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Park Rapids' Cory Gartner looked to elude Crookston's Alex Boone (6) during Friday night's game.

Pirates top Panthers in shootout

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Not even the best offensive production in 19 years was enough to lead the Park Rapids football team past Crookston in an offensive shootout Friday night at Vern Weekley Field.

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The Panthers' offensive numbers were impressive: 101 plays, 31 first downs, 579 yards and six touchdowns. The 101 plays broke the school record of 79 against Frazee in 1975 and the 31 first downs broke the school record of 26 against Detroit Lakes in 1977.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, Josh Edlund's numbers were even more impressive. The senior running back rushed 38 times for a school-record 415 yards and seven touchdowns in leading Crookston to a 53-46 Heart O'Lakes Conference and Section 8AAA victory.

Edlund capped off his record-setting night by scoring on a 22-yard run with 12 seconds to play to give the Pirates the win in this battle of Northern Division rivals. The Panthers, who rallied to tie the game at 46-46 after trailing 38-14 entering the fourth quarter, remained winless despite enjoying their best offensive output since defeating Aitkin 46-28 in 1993. The 53 points were the most Park Rapids had allowed since a 54-14 loss to Melrose in 2004.

This game, which saw Park Rapids carry a 14-13 lead into the half, featured 1,096 yards in offense and saw the Panthers set a school record by scoring 32 points in the fourth quarter after Crookston scored 25 unanswered points in the third quarter.

"I knew we could move the ball against them, but I didn't think we'd move it that much," said Park Rapids head coach Aaron Morris. "The kids played well. They could have said we're done trailing 38-14, but they showed a lot of character and battled back."

It was apparent on the opening drives that both teams were going to move the ball all night.

The Panthers opened the game with a 14-play drive. Ian Johnson rushed five times for 25 yards and Cory Gartner rushed five times for 24 yards, but that 68-yard drive stalled inside the 1.

Crookston responded with a nine-play, 99-yard scoring drive. Edlund, who gained 66 yards on five carries, broke free for runs of 20 and 29 yards and Cam Leas caught a 28-yard pass to set up a 2-yard TD run by Edlund. That gave the Pirates a 7-0 lead at the 5:05 mark.

After forcing the Panthers to punt, Crookston put together another drive. Edlund's 27-yard punt return and 27-yard run after a holding call and Aaron Hollcraft's 32-yard catch gave the Pirates possession at the Park Rapids 5. That drive ended on an interception by Andy Waller.

David Dirks' 11-yard run and four carries for 25 yards by Zach Eystad led the Panthers to the Crookston 25. That 12-play drive ended with Leas' interception at the 8.

An interception by Eystad at the Crookston 48 sparked the Panthers' first scoring drive. Johnson followed a 19-yard run with a 12-yard run before Tyler McCollum hit Johnson on a 17-yard scoring route over the middle on fourth down. Noah MacPherson's catch on the two-point conversion gave Park Rapids an 8-7 lead with 5:52 to play in the first half.

Park Rapids forced the Pirates to punt and a 29-yard catch by Eystad led to a first down at the Crookston 29, but Seth Solheim scooped up a fumble three plays later and returned it 76 yards to give the Pirates a 13-8 lead with 2:35 remaining in the first half.

The Panthers responded with a quick four-play, 63-yard drive. McCollum hit Johnson on a 15-yard route and followed with a 36-yard throw to MacPherson. Johnson capped off the drive with a 5-yard TD run. That gave the Panthers a 14-13 lead with 1:41 showing.

Kyle Goplerud recovered a fumble at the 49 and the Panthers used a 15-yard run by Eystad and 11-yard run by Gartner to reach the 19, but a sack ended that drive and the half.

Edlund, who rushed 15 times for 125 yards in the first half, dominated the third quarter by rushing 13 times for 166 yards and four TDs to give Crookston a 38-14 advantage.

On the opening series of the second half, Edlund capped a seven-play, 65-yard drive with a 15-yard TD run. Solheim's 27-yard catch, Edlund's 5-yard gain on fourth-and-2 and Edlund's 10-yard run to the 15 were the key plays in that drive as the Pirates claimed a 19-14 lead with 9:31 remaining.

Following a Park Rapids punt, Edlund broke free for a 54-yard TD scamper as Crookston expanded its lead to 25-14 at the 7:23 mark.

Hollcraft's interception at the Park Rapids 45 set up Edlund, who followed a 33-yard run with a 12-yard TD run. At the 5:30 mark, the Pirates held a 31-14 advantage.

