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Patriots rally past Park Rapids in semifinals

The fourth-seeded Pequot Lakes Patriots rallied from a 26-0 deficit to defeat the top-seeded Park Rapids Panthers 34-26 in the Section 8AAA football semifinals on Saturday, Oct. 26, in Park Rapids.

Park Rapids built a 20-0 lead in the first half, and then ran back the second-half kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown to lead by 26-0. The Patriots’ comeback started with 32.3 seconds left in the third quarter when Connor Davich caught a four-yard touchdown pass from quarterback C.J. Borleis. That score started a string of 34 straight points in an unbelievable comeback win.

Pequot Lakes, 5-5 overall, will face third-seeded Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton in the Section 8AAA final at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31, in the Fargodome.

“Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong in the first half,” Lohmiller said. “(Park Rapids) executed their plays to a tee while we started three drives inside our one-yard line. We still played them tough in the first half. Basically, Park Rapids had three big plays or we were stopping them.”

Lohmiller said the second half was better for the visitors despite falling behind 26-0 on a Park Rapids’ kickoff return to start the second half. The Patriots’ rally started with a 90-yard run by senior Tyler Tappe.

“Tappe had a big play for us,” he said. “Things started to go our way. We held Park Rapids to less than 20 yards in the second half, and their defense couldn’t stop us after that as we definitely had the momentum. We had time to throw the ball, and good things will happen when C.J. (Borleis) has time to throw.”

After receiving the opening kickoff, the Patriots fumbled the ball on their fourth play and the Panthers recovered at the PL-30. On fourth down, Tyler McCollum passed to Derek Porozinski for a first-down-and-goal at the seven. From there Ben Baumgartner went in for the game’s first score. The Patriots got a hand on the extra point kick and it was 6-0.

Late in the first quarter, Kyle Sellner intercepted a McCollum pass in the end zone and elected to run it out only to be stopped at the one. Pequot Lakes did reach their 31, but had to punt as the second quarter started.

On their second play Baumgartner broke loose for a 50-yard touchdown gallop, and although the two-point attempt failed, the Panthers led 12-0.

Park Rapids used a little trickery on the kickoff as they recovered an onside kick into a strong wind. Three plays later, McCollum passed to Noah MacPherson for a 38-yard touchdown pass. MacPherson ran the two-pointer to make it 20-0.

The Panthers then kicked another onside kick and recovered it at the PL 48. Three plays later, Chris Westman sacked McCollum back at the Panthers’ 45 and he suffered a shoulder injury and the talented quarterback did not return.

The rest of the half was scoreless as neither team generated much. Park Rapids extended the lead to start the third quarter when Severtson took the kickoff and rambled 82 yards for the touchdown. The kick missed, but the Panthers led 26-0, which looked pretty much insurmountable at that time.

But the visitors began to rally late in the quarter on a drive that started at the Patriots’ one-yard line. Three plays later, Tappe raced 90 yards to set up a first-and-goal situation, and ignited a fuse to an offensive explosion.

Borleis then passed to Connor Davich for a four-yard score with 32.3 seconds remaining in the third period. The two-point conversion pass was batted down and it was 26-6.

The Patriots then tried an onside kick and Travis Jacobson recovered it at the PR 46. Travis Jacobson then caught a 28-yard pass for a first down, and on the next play Borleis hit Justin Mackenthun with an 18-yard scoring strike. Borleis ran the two-point conversion to trim the deficit to 26-14 as time expired on the quarter.

The Patriots later started a drive from their 24-yard line following a punt, and that’s where Borleis connected with Davich on a pass that covered 71 yards for a first-and-goal situation. Mackenthun then scored on a two-yard run with 8:31 left in the game. MacPherson blocked Borleis kick, but the relentless Patriots now trailed 26-20.

Borleis ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, but on the Panthers’ first play the Patriots recovered at their 28. Three plays later, Borleis hit Davich with a 16-yard pass for a first down, and on the next play it was again Borleis to Davich for the final 16 yards to tie it 26-26 with 7:01 left. Borleis kicked the point for a 27-26 lead.

On the next series, Pequot Lakes had the ball back again when Davich intercepted a pass at the Panthers’ 32. On the next play, Shea Zeidler ran 32 yards for the score to make it 34-26.

With the Panthers needing a touchdown and two-point conversion to tie it, Davich came up with his second interception of the day with 3:39 left at the PL 36.

Four carries by Zeidler moved the ball to the PR 19, but Borleis was sacked back at the 25 with only 1:38 remaining. Then on fourth-and-11, Borleis passed 19 yards to Jacobson to keep the drive alive. Time eventually ran out and the Patriots advanced with an incredible comeback win.

Tappe finished with 144 yards rushing whiel Borleis completed 12 passes for 188 yards and three touchdowns and Connor Davich had four catches for 98 yards.

Pequot Lakes 0 0 14 20 — 34

Park Rapids 6 14 6 0 — 26

First quarter

PR-Ben Baumgartner 7 run (kick failed)

Second quarter

PR-Jon Burlingame 50 run (run failed)

PR-Noah MacPherson 38 pass from Tyler McCollum (MacPherson run)

Third quarter

PR-Josh Severston 80 kickoff return (kick failed) :14

PL-Connor Davich 3 pass from C.J. Borleis (run failed) 11:28

PL-Justin Mackenthun 18 pass from Borleis (run good) 12:00

Fourth quarter

PL-Mackenthun 1 run (kick failed) 3:29

PL-Davich 15 pass from Borleis (Borleis kick) 4:59

PL-Shae Zeidler 32 run (Borleis kick) 9:40

Team statisitcs:

Rushing yards: PL 208, PR 96

Passing yards: PL 188, PR 75

Total yards: PL 396, PR 171

Individual leaders:

Rushing: PL-Tyler Tappe 15-144, Mackenthun 6-8, Shae Zeidler 9-54

Passing: PL-C.J. Borleis 12-20-188

Receiving: Connor Davich 4-98, Mackenthun 4-47, Travis Jacobson 3-42