Roseau's defense stymies Panthers
Wednesday night's regular-season football finale between Park Rapids and Roseau was expected to be a high-scoring affair.
Instead, a steady rain and sloppy field slowed down both offenses as Roseau escaped with a 16-6 Heart O'Lakes Conference and Section 8AAA victory.
Roseau entered this game as the No. 1 passing offense in the conference with 1,217 yards while the Panthers were second with 949 passing yards. The Rams averaged 27.1 points a game while Park Rapids averaged 27.7 points a game entering this regular-season finale.
Defensively, Roseau had allowed 33.1 points a game while the Panthers had given up an average of 30.2 points a night.
Even though three big passing plays led to the three touchdowns, it was the defenses of both teams that dominated the game.
Park Rapids had a scoring chance on the opening series when Josh Severtson's kickoff return to the 48 and three carries by Ian Johnson for 19 yards drove the ball to the Roseau 32. But the Rams' defense held and Roseau took over at the 32.
Four punts followed before an interception by Tanner Okeson provided the first break for Roseau. The Rams took over at the Park Rapids 46 and on the next play, Alex Ziegler hit Okeson on a 46-yard TD pass. Bailey Sampson's 2-point conversion catch gave Roseau an 8-0 lead with 11:14 to play in the first half.
Roseau's defense forced the Panthers to punt on their next series and the Rams used a 46-yard pass from Ziegler to Okeson to set up a 4-yard TD run by Trevor Johnson. Sampson again caught the conversion and Roseau held a 16-0 lead with 7:59 remaining in the first half.
The Panthers entered Roseau territory late in the half when a 22-yard pass from Tyler McCollum to Kyle Goplerud led to a first down at the Rams' 46. But a fumble three plays later ended that drive as Roseau carried a 16-0 lead into the half.
Neither offense could sustain any drives in the first two quarters as the Panthers compiled 74 yards and four first downs while Roseau had 154 yards and seven first downs.
Park Rapids produced some momentum at the start of the second half when Andy Waller recovered an onside kick near midfield. However, three plays later, the Panthers were forced to punt.
Following three more punts, the Panthers took over at their own 35 and moved to the Roseau 36 on a 29-yard catch by Goplerud. But Ziegler ended that drive by intercepting a pass at the 21.
An offsides penalty by the Panthers on fourth-and-1 and a 15-yard run by Ziegler moved Roseau to midfield, but Park Rapids' defense held and forced another punt.
A pass interference call led the Panthers to midfield, but Park Rapids lost possession on downs as Roseau took over.
A 26-yard run by Johnson led Roseau to the Park Rapids 24, but an interception by Waller ended that drive.
On Roseau's next possession, a 14-yard run by Jared Pahlen helped the Rams reach the Park Rapids 32, but the Panthers' defense held and forced a punt.
Park Rapids took over at its own 15 with 2:47 to play and ended the shutout when Ian Johnson hit Noah MacPherson on an 85-yard halfback pass to close the gap to 16-6 with 2:30 to play.
The Panthers tried another onside kick, but Roseau recovered at its own 40 and ran out the clock.
Roseau improved to 4-4 while the Panthers fell to 3-5.
Despite the loss, the Panthers locked up the No. 2 seed in the section and will host No. 7 Staples-Motley in a first-round playoff game Tuesday night at Vern Weekley Field. If the Panthers win that game, they will host a semifinal game Saturday night.
Park Rapids 0 0 0 6.....6
Roseau 0 16 0 0.....16
R-Okeson 46 pass from Ziegler (Sampson pass from Ziegler)
R-Johnson 4 run (Sampson pass from Ziegler)
PR-MacPherson 85 pass from I. Johnson (pass failed)