Herzog, Lakers choose winning option
Self-inflicted turnovers were the only things that stopped Detroit Lakes' option offense in the first half of Friday night's Heart O'Lakes Conference North Division football game against Park Rapids.
The Lakers overcame the cold, windy, snowy conditions by relying on a power running attack to score on five of their seven possessions in the first half in building a 33-14 lead.
Quarterback Michael Herzog and fullback Jarret Nosal combined to rush for 317 yards and four touchdowns in the game in leading the Lakers to a 40-22 victory.
"Detroit Lakes is a tough team, but we didn't come out playing our game," said Park Rapids head coach Aaron Morris. "We couldn't stop them and we couldn't get anything going offensively. The kids responded and played a lot better in the second half, but by then it was too late."
After stopping Park Rapids' initial drive at the 39, the Lakers drove 60 yards in 10 plays before losing possession on a fumble at the 1. Herzog rushed eight times for 47 yards on that drive before fumbling near the goal line. Andy Waller recovered the fumble as the Panthers took over at the 1.
Park Rapids was forced to punt and the Lakers took over at the Panthers' 38. A 15-yard pass from Herzog to Derek Long set up a 17-yard TD run by Herzog as Detroit Lakes led 7-0 with 2:08 to play in the first quarter.
The Panthers were forced to punt again and Detroit Lakes took over at its own 27. Herzog broke free for a 46-yard run and hit Stephen Erb on a 32-yard route before capping the five-play, 73-yard drive with a 6-yard TD run. That gave the Lakers a 14-0 lead with 11:56 to play in the first half.
Following another Park Rapids punt, the Lakers expanded their lead with a nine-play, 66-yard drive. Nosal rushed three times for 21 yards and Herzog followed with an 11-yard run. A facemask penalty led to a first down at the 29. After an 11-yard catch by Kirk McLeod on fourth-and-4, Nosal scored from 11 yards out to push the lead to 21-0 with 8:08 remaining in the half.
On the Panthers' next play from scrimmage, Ian Johnson broke free for a 69-yard TD run as Park Rapids cut the gap to 21-7 at the 7:53 mark.
Erb returned the ensuing kickoff to the Park Rapids 45 and Herzog quickly countered the Panthers' first touchdown with his third by following an 11-yard run with a 34-yard TD run. That gave the Lakers a 27-7 lead with 7:07 remaining in the first half.
The Panthers drove to the Detroit Lakes 19 on their next series, but that drive was stopped by an interception.
Park Rapids' defense forced another turnover when Ian Johnson intercepted a Herzog pass at midfield.
The Panthers capitalized on that turnover with a six-play, 49-yard drive. Johnson's 9-yard run on third-and-7 and a pass interference call on third-and-6 set up a 19-yard TD pass from McCollum to Noah MacPherson. With 1:26 to go in the first half, the Panthers faced a 27-14 deficit.
Erb's kickoff return to the Park Rapids 44 set up Detroit Lakes' fifth touchdown of the half. Herzog's 9-yard run and facemask penalty led to a first down at the 20. Four plays later, Herzog hit McLeod on a 9-yard scoring play as the Lakers - who rushed 23 times for 212 yards in the first half - carried a 33-14 advantage into the break.
Detroit Lakes preserved that lead by using its running game to control the clock in the second half.
On the first drive of the second half, the Lakers relied on their running attack to reach the Park Rapids 23 before losing possession on downs at the 18.
Park Rapids was forced to punt and the Lakers drove to the Panthers' 33 before that drive was stalled when Waller intercepted a pass at the 15.
Four plays later, Erb intercepted a pass at the 35 and returned it for a touchdown as the Lakers extended their lead to 40-14 with 10:44 to play.
An 18-yard run by McCollum and 20-yard reception by MacPherson led the Panthers to the Detroit Lakes 30, but a fumble ended that drive.
After forcing the Lakers to punt for the first time in the game, the Panthers ended the scoring with an 11-play, 67-yard drive. Jordan McCollum's 12-yard run and 25-yard reception by Ben Baumgartner drove the Panthers to the Detroit Lakes 18. After an 11-yard run by Jon Burlingame, Tyler McCollum hit Derek Porozinski on an 8-yard scoring route to end the scoring with 40 seconds to go.
Herzog led the Lakers' offense by rushing 31 times for 225 yards and completing 5 of 11 passes for 75 yards. Nosal added 92 yards on 16 carries as Detroit Lakes improved to 4-0 in conference play and 6-0 on the season. The Lakers, who had only allowed 20 points in the first five games, entered the game rated No. 5 in the state Class AAAA poll.
Johnson finished with 102 yards on 13 carries while Tyler McCollum completed 10 of 24 passes for 136 yards with MacPherson making four receptions for 56 yards.
The loss dropped the Panthers to 2-3 in the conference and 2-4 overall. However, Park Rapids is currently the No. 3 seed in the Section 8AAA standings, which would give the Panthers a home playoff game.
"We have a chance to go .500 and be the No. 2 seed in the section and possibly have two home playoff games," said Morris. "It's up to us whether we want to be at home or be on the road for the playoffs. We control our own destiny."
Park Rapids 0 14 0 8.....22
Detroit Lakes 7 26 0 7.....40
DL-Herzog 17 run (Tigges kick)
DL-Herzog 6 run (Tigges kick)
DL-Nosal 11 run (Tigges kick)
PR-I. Johnson 69 run (I. Johnson kick)
DL-Herzog 34 run (kick blocked)
PR-MacPherson 19 pass from T. McCollum (I. Johnson kick)
DL-McLeod 9 pass from Herzog (pass failed)
DL-Erb 35 interception return (Tigges kick)
PR-Porozinski 8 pass from T. McCollum (Baumgartner run)
RUSHING. Park Rapids: I. Johnson 13-102, Eystad 5-30, T. McCollum 3-23, Burlingame 2-17, Gartner 6-12, J. McCollum 1-12, Dirks 5-11, Baumgartner 4-4, Severtson 2-(-1). Detroit Lakes: Herzog 31-225, Nosal 16-92.
PASSING. Park Rapids: T. McCollum 10-24-2 for 136 yards. Detroit Lakes: Herzog 5-11-2 For 75 yards.
RECEIVING. Park Rapids: MacPherson 4-56, K. Goplerud 2-27, I. Johnson 2-20, Baumgartner 1-25, Porozinski 1-8. Detroit Lakes: Erb 2-39, McLeod 2-21, Long 1-15.