: CLC vs. Mesabi at Virginia 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

"The linemen did an amazing job," said Gatzemeyer. "We were able to run the ball and do what we wanted on the passing game, too. The receivers stepped up and grabbed the ball when they had to."

The catch was Erickson's final as he finished with three receptions for 78 yards and two touchdowns to lead all receivers.

In his first career start, Gatzemeyer converted 9 of 15 passes for 145 yards and two scores.

"I couldn't be happier with the performance that Colt has had," Medeck said of the second-year field general's performance since starting quarterback Andrew Maskell suffered a season-ending ACL tear in the first quarter of the season opener. "He's stepped up and has been very solid. Getting repetitions with the first team all week long has really helped his confidence."

Northland Pioneer quarterback Chaz Moore (8) stiff-armed CLC linebacker Jordan Moll (51) in their clash Saturday at CLC.

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The Raiders finished with 294 yards of total offense, 149 rushing and 145 passing, while limiting the Pioneers to just 113 total yards, just 28 of which were passing.

Northland 0 0 0 0 - 0

Central Lakes 2 18 7 8 - 35

First quarter

CLC-Safety by Jason Smith

Second quarter

CLC-Tyler Erickson 56 pass from Colt Gatzemeyer (Kaleb Anderson pass from Gatzemeyer)

CLC-Dennis Taute 16 run (Felipe Castro kick)

CLC-Castro 24 field goal

Third quarter

CLC-Erickson 17 pass from Gatzemeyer (Castro Kick)

Fourth quarter

CLC-Safety by CLC defense

CLC-Chase Abfalter 38 interception return (kick failed)

Team statistics

Rushes-yards: CLC 33-149, Nor 43-85

Pass comp-att-int-yards: CLC 9-15-0-145, Nor 7-16-3-28

Total offense: CLC 48-294, Nor 59-113

CLC individual statistics

Rushing: Dennis Taute 18-100, Michael Iverson 7-49, Brandon Julius 3-13, Kaleb Anderson 3-1, Colt Gatzemeyer 2-(-14)

Passing: Colt Gatzemeyer 9-15-0-145

Receiving: Tyler Erickson 3-78, Alex Leach 2-38, Kevin Beehler 1-13, Dan Ngandali 1-13, Kaleb Anderson 1-3, Michael Iverson 1-1