Strong second half seals Fergus Falls' win over Panthers
Park Rapids gave the top football team in the Midwest Red District a battle in the first half before Fergus Falls scored three touchdowns in the second half to pull away for a 42-14 victory Friday night at Vern Weekley Field.
The Panthers took an 8-0 lead on Tristin Persons' 3-yard touchdown run and Zach Severtson's conversion catch from Jens Anderson with 4:22 to play in the first quarter. That scoring drive took 14 plays and covered 65 yards.
Fergus Falls responded on the ensuing series, marching 74 yards in eight plays as Nathan Rund's 8-yard TD run and Noah Raitz's kick cut the gap to 8-7 with 25 seconds left in the opening quarter.
After forcing Park Rapids to punt, Rund's 46-yard TD reception and Raitz's kick gave the Otters a 14-8 lead with 11:33 to go in the first half.
Park Rapids' defense set up the next touchdown as a partially blocked punt gave the Panthers possession at the Fergus Falls 27. Five plays later, Anderson hit Severtson on a 10-yard scoring route as the game was tied at 14-14 with 4:33 remaining before the break.
Fergus Falls quickly responded as a 45-yard kickoff return by Eli Sorum set up a 35-yard scoring pass from Harrison Christensen to Marshall King. Raitz booted the extra point as the Otters carried a 21-14 lead into the half.
Fergus Falls controlled the final 24 minutes by scoring on its first three possessions while holding the Panthers to only nine plays and forcing three punts to start the second half.
Rund caught a 4-yard TD pass to cap a nine-play, 64-yard drive to start the second half and followed with a 7-yard TD run at the 5:40 mark of the third quarter to cap a short five-play, 27-yard drive. Rund concluded the scoring with a 21-yard TD reception with 11:55 to play that ended a 10-play, 56-yard drive.
The win lifted Fergus Falls to 6-1 on the season while the Panthers fell to 0-7.
Park Rapids concludes the regular season with a game at Perham Wednesday night with a 7 p.m. kickoff.
See Wednesday's edition of the Enterprise for more details from the Panthers' final home game of the season.