Hornets hold off late rally by Panthers
It took the Park Rapids football team an entire half to start clicking offensively in the season opener at Frazee Friday night.
Despite scoring on all three possessions in the second half, the Panthers weren’t able to overcome a 20-0 deficit as Frazee held on for a 26-23 victory in a Heart O’Lakes Conference battle.
Frazee controlled the first half in building a 20-0 lead.
On the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Hesston Bachmann went untouched for a 74-yard touchdown run to give Frazee a quick 6-0 lead with 11:43 to play in the first quarter.
The Hornets had another opportunity to score by recovering a bad snap on a punt at the Park Rapids 29. Bachmann rushed for a 16-yard gain to the 13, but that drive stalled when Derek Porozinski recovered a fumble at the 18.
After both teams exchanged punts, Bachmann returned a punt 35 yards to the Park Rapids 25. The Panthers’ defense held to stop that threat.
An illegal block on another long punt return by Bachmann and an intentional grounding penalty forced the Hornets to punt on their fifth possession while Park Rapids followed by punting for the fifth time in the game.
Frazee finally capitalized on ideal field position when Bachmann hit Austin Torma on a 53-yard route over the middle to cap a two-play, 56-yard drive. That score on the first play of the second quarter gave the Hornets a 12-0 advantage with 11:52 to go in the first half.
After each team lost a fumble, the Hornets extended their lead to 20-0 when Tanner Bachmann capped a five-play, 44-yard drive with a 23-yard TD run on third-and-20. Torma’s 32-yard reception to the 13 set up Frazee’s third score at the 4:58 mark.
The Panthers, who gained only 2 yards on 19 plays on their first seven possessions, were finally able to move the ball late in the half by marching 76 yards in 14 plays. Ben Baumgartner’s 19-yard run to the Park Rapids 45 gave the Panthers their initial first down of the game. A 13-yard run by Jordan McCollum, an 18-yard reception by Baumgartner, and three carries for 16 yards by Baumgartner drove the Panthers to the Frazee 2. That drive stalled at the 4 as Frazee carried a 20-0 lead into the break.
“We started out flat,” said Park Rapids head coach Aaron Morris. “We had a lot of kids playing who didn’t know what it took to play varsity football. It took them a while to realize what they needed to do to play at varsity speed. We were down early, but the kids didn’t give up. They played hard to the end.”
Despite not being able to finish off their last drive of the first half, the Panthers used that momentum to score on their first possession of the second half.
Matt Bade rushed twice for 15 yards and McCollum gained 8 yards for a first down on fourth-and-4. A 13-yard run by Baumgartner, a pair of 6-yard gains by McCollum and Bade, and a 5-yard carry by McCollum set up a 23-yard TD run by Baumgartner. Jarrett Johnson’s kick cut the gap to 20-7 with 7:20 to play in the third quarter.
Frazee regained the momentum by following with an 80-yard scoring drive that consumed 9:19 off the clock. Eight plays led the Hornets near midfield when a fake punt resulted in a 20-yard pass from Tanner Bachmann to Torma on a fourth-and-4 for a key first down at the Park Rapids 34. Hesston Bachmann rushed for 5 yards on a fourth-and-3 at the 13 to set up an 8-yard TD run by Hesston Bachmann. With 10:01 to play, Frazee held a 26-7 advantage.
The Panthers then went to the air to make things interesting.
McCollum hit Porozinski for a 22-yard reception and followed with a 40-yard TD strike to Porozinski. Baumgartner ran in the conversion and the Panthers trailed 26-15 with 8:12 to play.
After forcing Frazee to punt, the Panthers drove 50 yards to close gap. A 16-yard catch by Baumgartner and 8-yard reception by Damion Hanke on fourth down set up a 15-yard TD reception from McCollum to Porozinski. Jon Burlingame ran in the conversion and Park Rapids trailed 26-23 with 3:33 to play.
Hesston Bachmann rushed for 6 yards and Tanner Bachmann followed with a 5-yard carry for a first down at the Frazee 45. The Hornets faced a fourth-and-3 with 1:09 to go when Hesston Bachmann broke free for a 12-yard run for a first down to seal the win.
“You take away a couple of their big plays and we win the game,” said Morris. “We outplayed them in the second half, but you have to outplay them the entire game.”
Frazee, which converted on three fourth downs, finished with 364 yards in total offense, including 251 on the ground. Hesston Bachmann rushed 19 times for 176 yards and passed for another 93 yards while Torma caught three passes for 105 yards.
The Panthers finished with 274 yards in offense with Baumgartner rushing 16 times for 82 yards, McCollum completing 6 of 19 passes for 119 yards and Porozinski making three catches for 77 yards.
Park Rapids will look to rebound from this loss by hosting Pequot Lakes Friday night at Vern Weekley Field. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
“We played physical enough and started hitting like we could. We just had some mental breakdowns, which are fixable. There were a lot of positives we can take out of this game,” said Morris. “I know we’re going to get better. The kids took this loss hard. They want to win. We’re going to get after it Friday night.”
Park Rapids 0 0 7 16…23
Frazee 6 14 0 6…26
F–H. Bachmann 73 run (pass failed)
F–Torma 52 pass from H. Bachmann (run failed)
F–T. Bachmann 23 run (Utke pass from H. Bachmann)
PR–Baumgartner 23 run (Johnson kick)
F–H. Bachmann 8 run (pass failed)
PR–Porozinski 40 pass from McCollum (Baumgartner run)
PR–Porozinski 15 pass from McCollum (Burlingame run)
First downs 13 16
Rushes-yards 40-155 46-251
Passing 6-19-0 4-6-0
Passing yards 119 113
Total yards 274 364
Penalties-yards 3-15 8-65
Fumbles-lost 2-1 2-2
RUSHING. Park Rapids: Baumgartner 16-82, McCollum 11-44, Bade 4-25, Day 2-17, Burlingame 7-10. Frazee: H. Bachmann 19-176, T. Bachmann 15-48, Torma 8-22, Jepson 1-3, Malstrom 1-2.
PASSING. Park Rapids: McCollum 6-19-0 for 119 yards. Frazee: H. Bachmann 3-5-0 for 93 yards; T. Bachmann 1-1-0 for 20 yards.
RECEIVING. Park Rapids: Porozinski 3-77, Baumgartner 2-34, Hanke 1-8. Frazee: Torma 3-105, T. Bachmann 1-8.