Football: Late field goal lifts Fergus Falls past Park Rapids
Despite compiling 413 yards in offense, the Panthers fall to 0-2 on the season.
FERGUS FALLS – Jaydon Manteufel’s 27-yard field goal with :03 remaining lifted Fergus Falls to a 17-14 victory over Park Rapids in a Section 8AAA and Midwest Red District football game on Friday, Sept. 9.
With the game tied at 14-14 with 2:03 to play, the Panthers were driving for the go-ahead score when Jaydon Walen’s two carries for 12 yards and Matt Johanning’s 14-yard reception led to a first down at the Fergus Falls 13. A lost fumble on the next play ended that threat.
The Otters took over at their own 20-yard line with 1:00 remaining. Levi King’s 58-yard reception set up the game-winning field goal.
“It was certainly a heartbreaker for our kids and staff. I don't think there was one person on our sidelines that thought we weren't going to win that ball game,” said Park Rapids head coach Jeremy Nordick. “That's high school football. Over 1,000 people were treated to a very exciting football game. Always proud of our kids and staff. (Friday) night was no exception. We played our tails off again until the final whistle. If we continue to do that, our time will come.”
Both teams scored on their first two possessions before the defenses took over.
Fergus Falls marched 63 yards on the opening series with Griffin Babolian’s 4-yard TD run and Manteufel’s kick producing a 7-0 lead.
The Panthers countered with a seven-play, 74-yard drive. Noah Morris’ 12-yard TD run and Walen’s kick tied the game with 2:46 to play in the first quarter.
Babolian’s 64-yard TD run and Manteufel’s kick gave the Otters a 14-7 advantage to close out the first quarter.
Park Rapids responded as Walen’s 49-yard TD run and kick tied the game at 14-14 with 11:31 remaining in the first half.
In the second half, Park Rapids’ defense forced three punts and stopped a Fergus Falls drive when Blake Morris intercepted a pass before allowing the game-winning drive.
Offensively, the Panthers were forced to punt on their first two possessions before putting together three scoring threats.
Walen’s 72-yard run gave the Panthers a first-and-goal at the Fergus Falls 8-yard line, but a holding penalty and a missed field goal ended that threat.
On the next series, Johanning’s 13-yard reception and Walen’s 9-yard carry brought the Panthers to the Fergus Falls 25. But that drive stalled.
The lost fumble on Park Rapids’ final series set up the Otters’ game-winning drive.
Balbolian rushed 17 times for 166 yards as the Otters used 306 yards in offense to improve to 1-1.
Walen finished with 211 yards on 20 carries while Morris completed 10 of 18 passes for 141 yards with Johanning making six catches for 104 yards as the Panthers fell to 0-2 on the season despite compiling 413 yards in offense.
“On both sides of the ball, we had chances again to take over the game. I was pleased to see the defense regroup after giving up two early TDs. I was also pleased to see our offense respond with TDs after the Otters scored,” said Nordick. “Obviously, it's tough to look back at the film and realize just how many opportunities that we had to win that ball game. It wasn't our time...yet.”
In the other Week 2 Section 8AA and Midwest Red District games, Perham edged Thief River Falls 13-10, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton topped Pequot Lakes 36-34, Detroit Lakes defeated East Grand Forks 21-7 and Roseau defeated Underwood 14-6.
Park Rapids will prepare for its homecoming game against East Grand Forks this Friday night (Sept. 16). Kickoff at Vern Weekley Field is set for 6 p.m.
“Most people don't think we have any business competing with these bigger schools (like Fergus Falls). Our staff and kids absolutely love the challenge every week. To turn a struggling program into a winning program, you have to earn it and own every adversity obstacle and learn from it. I know we're a good football team. I know my coaches and kids will continue to learn and grow. I believe more than ever that Park Rapids football is coming,” said Nordick. “We'll work even harder and try to break through. EGF is a tough and talented team. We need to be locked in and ready for a four-quarter battle for homecoming.”