Panthers escape with overtime win over EGF
Aaron Morris was already wary of Friday night’s Heart O’Lakes Conference and Section 8AAA game against East Grand Forks even before hearing the weather forecast.
In addition to facing a dangerous winless opponent on the road, Morris knew the potent passing attack of the Park Rapids football team would be hampered by the rainy and windy conditions.
Even though the offense struggled in this turnover-filled battle, the Panthers’ defense wasn’t deterred by the weather as another outstanding performance resulted in a 6-0 overtime victory.
Park Rapids’ defense shined again, limiting the Green Wave to only 65 yards in total offense (including 12 yards rushing) and four first downs.
Unfortunately, the Panthers’ offense couldn’t finish off drives as two interceptions and a missed field goal resulted in a scoreless tie after regulation.
After stopping EGF on the first series of overtime, the Panthers escaped with a victory on Ben Baumgartner’s 1-yard touchdown run on third down.
“We knew East Grand Forks was going to be tough. We definitely didn’t take them lightly,” said Morris. “It was hard playing in those weather conditions. The wind and the rain impacted our offense a lot. We made some mistakes, but we found a way to win.”
The first half was a series of turnovers by both teams and missed opportunities by the Panthers.
On the first series of the game, East Grand Forks fumbled on the third play and the Panthers took over at the EGF 39. Jon Burlingame rushed twice for 10 yards before the Panthers lost possession at the 22.
EGF was forced to punt and the Panthers again had ideal field position at the Green Wave 40. A holding penalty pushed the Panthers back to the 48, but a 29-yard pass play from Tyler McCollum to Noah MacPherson overcame a fourth-and-11 and led to a first down at the EGF 14. Again EGF’s defense held and the Green Wave took over at the 17.
A series of turnovers followed a Green Wave punt when the Panthers fumbled at their own 40, Riley Massie intercepted an EGF pass and a bad snap on a Park Rapids punt gave EGF ideal field position at the Park Rapids 20.
Park Rapids’ defense stepped up and the Panthers regained possession at their own 15.
A 13-yard catch by Drew Bade was followed by three straight first-down runs by Ben Baumgartner of 6 yards on third-and-5 at the 33, 13 yards and 9 yards. A 15-yard penalty for a late hit on another run by Baumgartner gave the Panthers a first down at the EGF 18. That drive stalled with an interception in the end zone.
Neither team mounted a threat the rest of the half as the game remained scoreless.
Park Rapids opened the second half with a threat by marching to the EGF 35 when Jordan McCollum rushed twice for 17 yards and Baumgartner gained 7 yards on fourth-and-2 at the 40 to overcome a 15-yard personal-foul penalty. Tyler McCollum followed with a 5-yard run on fourth-and-2 at the EGF 45, but the Green Wave defense held and EGF took over at its own 35.
A 27-yard catch by Tanner Seim and a 15-yard personal foul penalty gave EGF a first down at the Park Rapids 21, but a fumble helped end that drive.
Tyler McCollum’s 6-yard run on third-and-1 led the Panthers to midfield, but EGF’s defense held and the Green Wave took over at their own 45.
Quarterback Trevor Selk gained 3 yards on foruth-and-2 and a 14-yard catch by Seim led the Green Wave to the Park Rapids 28. A bad snap resulted in a 22-yard loss and the Panthers regained possession at their own 45.
A 27-yard catch by Josh Severtson gave the Panthers a first down at the EGF 25, but an interception three plays later ended that threat.
A holding penalty forced EGF to punt and the Panthers took over at the EGF 34 with 3:48 to play. Severtson’s 6-yard run and an offsides penalty on fourth-and-3 were followed by a 6-yard run by Baumgartner and a 6-yard catch by Bade as the Panthers reached the EGF 11. That drive ended when Jarrett Johnson missed a 28-yard field goal with :08 remaining as the game went into overtime.
An incomplete pass on fourth-and-goal at the 3 ended EGF’s first attempt in overtime before the Panthers used a 5-yard run by Severtson and a 4-yard carry by Baumgartner to set up Baumgartner’s game-winning run.
The Panthers finished with 276 yards in offense with Baumgartner gaining 96 yards on 23 carries, Burlingame rushing 12 times for 32 yards and Severtson gaining 30 yards on 10 carries. Tyler McCollum completed 6 of 20 passes for 86 yards with Severtson making two receptions for 33 yards.
The win lifted Park Rapids to 4-1 in the conference, 3-0 against section teams and 5-2 overall. EGF fell to 0-5 in the conference and 0-7 overall.
“The kids played hard,” said Morris. “The defense stepped up and shut them down and our offense did the job in overtime. We’re glad to get out of there with a win.”
That victory sets up a key regular-season finale tonight (Wednesday) against Perham, which is 2-1 in the section, 4-1 in the conference and 5-2 overall. The winner of that game will be the No. 1 seed for the section playoffs.
“This is a big game,” said Morris. “I’m just going to tell the kids to play the game they know how to play.”
Park Rapids 0 0 0 6…6
EGF 0 0 0 0...0
PR-Baumgartner 1 run
PARK RAPIDS OFFENSIVE STATS
RUSHING: Baumgartner 23-96, Burlingame 12-32, Severtson 10-30, J. McCollum 4-16, T. McCollum 3-11, M. Bade 5-5.
PASSING: T. McCollum 6-20-2 for 86 yards.
RECEIVING: Severtson 2-33, D. Bade 2-19, MacPherson 1-29, Baumgartner 1-5.