It was almost a perfect second quarter for the Pequot Lakes Patriots.
Then it was just a matter of hanging on, which the Patriots did for a 41-30 homecoming victory over the Pillager Huskies Friday, Oct. 8.
Aside from penalties, Pequot played a mistake-free first half, but it was the second quarter that brought fireworks for the home crowd. On the first play of the second frame, Patriots quarterback Grant Loge found Cullen Kratochvil for a 5-yard touchdown pass and a 7-0 lead.
Two possessions later, Loge found Evin Ruud on a 39-yard fly route and a 14-0 Pequot lead.
Pequot’s Ryan Harmala then secured his second interception of the half three plays later. The Patriots took advantage three plays after that when freshman Bryer Nordby sliced through the Huskies’ defense for an 11-yard touchdown run and a 21-0 halftime edge.
“We finally got some things bouncing our way in that second quarter,” Pequot head coach Bill Magnuson said. “It was a pretty even first quarter, but we took advantage of Evan’s height and the run game put one in there.
“I was just excited for our kids. They worked very hard for this moment.”
Then came the track meet. Pequot used a 13-play, 73-yard drive to build a 27-0 lead. The drive was capped off by Colten Cain’s 3-yard run, but Nordby’s 26-yard run on fourth and 2 extended the drive.
After a first half in which it only gained 54 yards, Pillager’s offense came to life. A nine-play, 62-yard drive ended with Quintin Leveau’s 1-yard TD run.
Two plays later Caden Nelson put Pequot up 34-8 with a 40-yard TD run.
Leveau and the Huskies answered with a 35-yard touchdown run and a 34-16 score.
Pequot’s next possession stalled at the Pillager 33, but four plays later Pillager’s Jacob Dixon sprinted in from 47 yards out for a 34-24 score.
Pequot tried to run some clock on its next possession but Nordby and Nelson ran off 54 yards on just four plays with Nelson scoring from 19 yards out. Nelson finished with 161 yards on just 16 carries. Nordby added 66 yards on nine carries and caught two passes for 27 yards.
Pillager wouldn’t go away, however, as one play later Brayton Kriegl took a sneaky reverse 63 yards for another Pillager touchdown and a 41-30 score.
“We didn’t have any adjustments in the second half, we just went back to what we normally do,” Pillager head coach Paul Peterson said. “We didn’t think we would match up very well so we were trying some things and those things didn’t work as well as the things we normally do. So we went back to what we normally do and rode Leveau and Jacob Dixon.”
But there was just 1:46 remaining on the clock and Pequot this time successfully took time off the clock to end the game and give itself the first victory of the season, while keeping the Huskies still in search of win No. 1.
“We see (Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton) and Pillager’s type of offense and it’s very hard to stop, but we seem to align right and get some stops,” Magnuson said. “Then we forced them into some passing situations and we got three picks. Harmala had two of those. I’m pretty proud of our defense.”
Pequot enjoyed a complementary offense as it rushed for 281 yards and Loge was 12-of-24 passing for 201 yards. Plus, the Patriots didn’t turn the ball over.
“When you start doing both of these things you’re harder to defend,” Magnuson said. “We got healthy this week, too. Last week, we had seven starters out. This week we got four back and you could tell we had a little more pep in our step. And then we had a freshman (Nordby) come in and run the ball, not like a freshman.”
After a poor first half, Pillager finished with 285 yards or rushing offense. Leveau finished with 132 yards on 16 carries. Dixon added 75 yards on 10 carries and Brayton Kriegl concluded with 70 yards.
“We take some positives from this game and you could see it on our sidelines,” Peterson said. “The kids were having fun. We are not what our record says we are. We turn a couple of breaks in the previous games and who knows, we could be .500 or at least a couple of wins.
“I think in the second half, we finally stopped beating Pillager and we’ve been beating Pillager throughout the year. This is something we can build upon for the last two games of the year and then the playoffs.”
Pillager 0 0 8 22 -- 30
Pequot Lakes 0 21 6 14 -- 41
PL-Cullen Kratochvil 5 pass from Grant Loge (Tommy Blomer kick) 11:54
PL-Evin Ruud 39 pass from Loge (Blomer kick) 4:20
PL-Bryer Nordby 11 run (Blomer kick) 2:19
PL-Colten Cain 3 run (kick failed) 5:28
Pill-Quintin Laveau 1 run (Laveau run) 2:07
PL-Caden Nelson 40 run (Blomer kick) 11:26
Pill-Laveau 25 run (Aiden Turnbaugh run) 7:30
Pill-Jacob Dixon 47 run (Bryson Kriegl run) 3:38
PL-Nelson 19 run (Blomer kick) 2:01
Pill-Brayton Kriegl 67 run (pass failed) 1:46
Rushes-yards: PL 34-281, Pill 46-285
Pass comp-att-int-yds: PL 12-24-0-201, Pill 0-6-3-0
Total offense: PL 58-482, Pill 52-285
Rushing: Pill-Jacob Dixon 10-75, Aiden Turnbaugh 2-2, Bryson Kriegl 5-17, Quintin Laveau 16-132, Brayton Kriegl 10-70, Devin Frovarp 1-(-3), Wyatt Glas 1-(-7), team 1-(-1); PL-Caden Nelson 13-161, Darby Boelter 9-54, Bryer Nordby 8-66, Colten Cain 1-3, Johnny Elsenpeter 2-(-2), team 1-(-1)
Passing: Pill-Frovarp 0-2-0, Wyatt Glas 0-3-0, Laveau 0-1-0; PL-Grant Loge 12-24-201
Receiving: PL-Evin Ruud 4-84, Cullen Kratochvil 3-40, Nelson 1-4, Boelter 1-34, Nordby 2-27, Ryan Harmala 1-12