A stingy defense and a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs by Jens Anderson led the Park Rapids football team to a 14-0 win at Thief River Falls in the regular-season finale on Wednesday, Oct. 16.
The win snapped a 14-game losing streak for the Panthers while extending Thief River Falls’ losing streak to 24 games. Park Rapids’ last win was a 34-0 shutout over Thief River Falls in Week 2 of last season while the Prowlers’ last victory was in a 7-6 win over Park Rapids in Week 2 of the 2017 season. Thief River Falls is now 1-28 in the last 29 games.
The Panthers held Thief River Falls to 0 yards and one first down (on a roughing-the-passer penalty just before halftime) in carrying a 6-0 lead into the intermission.
Park Rapids’ first three possessions resulted in an interception, a punt and a loss on downs at the TRF 27 while the Prowlers had to punt four times.
Anderson’s 1-yard quarterback keeper on fourth-and-goal capped off an eight-play, 39-yard drive to give Park Rapids a 6-0 lead with :27 remaining before the intermission.
Park Rapids’ defense allowed only 15 plays in five TRF possessions in the first half. The Prowlers passed for 10 yards and had minus 10 yards on nine rushing attempts.
After forcing Thief River Falls to punt on the opening series of the second half, the Panthers marched 51 yards in five plays to pad the lead. Anderson’s 47-yard run set up another 1-yard plunge by Anderson, who hit Joe Klein on the two-point conversion to give Park Rapids a 14-0 lead with 7:08 remaining in the third quarter.
Both teams exchanged punts before the Prowlers put together their two best drives of the game.
A 21-yard run by Kaden Bakken and an 11-yard gain by Bryven Lingen led Thief River Falls to the Park Rapids 35. But a bad snap resulted in a 22-yard loss as the Prowlers were forced to punt.
On the ensuing series, Caleb David rushed six times for 46 yards (including a 24-yard gain) as the Panthers reached the TRF 32. But an interception by Cody Hultz at the 2 ended that drive.
The Prowlers then went on a nine-play drive as Zach Praska caught passes of 26, 12 and 17 yards and a roughing-the-passer penalty resulted in a first down at the Park Rapids 12. A holding penalty and James Hartig’s interception at the 20 ended that threat with 3:57 to play.
TRF lost possession on downs and Josiah May’s two carries for 11 yards helped the Panthers run out the clock.
Park Rapids finished with 206 offensive yards, including 207 yards rushing. Anderson rushed 23 times for 121 yards while David added 68 yards on 13 carries. Gabe Arola (9), David (8), Klein (7) and Joe Stachowski (7) were the Panthers’ leading tacklers.
The Prowlers, who now have been outscored 326-35 this season, finished with 104 offensive yards and seven first downs in the game.
Park Rapids received the No. 7 seed and will travel to No. 2 Pequot Lakes in a Section 8AAA quarterfinal game on Tuesday (Oct. 22). That playoff opener will kick off at 6 p.m.