Back-to-back plays on special teams sparked East Grand Forks to a 27-0 Section 8AAA and Midwest Red District victory over the Park Rapids football team at East Grand Forks on Friday, Sept. 17.
On the opening series, a pass interference penalty on the Panthers gave EGF a first down near midfield before the Green Wave was forced to punt.
A holding penalty on the punt return pushed Park Rapids back to its own 7-yard line. Three plays later, the Panthers were forced to punt when Sam Schumacher blocked Nick Michaelson’s kick and EGF recovered at the Park Rapids 1.
On the next play, quarterback Tanner Campos snuck in for a touchdown and Justin Overgaard kicked the extra point to give EGF a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
EGF recovered the ensuing kickoff at the Park Rapids 31 and seven plays later Overgaard scored on a 2-yard run and kicked the extra point as the Green Wave led 14-0.
Those two plays proved pivotal for the Panthers.
“We had a great week of practice and felt confident and ready to go get a win. The terrible start just was huge in setting the tone for the game,” said Park Rapids head coach Jeremy Nordick. “The two special teams plays put us in a very tough situation that I still felt we could recover from. Only problem is, we haven't learned to recover from the adversity yet. I've said this before, but teams that are trying to move from a struggling culture to a winning culture need to learn to overcome adversity and string together enough big moments consistently to put together a win. We have not been able to do that yet. I believe this team still can learn to win, but we need to get mentally and emotionally stronger. The physical aspect, I think we are right there.”
EGF mounted another scoring threat on its next series, highlighted by Cooper Smith’s 19-yard reception on fourth-and-7, but that 12-play drive was stopped at the Park Rapids 1.
Schumacher’s 4-yard TD reception in the second quarter gave the Green Wave a 20-0 lead at the half. After a scoreless third period, Landon Woidtke’s 5-yard TD run concluded the scoring.
The Panthers managed only 107 yards in offense with Noah Morris completing 10 of 19 passes for 61 yards, Tristan Hill rushing six times for 29 yards, and Logan Jackson making five receptions for 25 yards.
Park Rapids defense limited EGF to 185 yards, including 124 yards on the ground. Campos completed 6 of 8 passes for 61 yards, Overgaard rushed eight times for 37 yards and Schumacher had two receptions for 17 yards as the Green Wave improved to 1-0 in section play and 2-1 in district play.
Hill led the Panthers’ defense with 10 solo tackles and five assists while Noah Larson had eight solo tackles and three assists. Kaleb Stearns and Kobe Burton had four solo tackles apiece as Park Rapids fell to 0-3 in both the district and section.
“Offensively, in key moments, we are making too many mistakes. Ultimately in high school football, you cannot win if you turn over the football and rack up penalty yards. Bottom line is we need to simplify everything,” said Nordick. “Defensively, we put our kids in bad positions with poor field position. We didn't move the ball enough and our special teams just put our defense in terrible positions. I'm proud of our goal line stand and our ability to battle on that side of the ball for four quarters. There were a few opportunities on fourth down that we were not able to get off the field as well. A few adjustments this week should help take care of that.”
In the other Week 3 Section 8AAA and Midwest Red District games, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton routed Perham 48-0, Fergus Falls topped Pequot Lakes 13-6, Detroit Lakes blanked Thief River Falls 28-0 and Roseau fell to Parkers Prairie 32-6. D-G-F (2-0 in section games) and Fergus Falls (1-0 in section games) improved to 3-0 on the season while Perham joined EGF at 2-1. TRF and Roseau are both 0-3.
The Panthers will host Pequot Lakes for homecoming this Friday night (Sept. 24) with a 6 p.m. kickoff at Vern Weekley Field. Pequot Lakes is 0-3 on the season with district losses to East Grand Forks (27-12) and D-G-F (20-18). Nordick is looking for his team to put together four solid quarters and pick up its first win of the season.
“Pequot Lakes will bring a load of talented young athletes over,” said Nordick. “Every team on our schedule has plenty of talent and size. We need to play smarter football to win.”