Panthers capitalize on turnovers in rout
Creating turnovers created another win for the Park Rapids football team Friday night.
The Panthers turned five first-half turnovers into touchdowns in building a 38-0 lead en route to a 38-7 Heart O’Lakes Conference victory at Crookston.
On the opening series of the game, the Panthers recovered an onside kick and used an up-tempo style to drive 55 yards in eight plays to take the lead. Ben Baumgartner’s 6-yard TD run capped the drive as the Panthers led 6-0 just 2:03 into the game.
Crookston fumbled on its second play from scrimmage and the Panthers took over at the Pirates’ 26. The Panthers quickly capitalized on the turnover when Tyler McCollum hit Josh Severtson on a 26-yard scoring play. Severtson’s conversion gave Park Rapids a 14-0 lead just 2:51 into the game.
Mikey Hajostek’s 35-yard run led the Pirates into Park Rapids territory on the ensuing series, but Severtson intercepted a Parker Salentine pass and returned it 64 yards for a touchdown. However, a holding penalty negated that score as the Panthers took over at the Crookston 30. Five plays later, Rilee Johnson plunged in from 5 yards out and Park Rapids held a 20-0 lead with 5:11 to play in the first quarter.
On Crookston’s next series, Riley Massie intercepted a Salentine pass to set up another 5-yard TD run by Johnson as the Panthers led 26-0 with 46 seconds to play in the opening quarter.
The Pirates held Park Rapids on the next series, but a fumble on a punt gave the Panthers possession at midfield. Nine plays later, McCollum hit Noah MacPherson on a 29-yard scoring route and the Panthers held a 32-0 advantage with 6:00 remaining before halftime.
Crookston mounted its best drive of the half, but MacPherson picked off a Salentine pass at the 5 and returned it to the Crookston 21. On the next play, Jon Burlingame broke free for a 21-yard TD run to give the Panthers a 38-0 cushion with 1:52 to go in the first half.
“The kids came out fired up. We took the opening kickoff and marched down the field and that set the tempo for the rest of the game,” said Park Rapids head coach Aaron Morris. “Our defense really stepped up and played well and we were able to capitalize on a lot of Crookston’s mistakes. It was a great team effort.”
Park Rapids went to a ball-control offense in the second half to run down the clock while the defense maintained the shutout until Brandt Delage broke free for a 62-yard TD run with 3:34 to play.
The Panthers compiled 300 yards in offense with Johnson rushing eight times for 53 yards, Baumgartner gaining 51 yards on 14 carries, Burlingame rushing five times for 30 yards and Severtson gaining 29 yards on five carries. McCollum completed 6 of 11 passes for 127 yards with MacPherson catching four passes for 96 yards.
Delage led the Pirates’ offense with 148 yards on 17 carries. Crookston fell to 1-2 on the season.
Park Rapids, which forced five turnovers in a 21-6 win over Roseau last week, improved to 2-1.
“I never expected this game would be a blow out. I thought we’d beat them if we played well, but I expected it to be a closer game,” said Morris. “The kids expect to go out there and win. It’s fun to see the excitement.”
The Panthers are looking to cap off homecoming week with a conference and Section 8AA victory over Pequot Lakes Friday night. Kickoff has been moved up to 6 p.m. at Vern Weekley Field.
Park Rapids 26 12 0 0…38
Crookston 0 0 0 7..7
PR-Baumgartner 6 run (run failed)
PR-Severtson 26 pass from McCollum (Severtson run)
PR-Johnson 5 run (pass failed)
PR-Johnson 5 run (pass failed)
PR-MacPherson 29 pass from McCollum (kick failed)
PR-Burlingame 21 run (kick failed)
C-Delage 62 run (Koenig kick)
First downs 13 10
Rushes-yards 44-165 40-241
Passing 7-12-0 3-12-3
Passing yards 135 15
Total yards 300 256
Penalties-yards 8-60 4-20
Fumbles-lost 4-2 5-2
RUSHING. Park Rapids: Johnson 8-53, Baumgartner 14-51, Burlingame 5-30, Severtson 5-29, R. Hagan 3-15, Breitweser 1-4, M. Bade 3-4, Kosel 1-(-1), K. Hagan 1-(-4), McCollum 2-(-16). Crookston: Delage 17-148, Hajostek 8-67, Hollcraft 1-23, Lutz 2-5, Salentine 6-2, Edlund 3-1, Hulst 1-1, Bergeron 1-(-2), Davidson 1-(-4).
PASSING. Park Rapids: T. McCollum 6-11-0 for 127 yards; Byer 1-1-0 for 8 yards. Crookston: Salentine 3-12-3 for 15 yards.
RECEIVING. Park Rapids: MacPherson 4-96, Severtson 1-26, Barrett 1-8, D. Bade 1-5. Crookston: Epema 3-15.