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Football: Big plays lead Perham past Park Rapids in Section 8AAA quarterfinals

The Panthers end the season with a 0-9 record.

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Noah Morris (4), shown throwing a pass to Ryan Carroll during a game against Detroit Lakes, completed 11 of 18 passes for 133 yards in Park Rapids' 34-7 Section 8AAA playoff loss to Perham on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022.
Jared Rubado / Forum News Service
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PERHAM – Perham produced three big plays on offense while shutting down Park Rapids’ offense to open the Section 8AAA football playoffs with a 34-7 victory at Ted Meinhover Field on Tuesday, Oct. 25.

“It is always disappointing to end the season,” said Park Rapids head coach Jeremy Nordick. “This year was especially hard to end because we had so many great kids to work with. They all worked as hard as they could to improve throughout the year, but unfortunately it wasn't in the cards for us.”

The No. 2-seeded Yellowjackets took the opening kickoff and drove 65 yards in four plays to open the scoring. Braylon Rach’s 35-yard run and Gage Aanenson’s 23-yard reception set up a 4-yard TD run by Hudson Hackel. That gave Perham a 6-0 lead with 9:57 to play in the first quarter.

Park Rapids responded as a 10-yard reception by Luke Hartung and a 31-yard catch by Blake Morris produced a first down at the Perham 33. A holding penalty stalled that drive and the No. 7-seeded Panthers were forced to punt.

A 60-yard TD pass from Blaiz Schmidt to Noah Thompson ended a quick four-play, 75-yard scoring drive as the Yellowjackets led 14-0 with 3:43 remaining in the first quarter.

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After both teams exchanged punts, Perham extended its lead to 20-0 on a 42-yard TD connection from Schmidt to Thompson with 5:38 to play in the first half.

Park Rapids was forced to punt again and the Yellowjackets closed the half with a 10-play, 40-yard scoring drive. Hackel’s 24-yard carry and 5-yard run on fourth-and-3 at the 6 set up a 1-yard TD plunge by Schmidt with :06 on the clock as Perham carried a 27-0 lead into the half.

“In a game like that on the road, you have to get off to a good start. We just came out on our heels. Credit the Perham kids for being locked in from the start,” said Nordick. “I thought we responded well with a good drive and a big play, but then again we had a couple penalties that just set us back. Things like that have been the story of the season. We get things rolling a bit, then we make a small mistake that ends up costing us more than we think.”

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Park Rapids' Kale Ravnaas attempts to tackle Perham's Hudson Hackel during a Section 8AAA playoff game on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022.
Jared Rubado / Forum News Service

The Panthers opened the second half with a nine-play, 74-yard scoring drive. Noah Morris rushed four times for 24 yards and Cory Johnson followed with an 11-yard carry before Noah Morris hit Matt Johanning on a 33-yard scoring route. Noah Morris’ kick cut the gap to 27-7 with 7:18 remaining in the third quarter.

Perham quickly regained the momentum when Hackel returned the ensuing kickoff 82 yards for a score. With 7:02 left in the third quarter, the Yellowjackets held a 34-7 lead.

On the ensuing series, Noah Morris’ 19-yard run gave the Panthers a first down at the Perham 44. But that drive stalled at the 35.

After forcing Perham to punt, the Panthers put together another scoring threat when a personal foul penalty on the Yellowjackets and Joanning’s 9-yard reception led to a first down at the Perham 48. Park Rapids was called for a personal foul penalty, which ended that drive despite Hartung’s two receptions for 15 yards and an 11-yard catch by Landon Strasburg on fourth-and-12.

Neither team produced another first down the rest of the game as Perham advanced.

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Park Rapids finished with 232 yards on offense with Noah Morris completing 11 of 18 passes for 133 yards and rushing 13 times for 66 yards to lead the way. Johanning caught four passes for 53 yards and Hartung had five receptions for 38 yards. The Panthers possessed the ball for 25:59 while recording 12 first downs.

Schmidt completed 5 of 7 passes for 124 yards, Rach rushed for 87 yards on eight carries and Thompson caught two passes for 102 yards as the Yellowjackets finished with 267 yards offensively.

Perham improved to 5-4 while the Panthers ended the season with a 0-9 record. The Yellowjackets shut out Park Rapids 22-0 in the season opener.

In the other Section 8AAA quarterfinal games, No. 3 East Grand Forks blanked No. 6 Roseau 34-0 and No. 4 Thief River Falls defeated No. 5 Fergus Falls 33-14.

“I'm always proud of our kids and staff. We were certainly up against it all year with the schedule we played. It's probably one of the toughest in the state,” said Nordick. “For us to take one more step to be able to beat these teams, we'll need a full investment from staff, kids, parents and everyone involved in the program. It's not easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is. We don't have the 20-25 seniors like everyone else on our schedule has. Our emphasis will have to be on outworking every opponent, each moment of every day. The offseason has already started. We're excited about our 6-1 JV team. The lone loss was in overtime at Detroit Lakes. The fact of the matter is that JV seasons are building seasons and they are much different than Friday nights. We can build off that success, but still need to get much better to win in this section. Our seniors will go on and do some very big things. They did move the needle forward with our program, even though the record doesn't show it. When we finally overcome on Friday nights and turn into a traditional contender, these seniors can look back and know that they had a major impact on the success of Panther football.”

Park Rapids 0 0 7 0…7

Perham 14 13 7 0…34

SCORING

PER–Hackel 4 run (kick failed)

PER–Thompson 60 pass from Schmidt (Rach run)

PER–Thompson 42 pass from Schmidt (run failed)

PER–Schmidt 1 run (Hackel kick)

PR–Johanning 33 pass from N. Morris (N. Morris kick)

PER–Hackel 82 kickoff return (Hackel kick)

OFFENSIVE STATISTICS

RUSHING. Park Rapids: N. Morris 13-66, C. Johnson 7-18, Hrdlicka 8-14, Hirt 1-13. Perham: Rach 8-87, Hackel 9-36, Coudron 3-26, Dilbeck 4-7, Schmidt 4-3, Rooney 1-1, Muhaisen 1-(-2), Kennedy 1-(-4).

PASSING. Park Rapids: N. Morris 11-18-0 for 133 yards; Hirt 0-1-0 for 0 yards. Perham: Schmidt 5-7-0 for 124 yards.

RECEIVING: Park Rapids: Hartung 5-38, Johanning 4-53, B. Morris 1-31, Strasburg 1-11. Perham: Thompson 2-102, Aanenson 1-23, Rach 1-2, Hackel 1-(-3).

KICKOFF RETURNS. Park Rapids: Maanum 2-39, Johanning 2-30. Perham: Hackel 2-97.

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