Lakers' football season ends as Alexandria wins 21-7 in sectional semifinals
The Detroit Lakes football season literally came down to inches -- or scratch that -- centimeters.
A first-down measurement during the Section 8-4A semifinals with under two minutes left in regulation on a fourth-and-five play by the Lakers, was ultimately the deciding factor in the game -- and it was as close as one could get.
"You couldn't slide a credit card between the stick and ball," said DL head coach Flint Motschenbacher.
Unfortunately, after almost five minutes of deliberation, the referees called the ball short, thus giving the ball back to the No. 2 Alexandria offense on DL's 47.
Two plays later, the Cardinals' leading running back Matt Peterson raced for a 47-yard touchdown to secure the 21-7 victory over the No. 6 Lakers and thus ending DL's season.
"We had the momentum, it's too bad (it was short), because we were driving," Motschenbacher said.
The Lakers had to play their way back into the game, though, thanks to some stingy red zone defense and a 96-yard pass from Joe Mollberg to Tanner Duncan in the fourth quarter to cut the once Alexandria lead in half 14-7.
The Cardinals raced out to a 14-0 lead in the first eight minutes of the game, after another crucial special teams gaffe by DL and some solid rushing by the Alexandria offense.
But once the Lakers were able to settle in, they didn't allow another score by the Cardinals until Peterson's game-breaking 47-yard TD run with under two minutes left in the contest.
"The first eight minutes of the game we allowed 14 points, but the rest of the game, we played well," Motschenbacher said.
The Lakers entered the game without their leading offensive lineman in Paul Voeltz, who was forced to miss the semifinal game due to a neck injury.
It affected DL's rushing attack, which picked up only 33 yards the entire game.
"It's too bad Paul couldn't play, I feel bad for him," Motschenbacher said. "He was the heart and soul of the offensive line. He is a good leader."
The Lakers didn't threaten the Cardinals in the first three quarters, with their deepest penetration only getting to the Alexandria 47.
Two drives ended in interceptions and four ending on punts.
The Cardinals were able to take advantage of a fluke special teams play, when punter Brock Johnson's knee hit the ground after he fielded a low snap, thus giving Alexandria the ball on DL's 34 early in the first quarter.
It took five plays for quarterback Colin Erickson to find wide receiver Mark Whiting in the corner of the end zone for an 11-yard TD strike.
After a punt on DL's second possession, the Cardinals drove the ball 45 yards on six plays, capped by a Mike Joerger four-yard rush, putting Alexandria 14-0 with 4:12 left in the first.
With the game starting to tilt towards a rout, the Laker defense clamped down on the potent Alexandria offense, stifling them twice from within the DL five-yard line -- one on a lost fumble and the other on a failed fourth and goal conversion.
"Alexandria was controlling the ball, but we didn't give up too many big plays," Motschenbacher said. "And our defense refused to let them in the end zone on those goal line stands."
Peterson was finding room to run after finishing the game with 152 yards on 15 carries and Alexandria gathered a total of 315 rushing yards.
But the bend-but-don't break Laker defense kept the deficit in manageable striking distance at 14-0.
And that's when the Lakers struck with one of the longest plays from line of scrimmage in recent DL history.
After a failed fourth and goal from the DL four, Laker sophomore quarterback Joe Mollberg took over deep in his own territory.
The strong-armed QB dropped back and hit Duncan on a crossing pattern, zipping the ball right past the Cardinal defender.
Duncan broke loose and went the full 96 yards to cut the 14-0 margin in half.
"It was a great throw and catch," Motschenbacher added.
A three-and-out gave the ball back to the Lakers on their own 30, where Mollberg and the offense started to drive for the potential tying score.
DL converted a fourth and short on an Alex Mason blast up the middle, but seven plays later, the Lakers faced their second fourth down play.
This time, Mollberg scrambled right and dove for the sticks on the DL sideline.
Motschenbacher asked a couple times to re-check and get the sticks as straight as they could -- but it still was just a hair short to give the ball back to Alexandria.
Mollberg finished the game with 174 yards, while Mason was limited to 33 yards on the ground.
The Lakers finish the season with a 4-6 record, while Alexandria will meet Sartell for the Section 8-4A championship at St. John's College Saturday.
Section 8-4A semifinals: (6) Detroit Lakes at (2) Alexandria, Saturday, Oct. 31.
Cardinals 21, Lakers 7
Detroit Lakes - 0 0 0 7 -- 7
Alexandria - 14 0 0 7 -- 21
Alex - Mark Whiting 11-yard pass from Colin Erickson; Nick Schmidt kick. 7:29, 1st quarter.
Alex - Michael Joerger 4-yard run; Schmidt kick. 4:12, 1st.
DL - Tanner Duncan 96-yard pass from Joe Mollberg; Steven Labine kick. 6:33, 4th.
Alex - Matt Peterson 47-yard run; Schmidt kick.
First Downs 7 14
By Rushing 2 13
By passing 4 0
By penalty 1 1
Net Yards Rushing 33 315
No. rushes 22 51
Yards gained 49 327
Yards lost 16 12
Net Yards Passing 174 12
No. passes 26 9
Completed 8 3
Incomplete 16 6
Had intercepted 2 0
Interception yards 0 12
Total Offensive Plays 54 68
TOTAL NET YARDS 207 327
Kickoffs 2 4
Yards 91 215
Ave. kickoff 45.5 53.8
Kickoffs Returned 2 1
Yards 34 35
Ave. return 17 35
Fumbles 2 2
Fumbles lost 0 1
Penalties 3 6
Yards 24 50
* * *
Player NR YG YL Net
Alex Mason 11 33 0 33
Joe Mollberg 11 16 16 0
Matt Peterson 15 152 0 152
Parker Giroux 15 78 8 70
Colin Erickson 16 64 4 60
Mike Joerger 4 30 0 30
Mark Whiting 1 3 0 3
* * *
Player No Comp Inc Int Yds TD
Mollberg 26 8 16 2 174 1
Erickson 9 3 6 0 12 1
* * *
Player No. Yds. TD
Brock Johnson 3 28 0
Nate Baker 2 32 0
Brian Labat 2 17 0
Tanner Duncan 1 96 1
Peterson 2 1 0
Whiting 1 11 1
* * *
Player No. Yds. Ave.
Nate Bausman 2 91 45.5
Nick Schmidt 4 215 53.8
* * *
Player No. Yds. Ave.
Baker 1 20 20
Andrew Pedersen 1 14 14
Peterson 1 35 35
* * *
Player No. Yds.
Tyler Iverson 1 12
Ross Thompson 1 0
* * *
Player No. Yds. lost
Justin Holm 1 3
Ethan Favor-Jackson 2 10.