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Late TD lifts Roseay past Panthers

For the second time this season, the Park Rapids football team had a victory turn into a defeat in the final minute of the game.

Tanner Okeson's 27-yard touchdown catch with 50 seconds remaining lifted Roseau to a 32-25 Heart O'Lakes Conference and Section 8AAA win over the Panthers during the Rams' homecoming game Friday night.

In Park Rapids' second game of the season, Perham scored the game-tying touchdown with 1:11 left in a 12-6 overtime victory. In the season opener, Wadena-Deer Creek's defense knocked down a pass in the end zone on the last play of the game to preserve a 19-13 victory.

"This one was very tough," said Park Rapids head coach Aaron Morris, whose team fell to 0-5 in the Northern Division of the conference and 0-6 overall. "It's tough to come out on the losing end when you know you outplayed them. Instead of being 3-3, we're 0-6. We're three plays away from being .500."

The Panthers appeared ready to pick up their first win of the season by dominating the first quarter in jumping out to an 18-0 lead.

On the first possession of the game, the Panthers drove 57 yards in 10 plays to open the scoring. A short kick gave Park Rapids possession at its own 43. A 17-yard run by Colin Vaadeland, an 8-yard catch by Forrest Drury on fourth-and-8, gains of 11 yards and 9 yards by Drury, and a 5-yard carry by Dan Pike set up a 2-yard TD plunge by Pike. With 8:34 to play in the first quarter, the Panthers had a 6-0 lead.

Roseau was forced to punt on the ensuing series and the Panthers went on a seven-play, 60-yard drive to increase their lead. An 8-yard run by Drury, a 31-yard catch by Kyle Kniss, a 9-yard carry by Pike and a 6-yard gain by Drury set up a 1-yard TD plunge by Pike. At the 3:26 mark, Park Rapids held a 12-0 lead.

The Panthers recovered a fumble at Roseau's 34 and Ian Johnson hit Drury on a 34-yard scoring play on the next play to give Park Rapids an 18-0 advantage with 2:29 left in the opening quarter.

The Rams put together a scoring threat on the next series when Justin Anderson's 25-yard catch and Alex Ziegler's 4-yard gain led to a first down at the Park Rapids 24. But the Panthers' defense held and Park Rapids regained possession at the 20.

Two plays later, Ben Vatnsdal stripped the ball and ran 22 yards for a touchdown. Ziegler's conversion pulled Roseau to within 18-8 with 11:09 to play in the first half.

Park Rapids responded with a 12-play, 52-yard drive. Drury's 10-yard run, Pike's 11-yard run, Johnson's 6-yard run and 9-yard throw to Cole Tretbar, and a pair of 4-yard runs by Pike and Vaadeland gave the Panthers a first down at the Roseau 25. That drive stalled when Roseau recovered a fumble at the 24.

A fumble recovery by Pike gave the Panthers possession at the Roseau 20. However, Park Rapids couldn't take advantage of that turnover as the Rams held and took over at the 18.

Both teams exchanged punts as the Panthers carried an 18-8 lead into the break. Park Rapids dominated the first half, recording 10 first downs and compiling 213 yards in offense while holding Roseau to two first downs and 39 yards.

"We controlled the first half," said Morris. "The kids played well. We should have been up 18-0 or 24-0 at the half."

Roseau more than doubled its offensive production on the opening drive of the second half. A 17-yard catch by Dylan Gjovik on third-and-19 and a defensive holding penalty on fourth down kept the Rams' drive going. Lyle Norman rushed eight straight times for 32 yards and Ziegler gained 2 yards on fourth-and-1 for a first down at the Park Rapids 28. Three plays later, Ziegler hit Okeson on a 25-yard scoring route to cap a 16-play, 77-yard drive. Norman's conversion pulled Roseau to within 18-16 at the 5:19 mark.

After forcing the Panthers to punt, Roseau used a late-hit penalty and a 33-yard run by Norman to set up an 11-yard TD run by Gjovik. Ziegler's conversion gave Roseau a 24-18 lead with 1:38 to go in the third quarter.

On the ensuing series, the Panthers used a 23-yard run by Pike, an 8-yard catch by Tretbar, and 4-yard gains by Vaadeland and Drury to reach the Roseau 19. A holding penalty ended that drive.

Park Rapids' defense delivered by recovering a fumble at the Roseau 30. On the next play, Johnson hit Drury on a 30-yard scoring play to tie the game with 8:41 to play. Pike's kick gave the Panthers a 25-24 lead.

Vaadeland intercepted a pass as the Panthers took over at their own 44 with 6:56 to play.

That drive stalled and Roseau took over with 4:38 to go. An interception by Cory Odland gave Park Rapids the ball at its own 30 with 4:15 left.

The Panthers were forced to punt and Roseau took over at its own 44 with 2:38 showing. A 20-yard catch by Ryan Leverington on fourth-and-6 with 1:08 left set up Okeson's 27-yard TD catch. Ziegler's run gave Roseau a 32-25 lead with 50 seconds to go.

Park Rapids had a chance to tie the game when a 20-yard catch by Kyle Kanten and a late-hit penalty was followed with Vaadeland's 9-yard run as the Panthers reached the Roseau 13. An interception in the end zone on the final play of the game preserved the win as Roseau improved to 1-3 in the conference and 2-4 overall.

The Rams finished with 227 yards in offense with Ziegler passing for 120 yards and Norman rushing 18 times for 81 yards.

Park Rapids compiled 354 yards in total offense. The Panthers rushed for 213 yards with Pike gaining 78 yards on 19 carries, Drury rushing 17 times for 75 yards and Vaadeland gaining 43 yards on 12 attempts. Johnson completed 7 of 15 passes for 141 yards with Drury catching three passes for 73 yards.

"It would have been nice to come out with a win, but there were a lot of positives," said Morris. "The kids played hard the whole game and we had a chance to win it at the end. We'll get there."

The Panthers host East Grand Forks in their home finale Friday night. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Vern Weekley Field.


PR-Pike 2 run (kick blocked)

PR-Pike 1 run (run failed)

PR-Drury 34 pass from Johnson (kick failed)

R-Vatnsdal 22 fumble return (Ziegler run)

R-Okeson 25 pass from Ziegler (Norman run)

R-Gjovik 11 run (Ziegler run)

PR-Drury 30 pass from Johnson (Pike kick)

R-Okeson 27 pass from Ziegler (Ziegler run)


RUSHING. Park Rapids: Pike 19-78, Drury 17-75, Vaadeland 12-43, Johnson 4-17. Roseau: Norman 18-81, Gjovik 1-11.

PASSING. Park Rapids: Johnson 7-15-1 for 141 yards. Roseau: Ziegler 6-20-2 for 120 yards.

RECEIVING. Park Rapids: Drury 3-73, Kniss 1-31, Kanten 1-20, Tretbar 2-17. Roseau: Okeson 2-52, J. Anderson 1-25, Leverington 1-20, Gjovik 1-17, Norman 1-6.