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Patriots fall to Crusaders in state semifinals

Quarterback Cale Wolf attempts a pass in the second quarter of the Patriots' state semifinal game against St. Croix Lutheran Academy on Saturday, Nov. 18. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

After eight consecutive victories, the Pequot Lakes Patriots found themselves on the losing end of their State Class 3A semifinal game in a 45-7 loss to the St. Croix Lutheran Academy Crusaders on Saturday, Nov. 18.

The St. Croix victory came on the back of a rushing attack that racked up 298 yards and a defense that stifled the Patriots’ running game.

“Defensively, we did what we wanted to do, and that is stop their outside running game and force them to throw,” Crusaders coach Carl Lemke said. “Defensively, in a nutshell, that is what worked for us … It was beyond our wildest dreams to stop their running game as we did. That was really a positive thing.”

The Crusaders jumped out to an early lead on an 18-yard touchdown by running back James Chernohorsky. They then forced a Patriot three-and-out and promptly scored again on a one-yard rush by Mike Stern.

Early in the second quarter, Patriot quarterback Blake Lane left the game with an upper body injury and would not return to the game, bringing sophomore Cale Wolf under center.

“I think that threw us off a little bit, but we have (Wolf), and we have a lot of trust in him,” senior receiver Austin Young said. “When he comes in the game, we know he can make some big plays as well.”

Down 14-0, Wolf and company brought the ball down to the Crusader 5-yard line, but an incomplete pass on fourth down led to a key turnover for the Patriots.

“That was probably the most critical moment of the game,” Lemke said.

The Crusaders scored with 13 seconds remaining in the first half, and went into the locker room with a 21-0 lead.

After the Crusaders picked up two touchdowns and a field goal in the third quarter and one more in the fourth, the Patriots got on the board early in the fourth quarter when Wolf found a wide-open Young on a skinny post route for a 62-yard passing touchdown.

“The defender got his hands on me (near the line of scrimmage) but I kind of swiped his hands away,” Young said. “He fell down, and then it was just green from there.”

Young led the Patriot offense, catching six passes for 148 yards with a touchdown.

Coming in for an injured Blake Lane at quarterback, sophomore Cale Wolf completed six passes for 139 yards and a touchdown. He also threw two interceptions.

Kick returners Bode Magnuson and Deven Psyck combined for 155 yards on seven returns.

On the ground, Traut led the team with 34 yards, but the Patriots combined for -40 rushing yards - due in part to the seven sacks the Patriots allowed.

“With Blake (Lane) going down, that pretty much took away about half of our offense because Blake can run the ball and Cale does not run the ball,” Lohmiller said. “A lot of our jet options, read options and boots were basically thrown out the door, so we were trying to adjust. “

The Patriots finish the season with an overall record of 9-3. A state semifinal appearance marks the best finish in team history.

“We set a standard here,” Lohmiller said. “The guys set that goal (of making it to state) in fourth or fifth grade and have been talking about it ever since. They did that. They had a great season. Going to the section championship in seven of the last nine years is kind of a big thing. I think this sets a pretty good standard for Pequot football.”

Pequot Lakes 0 0   0 7 - 45St. Croix Lutheran 14 7 17 7 - 7First quarterSCL-James Chernohorsky 18 run (Rafael Rehme kick) 8:05SCL-Mike Stern 1 run (Rehme kick) 1:57Second quarterSCL-Jonathan Liesener 2 run (Rehme kick) :13Third quarterSCL-Stern 17 run (Rehme kick) 9:58SCL-Garett Maag 67 pass from Liesener (Rehme kick) 7:04SCL-Rehme 26 FG :33Fourth quarterSCL-Stern 2 run (Rehme kick) 9:47PL-Austin Young 62 pass from Cale Wolf (Chase Larson kick) 9:27Team statisticsRushes-yards: PL 26-(-40), SCL 46-298Pass comp-att-int-yds: PL 7-15-2-165, SCL 6-8-0-154Total offense: PL 125, SCL 452 Individual leadersRushing: PL: Nathan Traut 12-34, Deven Psyck 2-(-2), Calvin Maske 2-(-5); SCL: Stern 18-135, Chernohorsky 8-51, Liesener 3-59, Seth Goplen 3-22; Isaiah Allen 5-14Passing: PL: Cale Wolf 6-14-2-139, Blake Lane 1-1-0-26; SCL: Liesener 6-8-0-154Receiving: PL: Austin Young 6-148, Traut 1-17; SCL: Garett Maag 5-131, Stephen Kletscher 1-23
Dan Determan

Staff Writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper.