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Yellowjackets take advantage of break, defeat Panthers in overtime

For 46 minutes of Friday night's Heart O'Lakes Conference and Section 8AAA football game at Perham, Park Rapids was in control.

It took one play for the Panthers to lose control.

With the Panthers holding a 6-0 lead, a bad snap on a punt was recovered by Perham at the Park Rapids 34 with 1:48 to play. Three plays later, Gabe Pankonin plunged in from 3 yards out to tie the game at 6-6 and force overtime.

After stopping the Panthers on the first possession of overtime, Perham escaped with a 12-6 victory when Pankonin snuck in from 1-yard out on third down.

"We outplayed them the whole game, but one mistake killed us," said Park Rapids head coach Aaron Morris. "The kids played hard, but we had too many mental mistakes and we didn't capitalize on our opportunities."

Park Rapids controlled the game, running 74 plays and tallying 15 first downs while holding the ball for 31 minutes. Perham ran 47 plays, had eight first downs and maintained possession for only 17 minutes.

Three missed scoring chances in the first half and three turnovers in the second half prevented the Panthers from pulling off the win.

On the first series of the game, the Panthers marched to the Perham 8 before losing possession on downs. A 38-yard pass from Ian Johnson to Kyle Goplerud, four carries by Forrest Drury for 22 yards, and a 10-yard run by Colin Vaadeland were the key plays in that 10-play, 62-yard drive.

The Panthers capped off a nine-play, 43-yard drive to open the scoring on their third possession. Dan Pike opened the drive with two carries for 17 yards before Johnson hit Vaadeland for an 19-yard gain to the Perham 9. A 2-yard run by Drury and a pair of 2-yard gains by Pike set up a 3-yard TD run by Vaadeland on fourth down. The extra point was blocked, but Park Rapids held a 6-0 lead with 8:39 to play in the first half.

Park Rapids recovered the ensuing kickoff at the Perham 42 and used a facemask penalty after a 5-yard gain by Vaadeland to reach the Yellowjackets' 19. But Vaadeland was stopped short on fourth-and-4 and Perham took over at the 10.

After forcing Perham to punt, the Panthers took over at its own 46. Pike's 15-yard run, Drury's 9-yard carry and Vaadeland's 5-yard gain led to a first down at the Perham 25. That drive stalled and the Yellowjackets regained possession at the 25.

Pankonin rushed twice for 22 yards and hit Jordan Hein on a 23-yard route as the Yellowjackets marched to the Park Rapids 19. However, the Panthers' defense held to end the half.

Park Rapids' defense opened the second half by stopping Perham on fourth-and-3 at the Panthers' 48.

Pike rushed three times for 23 yards and Vaadeland had two carries for 9 yards as the Panthers reached the Perham 20. A fumbled handoff ended that drive.

The Panthers forced Perham to punt on the next series and threatened again when a 14-yard run by Drury led to a first down at the Perham 25. Perham's defense held and the Panthers carried a 6-0 lead into the final quarter.

Both teams exchanged punts as the Panthers clung to a 6-0 lead with 6:46 to play. Park Rapids used two carries by Vaadeland for 9 yards and three carries by Pike for 18 yards to march to the Perham 35. The Panthers faced a fourth-and-10 with 1:53 to play and elected to punt. But a bad snap was recovered by the Yellowjackets at the Panthers' 34.

A 9-yard run by Pankonin and 22-yard completion to Hein set up Pankonin's game-tying touchdown with 37 seconds to go. The Panthers' blocked the extra-point kick to force overtime.

In overtime, Vaadeland gained 3 yards, Drury rushed for 2 yards and Pike lost 2 yards to set up a fourth down at the 7. Desmine Duffy deflected a pass by Johnson, which Ty Haverland intercepted to stop that drive.

Perham ended the game on its first possession when Hein rushed for 7 and 2 yards to set up Pankonin's 1-yard keeper.

The Panthers finished with 248 yards in offense with Pike gaining 85 yards on 21 carries, Drury rushing 14 times for 80 yards and Vaadeland picking up 56 yards on 18 attempts. Johnson completed 2 of 12 passes for 57 yards.

The Yellowjackets finished with 171 yards in offense with Pankonin rushing 15 times for 67 yards and completing 3 of 10 passes for 54 yards.

"Defensively we played very well. Offensively we didn't finish off drives. We should have been up 14-0 or 21-0 at halftime, but we made some mistakes," said Morris. "The kids are getting there. They're playing hard and they're starting to believe. We're right there. We're a couple of plays away from being 2-0 instead of 0-2."

The Panthers, who fell to 0-2 on the season, will host Crookston in another key conference and section battle. Kickoff at Vern Weekley Field is set for 7 p.m.


PR-Vaadeland 3 run (kick blocked)

P-Pankonin 3 run (kick blocked)

P-Pankonin 1 run


RUSHING. Park Rapids: Pike 21-85, Drury 14-80, Vaadeland 18-56, Johnson 8-(-30). Perham: Pankonin 15-67, Hein 9-38.

PASSING. Park Rapids: Johnson 2-12-1 for 57 yards. Perham: Pankonin 3-10-0 for 54 yards; Hein 0-2-0 for 0 yards.

RECEIVING. Park Rapids: K. Goplerud 1-38, Vaadeland 1-19. Perham: Hein 2-45, Waldon 1-9.

PUNT RETURNS. Park Rapids: Erickson 3-25.

KICKOFF RETURNS. Park Rapids: Erickson 1-14. Perham: Wiskow 1-15.