Crookston capitalized on another turnover when Alex Boone recovered a fumble at the Park Rapids 32. Edlund scored from the 1 by carrying the ball five times for 32 yards, including a 20-yard run to the 3. That extended the Pirates' lead to 38-14 with 2:45 to play in the third quarter.

The Panthers took the ensuing kickoff and went on a 10-play, 63-yard drive. Kyle Goplerud's 9-yard catch on third-and-7 and 12-yard catch led the Panthers to the Crookston 38. A personal-foul call for a helmet-to-helmet hit led to a first down at the 9. Two plays later, McCollum hit Goplerud on a 6-yard scoring route and Eystad ran in the conversion as the Panthers sliced the deficit to 38-22 with 11:55 to play.

Park Rapids recovered the ensuing onside kick and needed only three plays to cover 42 yards and find the end zone. A 22-yard run by Gartner set up a 16-yard TD run by Eystad and two-point catch by Goplerud as the Panthers trailed 38-30 with 11:12 to play.

Edlund temporarily ended the Panthers' momentum with a 62-yard TD run on the Pirates' next play from scrimmage as Crookston led 46-30 with 11:01 remaining.

Eystad's 1-yard TD plunge capped a 19-play, 73-yard drive as the Panthers closed the gap to 46-38 with 5:28 to play. A 7-yard run by Dirks on third-and-7, a 13-yard catch by Goplerud and an 8-yard catch by Dirks on fourth-and-3 set up Eystad's fourth-down score. Eystad's caught the two-point conversion to cap off the drive that took 5:29 off the clock.

Crookston was forced to punt and the Panthers took over at their own 16 with 2:33 to play. On fourth-and-1, Gartner broke free for a 75-yard run and Eystad ran in the conversion as the Panthers tied the game at 46-46 with 1:19 remaining.

That proved to be enough time for the Pirates as Edlund rushed three times for 28 yards as Crookston reached the Park Rapids 37. A pass interference call on fourth-and 15 led to a first down at the 22. Edlund then ran around the right side for the game-winning 22-yard TD run with :12 remaining.

Leas' second interception of the game sealed the win as Crookston prevailed in a key conference and section game.

Edlund rushed for all but 8 of Crookston's 423 rushing yards while Dylan Klatt completed 5 of 14 passes for another 104 yards.

Park Rapids' offensive line of center Connor Smythe, guards Chris Goplerud and Kyle Ritter, and tackles Kurt Fritze and Waller opened up holes all game. Gartner led the Panthers' 431-yard rushing attack with 15 carries for 171 yards. Johnson rushed 21 times for 117 yards, Eystad gained 66 yards on 10 carries and Dirks had 62 yards on 16 carries. Park Rapids' 69 rushes also broke a school record, surpassing the 65 running attempts against Detroit Lakes in 1977. McCollum completed 11 of 32 passes for another 148 yards.

"We told the kids that this game wasn't over and to keep playing hard," said Morris. "The line created holes and the backs ran hard. We were a couple of plays away from winning this game. It was an exciting game."

Crookston 7 6 25 15....53

Park Rapids 0 14 0 32....46

SCORING

C-J. Edlund 2 run (Delage kick)

PR-I. Johnson 17 pass from T. McCollum (MacPherson pass from T. McCollum)

C-Solheim 76 fumble return (kick failed)

PR-I. Johnson 8 run (run failed)

C-J. Edlund 15 run (run failed)

C-J. Edlund 56 run (run failed)

C-J. Edlund 12 run (run failed)

C-J. Edlund 1 run (Delage kick)

PR-K. Goplerud 6 pass from T. McCollum (Eystad run)

PR-Eystad 15 run (K. Goplerud pass from T. McCollum)

C-J. Edlund 63 run (L. Edlund pass from Klatt)

PR-Eystad 1 run (Eystad pass from T. McCollum

PR-Gartner 75 run (Eystad run)

C-J. Edlund 22 run (Delage kick)

OFFENSIVE STATISTICS

RUSHING. Park Rapids: Gartner 15-171, I. Johnson 21-117, Eystad 10-66, Dirks 16-62, Walsh 7-24. T. McCollum 1-(-9). Crookston: J. Edlund 38-415, Klatt 6-8, L. Edlund 1-0.

PASSING. Park Rapids: T. McCollum 11-32-3 for 148 yards. Crookston; Klatt 5-14-2 for 104 yards.

RECEIVING. Park Rapids: K. Goplerud 5-41, I. Johnson 3-34, MacPherson 1-36, Eystad 1-29, Dirks 1-8. Crookston: Hollcraft 2-37, Leas 1-28, Solheim 1-27, J. Edlund 1-12.

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