Indians' defense posts another shutout
DULUTH -- Mahnomen's defense was every bit as good as advertised.
The Indians entered the Minnesota Class 1A state football tournament having posted seven shutouts and given up an average of 3.5 points per game, with the first-string unit not allowing a single point during the regular season.
After a 26-0 victory over Barnum in the state quarterfinals at Public Schools Stadium, those numbers improved.
Top-ranked Mahnomen (12-0) suffocated the Bombers' offense, allowing only 97 net yards and six first downs while forcing seven turnovers.
"It's tradition for us - it's what we harp on every week in practice," Indians quarterback-defensive back Jacob Pavek said. "Our defensive line is outstanding and gets to the ball. Our secondary is shaky at times, but gets the job done. And we pursue to the ball well and gang tackle."
That "shaky" secondary intercepted five Barnum passes in the second half as the Bombers were forced to try to throw in windy, rainy conditions.
"That was a good offensive team we played today," Mahnomen coach John Clark Jr. said. "You draw up a plan and hope it goes according to Hoyle, and it did today. We did a great job of taking away their run game and forced them into passing, and in this wind and weather that's a tough thing to do. Shutting out a team like this is impressive."
Mahnomen advances to play Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City in a semifinal next Saturday at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. Barnum's season ended at 9-3.
"I'm proud of their effort and how bad they wanted it," first-year Barnum coach Brian Robertson said of his players. "They truly wanted to be a state team, and that was their goal. We wanted to make some noise here, but playing the No. 1-ranked team in the state is tough."
Weather conditions dictated the game from the outset as quarterbacks fumbled three of the first four snaps. A total of nine fumbles made the first half a comedy of errors.
Mahnomen scored first after recovering one of those fumbles at the Bombers' 18. Trevor Haugo took a pitch 7 yards on his first carry of the game for a touchdown with 9:02 left in the second quarter.
The Indians then controlled the ball for the final 5:35 of the half, covering 45 yards in 12 plays. Pavek, who gained a game-high 189 yards on 30 carries, scored from the 1 on the final play of the half.
Mahnomen held the Bombers to 1 net yard in the half and one first down on 12 offensive plays.
"We put the ball on the ground, and it was tough to get any momentum going," Robertson said. "And once we did, they are pretty stingy on defense. Their D-line shut down our run game."
That forced a second half full of errant Barnum pass attempts.
Quarterbacks Zac Carlson and Brandon Newman were a combined 4-for-19 for 70 yards.
"We're not a passing team - we tried to improve it this year - but when (the defense) knows it's coming and with this weather, it makes it tougher," Robertson said.
Kole Lefebvre made two of the Indians' five second-half interceptions to secure the team's eighth shutout this season.
"It seems like we have a knack for stepping up and making a play when we have to," Clark said. "And we did that again today. Barnum sniffed (the end zone) a couple times and we made a big loss or an interception."
Mahnomen 0 14 12 0-26
Barnum 0 0 0 0- 0
M-Haugo 7 run (Hanson pass from Pavek)
M-Pavek 1 run (pass failed)
M-Pavek 21 run (run failed)
M-Hanson 34 pass from Pavek (pass failed)