Missed scoring chances cost Park Rapids football team in loss to Pelican Rapids

The Panthers compiled a season high 355 yards in offense, but failed to finish off drives in a 38-14 loss.

NoahMorris (1).JPG
Noah Morris completed 14 of 25 passes for 314 yards and two touchdowns in Park Rapids' 38-14 loss to Pelican Rapids on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise

Jeremy Nordick has seen this scenario far too often this season.

The head coach of the Park Rapids football team once again saw his offense move the ball down the field only to see the opposing defense stop those potential scoring opportunities. Those missed chances, which included two drives that stalled inside the 10-yard line and two others that ended with turnovers, resulted in a 38-14 loss at Pelican Rapids on Friday, Oct. 8.

Despite falling behind early, the Panthers had two chances to get back in the game in the first half. Park Rapids was unable to finish off those two opportunities.

Pelican Rapids jumped out to a 16-0 lead by scoring on its first two possessions.

After forcing Park Rapids to punt on the opening series, the Vikings needed only three plays to drive 52 yards to open the scoring. Timmy Guler followed runs of 15 and 7 yards with a 30-yard touchdown run and conversion to give Pelican Rapids an 8-0 lead with 9:02 to play in the first quarter.


The Panthers were forced to punt again and Pelican Rapids put together an eight-play, 45-yard scoring drive. Guler’s 30-yard run led to a first-and-goal at the 10 before the Pelican Rapids quarterback scored on a 2-yard run on fourth down. Guler’s conversion made it 16-0 at the 4:51 mark.

Both teams exchanged punts before the Panthers threatened to get on the scoreboard. A 71-yard reception by Nick Michaelson led to a first down at the Pelican Rapids 16. A pass interference penalty negated an interception by Peyton Blakeway and led to a first-and-goal at the 6. Noah Morris was sacked for a 16-yard loss on fourth down as the Vikings took over at their own 22.

Park Rapids’ defense held and forced a punt, setting up another scoring chance. Michaelson’s 16-yard reception was followed by a pair of 7-yard runs by Morris as the Panthers marched to the Pelican Rapids 5. Tristan Hill was stopped for no gain on fourth down and the Vikings took over at the 4.

A 10-play, 96-yard scoring drive followed as Pelican Rapids carried a 24-0 lead into the intermission. Guler rushed for 12 yards before hitting Carter Johnson on a 29-yard route. After a 35-yard TD was called back by a holding penalty, Guler rushed for 10 yards and hit Hunter Williams for an 18-yard connection before finding Blakeway for a 17-yard TD. Guler ran in the conversion as the Vikings extended their lead with :15 showing in the first half.

“After trailing 16-0, it was extremely crucial that we put together a drive and get some points on the board. Unfortunately, we just didn't execute on fourth-and-short,” said Nordick. “I felt we really needed to get our team jumpstarted. We came out flat, and I take the responsibility on that. We didn't come out with enough intensity and enthusiasm. Pelican Rapids did, and made us pay for it.”

The Panthers finished off their first drive of the second half as a 48-yard reception by Kaleb Stearns and a 15-yard run by Hill sparked a march to the Pelican Rapids 17. A roughing-the-passer penalty negated an interception and gave Park Rapids a first-and-goal at the 10. Hill’s 5-yard run on second down set up a 5-yard TD pass from Morris to Jaxson Lund. Hill ran in the conversion and the Panthers trailed 24-8 with 6:33 to play in the third quarter.

Guler’s 23-yard run and 10-yard pass to Blakeway led the Vikings to the Park Rapids 33 on the ensuing series, but Michaelson's interception and 16-yard return gave the Panthers possession at their own 36.

Stearns’ 21-yard catch and Michaelson’s 24-yard reception marched the Panthers to the Pelican Rapids 20. Two plays later, Carter Johnson intercepted a Morris pass and returned it 80 yards for a TD as the Vikings led 30-8 with 1:22 left in the third quarter.


On the next series, Pelican Rapids recovered a fumble at its own 32. The Vikings were forced to punt and the Panthers responded when Morris hit Michaelson for a 75-yard TD. That made it 30-14 with 8:19 to play.

Pelican Rapids concluded the scoring with a seven-play, 70-yard drive with a 15-yard reception by Luke Sjolie and an 8-yard reception by Blakeway setting up a 35-yard TD reception by Blakeway on fourth-and-4. Guler ran in the conversion to give the Vikings a 38-14 lead with 6:02 remaining.

