Kickoff return caps WCA's 27-19 victory over Panthers
Despite compiling a season-high 250 yards on the ground, the Park Rapids football team wasn't able to pick up its first win of the season Thursday night.
The Panthers put together three scoring drives of at least 60 yards, but West Central Area countered with a pair of long scoring drives en route to a 27-19 victory in the regular-season finale at the Fargodome.
Park Rapids took the opening kickoff and drove into WCA territory before an interception at the 24-yard line ended that drive. Colin Vaadeland's two carries for 15 yards led to a first down at the WCA 39 before Devin Lein's interception on fourth down stopped that drive.
The Knights responded with a seven-play, 76-yard drive to take the lead. Quarterback Colton Blascyk hit Keith Kuseske for a 20-yard gain and scrambled 18 yards to open the drive. A 23-yard catch by Kuseske on third down set up a 20-yard touchdown pass from Blascyk to Toby Weigand. That gave WCA a 7-0 lead with 6:25 to play in the first quarter.
Park Rapids responded with a 13-play, 65-yard drive to tie the game. The Panthers ran the ball 13 times with Danny Pike gaining 25 yards on six carries. Pike capped the drive with a 6-yard TD run and kicked the extra point for a 7-7 tie with 1:17 to play in the first quarter. Pike's 4-yard gain on third-and-2, Vaadeland's 3-yard gain, Forrest Drury's 7-yard carry on third-and-2 and Pike's 5-yard carry on third-and-1 led to first downs to keep the drive going.
Another Park Rapids turnover helped WCA regain the lead. The Knights recovered a fumble at the Park Rapids 36 and used runs of 14 and 13 yards by Blascyk to set up a 13-yard TD run by Blascyk. That gave WCA a 14-7 lead at the 6:12 mark of the second quarter.
The Panthers followed with a drive into WCA territory behind three carries by Pike for 16 yards. However, Pike was stopped a yard short on fourth-and-5 as the Knights took over at their own 40.
Eight plays later, WCA had a 21-7 lead. Blascyk opened the drive with a 17-yard run. After an intentional grounding call, Blascyk hit Kuseske for a 22-yard gain and followed with a 28-yard toss to Weigand. Blascyk scored from the 2, but that touchdown was nullified by a holding penalty. WCA overcame that penalty when Blascyk hit Boeddeker on a 14-yard route with 36 seconds remaining in the first half.
Park Rapids opened the second half with a scoring threat when a 28-yard reception by Kyle Kanten and three carries by Pike for 9 yards led to a first down at the WCA 32. That drive stalled at the 27.
A 50-yard catch by Matt Wagner led WCA to the Park Rapids 27. But Pike sacked Blascyk as the Knight lost possession at the 33.
The Panthers put together a 10-play, 67-yard drive to get back in the game. A 12-yard carry by Vaadeland and a 12-yard run by Ian Johnson set up a 22-yard TD catch from Johnson to Drury. That made it 21-13 with 9:01 to play in the game.
WCA sealed the win when Weigand took the ensuing kickoff and returned it 80 yards for a 27-13 advantage with 8:49 remaining.
After both teams exchanged punts, the Panthers concluded the scoring when Johnson sprinted 82 yards on the option with 5:59 to play.
Park Rapids had two more attempts to tie the game, but couldn't pick up a first down as WCA held on for the win.
Johnson rushed eight times for 102 yards, Pike gained 62 yards on 18 carries and Vaadeland had 61 yards on 15 attempts to lead the Panthers' offense. Johnson completed 5 of 14 passes for 64 yards as the Panthers fell to 0-8.
Blascyk rushed 19 times for 63 yards and completed 9 of 21 passes for 198 yards to lead the Knights, who improved to 3-5 on the season.
"Our goal was to contain (Blascyk). If we would have contained him, we would have won the game," said Park Rapids head coach Aaron Morris, who saw Blascyk rush for 57 yards and throw for another 133 yards in the first half. "We played a lot better in the second half. We had the momentum, but the kickoff return deflated us. The kids played hard. We're better than our record shows."
WCA-Weigand 20 pass from Blascyk (Larson kick)
PR-Pike 6 run (Pike kick)
WCA-Blascyk 13 run (Larson kick)
WCA-Boeddeker 14 pass from Blascyk (Larson kick)
PR-Drury 15 pass from Johnson (kick failed)
WCA-Weigand 80 kickoff return (kick blocked)
PR-Johnson 82 run (kick failed)
RUSHING. Park Rapids: Johnson 8-102, Pike 18-62, Vaadeland 15-61, Drury 9-25. WCA: Blascyk 19-63.
PASSING. Park Rapids: Johnson 5-14-1 for 65 yards. WCA: Blascyk 9-21-0 for 198 yards.
RECEIVING. Park Rapids: Drury 3-31, Kanten 1-28, Pike 1-6. WCA: Kuseske 3-65, Wagner 1-50, Weigand 2-48, Boeddeker 2-20, Supler 1-15.