Scoring on big plays, especially on the defensive side of the ball, has been a trademark of the Pequot Lakes football team this season.
The Patriots used that formula Friday night at Vern Weekley Field to spark a 32-20 win to spoil Park Rapids’ homecoming game.
After back-to-back touchdowns by Cody Dravis gave the Panthers a 14-6 lead late in the first half, Body Magnuson’s 72-yard TD catch and run tied the game at 14-14 at the half. Pequot Lakes maintained the momentum when Dylan Mesenbrink returned a fumble 75 yards for a TD and Tim Ryan returned a fumble 81 yards for another score. A 65 -yard TD catch and run by Daltin Ackerman pushed the lead to 32-14 as the Patriots prevailed in this battle of Section 8AAA and Midwest Red District rivals.
In the first four games of the season, the Patriots scored five touchdowns by the defense and added a TD by the special teams on a kickoff return. Magnuson had two interception returns and an 84-yard kickoff return for scores while Ackerman returned an interception and a fumble for TDs. James Brennan also returned an interception for a TD. Magnuson had a 71-yard TD reception and Nic Kotaska broke free for a 55-yard TD run as Pequot Lakes opened the season with wins over Staples-Motley and Fergus Falls before losing to Perham and Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton while being shut out by Detroit Lakes.
The Patriots needed to continue that trend Friday night as both teams were looking to snap three-game losing streaks.
Park Rapids’ defense sacked Pequot Lakes quarterback Cale Wolf twice to force the Patriots to punt on their first two series. Pequot Lakes returned the favor by sacking Park Rapids quarterback Jens Anderson for a 15-yard loss on the Panthers’ second drive. A bad snap on the punt gave the Patriots possession at the Park Rapids 28.
Two plays later, Wolf hit Ackerman on a 28-yard scoring route. The extra-point kick failed as Pequot Lakes held a 6-0 lead with 4:39 to play in the first quarter.
The Panthers responded with an impressive 16-play, 84-yard scoring drive to tie the game. Anderson’s 6-yard run and a personal-foul penalty on Pequot Lakes for unsportsmanlike conduct, a 10-yard gain by Dravis, a 6-yard run by Dravis on fourth-and-1 at the Pequot Lakes 44, a 5-yard run by Anderson on third-and-5, and two carries for 14 yards by Dravis set up a 7-yard TD run by Dravis. Park Rapids also missed the extra-point kick as the game was tied at 6-6 with 9:17 to play in the first half.
On the ensuing series, Carter Sjoblad’s 18-yard catch led to a first down at midfield, but Park Rapids’ defense held and forced a punt.
The Panthers used Spencer Fritze’s punt return to the 50 to start an 11-play scoring drive. Dravis rushed four times for 25 yards, including a 7-yard gain on fourth-and-2 at the 30. A holding penalty wiped out an 18-yard gain by Dravis, but the Panthers used an 8-yard catch by Jerry Engst and a personal-foul penalty on the Patriots for a horsecollar tackle for a first down at the Pequot Lakes 12. A 4-yard run by Dravis set up an 8-yard TD run by Dravis and two-point conversion catch by Engst as the Panthers took a 14-6 lead with 1:41 left before the break.
On the Patriots’ next play from scrimmage, Magnuson took a short pass over the midde from Wolf and sprinted 73 yards for the score. Magnuson caught the conversion pass as the game was tied at 14-14 with 1:12 remaining before halftime.
Park Rapids used a 7-yard catch by Jeff Haas and 14-yard reception by Persons to reach the Pequot Lakes 41, but that drive stalled as the half ended.
Park Rapids took the opening kickoff of the second half and used a 33-yard run by Dravis to reach the Pequot Lakes 23. On the next play, Mesenbrink scooped up a fumble and returned it 75 yards for a TD. That gave the Patriots a 20-14 lead with 10:15 left in the third quarter.
Both teams exchanged punts before the Panthers used a bad snap on a punt by the Patriots to take over at the Pequot Lakes 41. Four plays later, Ryan picked up a fumble and returned it 81 yards for a TD. That play extended Pequot Lakes’ lead to 26-14 with 2:00 remaining in the third quarter.
Both teams exchanged punts before the Panthers put together a threat with a 10-play drive. However, that drive stalled at the Pequot Lakes 28.
The Patriots pushed the lead to 32-14 with 2:40 remaining on a 65-yard pass from Wolf to Ackerman.
Park Rapids concluded the scoring as a run by Persons to the Pequot Lakes 23 set up a 10-yard TD pass from Anderson to Persons with 1:22 to play.
Perham’s 30-7 win over East Grand Forks Friday night tightened up the Section 8AAA race as Perham improved to 3-0 in the section and 4-2 overall whiel EGF fell to 3-1 in section games and 4-2 overall. D-G-F (3-1 in the section) fell to 3-3 overall with a 41-19 loss to Detroit Lakes while Thief River Falls (0-4 in the section) fell to 0-6 overall with a 30-0 loss to Fergus Falls.
Detroit Lakes (6-0 overall) improved to 5-0 in the district with East Grand Forks, Perham, D-G-F and Fergus Falls (3-3 overall) sitting at 3-2. Pequot Lakes improved to 2-3 in district play while the Panthers fell to 1-4. Thief River Falls is 0-5 against district teams.
Park Rapids will attempt to snap a four-game losing streak with a road game at Fergus Falls this Friday night (Oct. 12). Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Pequot Lakes 6 8 12 6...32
Park Rapids 0 14 0 6...20
PL--Ackerman 28 pass from Wolf (kick failed)
PR--Dravis 7 run (kick failed)
PR--Dravis 8 run (Engst pass from Anderson)
PL--Magnuson 73 pass from Wolf (Magnuson pass from Wolf)
PL--Mesenbrink 75 fumble return (kicked blocked)
PL--Ryan 81 fumble return (run failed)
PL--Ackerman 65 pass from Wolf (kick failed)
PR--Persons 10 pass from Anderson (run failed)