Matt Johanning rushed for 18 yards and Parker Harmon caught a 10-yard pass as the Panthers drove to the Pelican Rapids 28, but that drive stalled and the Vikings ran out the final 2:38.

“I was pleased with how our guys responded in the third quarter, and really the whole second half for the most part. I thought we played how we are capable of playing, but we just dug ourselves too much of a hole in the first half,” said Nordick. “Some of the big plays on both sides of the ball from our kids in the second half I thought were outstanding, however, not consistent enough to beat a good football team. The 96-yard drive on defense was pretty tough to swallow because we had a couple chances to get off the field on third down, and we just didn't quite make the play.”

The Panthers finished with a season high 355 yards with Morris completing 14 of 25 passes for 314 yards and Michaelson hauling in seven passes for 218 yards. Hill rushed 14 times for 32 yards as Park Rapids was limited to only 41 yards on the ground as Morris was sacked four times.

Johanning and Josiah May (who had three tackles behind the line of scrimmage) made five solo tackles each while Michaelson and Cory Johnson had four solo tackles apiece. Kobe Burton and Mason Yliniemi each recorded a sack as the Panthers fell to 1-5 this season.

Guler rushed 23 times for 146 yards and completed 12 of 21 passes for 163 yards as the Vikings compiled 346 yards in offense. Blakeway caught six passes for 79 yards as Pelican Rapids improved to 4-2.

In the other Week 6 games involving Section 8AAA teams, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton shut out Hawley 21-0, Fergus Falls defeated Roseau 56-12, Thief River Falls blanked Frazee 36-0, Perham edged Osakis 29-29 and East Grand Forks blanked Crookston 14-0. In the other games involving Midwest Red District teams, Pequot Lakes defeated Pillager 41-30 and Detroit Lakes lost to Barnesville 49-14.


D-G-F remained undefeated at 6-0 while Fergus Falls improved to 5-1. Perham and East Grand Forks are both 4-2, Thief River Falls is 2-4 and Roseau is 0-6 in the section and district standings. Detroit Lakes fell to 3-3 and Pequot Lakes improved to 1-5 in district play.

The Panthers will host Detroit Lakes in their final home game of the season at Vern Weekley Field on Friday, Oct. 15. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

“It's our last home game of the year and the very last home game for our seniors. I think our kids and coaches will be excited for the opportunity this week,” said Nordick. “We will need to play with much more enthusiasm across the board to win Friday night. Coaches, players and fans all know how close we are to turning the corner. Now it's just a matter of doing it.”

Park Rapids 0 0 8 6...14
Pelican Rapids 16 8 6 8...38
PEL-Guler 30 run (Guler run)
PEL-Guler 2 run (Guler run)
PEL-Blakeway 17 pass from Guler (Guler run)
PR-Lund 5 pass from Morris (Hill run)
PEL-Johnson 80 interception return (run failed)
PR-Michaelson 75 pass from Morris (run failed)
PEL-Blakeway 35 pass from Guler (Guler run)
RUSHING. Park Rapids: Hill 14-32, Johanning 1-18, May 1-2, Morris 9-(-11). Pelican Rapids: Guler 23-146, Johnson 8-26, Blakeway 1-11.
PASSING. Park Rapids: Morris 14-25-1 for 314 yards. Pelican Rapids: Guler 12-21-1 for 163 yards.
RECEIVING. Park Rapids: Michaelson 7-218, Stearns 2-69, Jackson 2-10, Lund 2-7, Harmon 1-10. Pelican Rapids: Blakeway 6-79, Williams 3-35, Johnson 1-29, Sjolie 1-15, Ecker 1-5.
PUNT RETURNS. Park Rapids: Morris 1-6. Pelican Rapids: Blakeway 1-15.
KICKOFF RETURNS. Park Rapids: Stearns 3-46, Lund 2-31, May 1-6. Pelican Rapids: Sjolie 2-26, Johnson 1-11.
SOLO TACKLES: Johanning 5, May 5, Michaelson 4, Johnson 4, Hartung 3, Burton 3, Harmon 3, Yliniemi 3, Larson 2, Hill 2, Lund 1, Stearns 1, Martin 1.
ASSISTED TACKLES: Yliniemi 3, May 2, Hill 2, Johnson 1, Hartung 1.
TACKLES FOR LOSS: May 3, Johanning 1, Harmon 1.
QUARTERBACK SACKS: Burton 1, Yliniemi 1.
INTERCEPTIONS: Michaelson 1.

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
1982 Dawson-Boyd High School graduate
1987 Moorhead State University graduate
Sports reporter for Park Rapids Enterprise since 1987
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